Halloween has come and gone. I got really sad last night because I realized that we didn’t end up taking our baby boy to a pumpkin patch. It was at the top of my fall to-do list.
Then, I asked myself why I was sad about it. Is it because I’m super passionate about pumpkin picking? No. Is it because I like schlepping my baby out of the house for an outdoor adventure that will probably end in apple cider? Maybe. Is it because I wanted to capture an adorable picture of him sitting on top of a giant pumpkin in his most stylish fall outfit? Yes. Yes!
In any given situation, if I were to ask myself, “Did I do this for my kid, or did I do this for the photo?” too many times, I did it for the photo. It’s hard to admit, but it’s reality. My kid is only 6 months old. He’s extremely easy to please. As long as he is fed, his diaper is changed, and someone is dancing around acting like a fool for his sole entertainment, life is good for him. He doesn’t need pumpkin patch outings or onesies with ironic sayings. But I do. I need that stuff for the pictures.
If I’m honest, I create (and re-create) a lot of scenarios for my baby based on the photo opportunity. With my trusty iPhone in hand, I’m ready to capture every precious moment, even if it is a little “staged.” How many times have I snapped a shot, looked at it, critiqued it, and then snapped it again after I removed the unsightly booger hanging from his nose? From there, I might crop my unmade bed out of the background or use the editing tool to make my son’s eyes just a little bit bluer. And for what? I don’t even share his photos on social media (my husband’s request that I begrudgingly comply with).
If I were to go through the photo albums at my parents’ house, I’d probably find about two dozen photos of me from birth to 6 months, and that’s being generous. I take about two dozen photos of my baby every week. Hell, if he’s in a particularly smiley mood or the setting is just right, I might take two dozen photos in one day.
Of the photos my parents did take of me as a baby, most are grainy, I’m never looking at the camera, my clothes are stained with baby food, and I almost always have a pacifier in my mouth. They are real, authentic. There is nothing staged about them. And there is certainly not an excessive amount of them. The fact that there are so few makes each one that much more special. I have them committed to memory. If my son tried to memorize all the photos I’ve taken of him in the past six months, his head would explode.
With my smartphone permanently attached to my hand like it’s an actual limb and the insanely easy accessibility of the camera, taking a photo of my baby has become just one more thing in the routine life of raising a child. Change him into his outfit for the day. Take a photo. Feed him a bite of pureed squash. Take a photo. Put him in his car seat and nibble his toes. Take a photo. Blow raspberries on his belly before bath time. Take a photo.
I’m equal parts elated and disgusted by the amount of photos I already have of him. When is enough, enough? When does the opportunity for a Pinterest-worthy picture stop trumping the opportunity to just enjoy my baby—boogers and all?
My husband reminded me that we still have time to visit a pumpkin patch. It’s not like there’s a rule that you can’t go pumpkin picking after Halloween. So maybe we will get to make that memory after all. And maybe I’ll leave my phone in the car.