I was on Facebook the other day and the most adorable picture came up as a memory. It was from seven years ago, when I was attending graduate school in Minnesota. Mel and I took our daughter, Norah, to the fire station for a tour. It was part of her preschool class. They dressed her up in a fire jacket, with a fire hat, all of it several sizes too big. Then my wife snapped a picture of me next to her.
The funny thing is, back then, Mel was always taking pictures of me with the kids. And you know what happened? She’d show them to me, and tell me I looked like a cute dad. But then, I’d look at one of them, and decide I looked out of shape, or awkward, or my shirt wasn’t fitting right, and I’d ask her to delete that sucker. I’d ask her not to post it online, but usually ended up relenting.
But now, looking at that picture from the fire station, I can’t believe how young I look, and I can’t believe how cute my daughter was, and all I want to do while looking at that sucker is to hold that little girl again. I feel this warmth in my heart looking at it, and I must have looked at that picture a dozen times since it came up on Facebook, and smiled.
Just writing about it right now is making me smile.
But the sad part is, until recently, I didn’t take nearly as many pictures of my wife as she did of me. Then, periodically, she’d ask why we don’t have very many pictures of her with the kids that aren’t selfies, and instead of taking more pictures, I often end up keeping my mouth shut, when what I really should have been doing is taking pictures like a little ninja, hiding them away, and then showing them to her later so she could feel that same warmth I felt looking at that picture from the fire station.
I take a lot of pictures of Mel with the kids now. And I know, this all might seem silly, but what I’ve realized is that taking pictures of your partner with the kids is important. This whole parenting gig is passing us by pretty fast. Looking back to all those Facebook memories, I’m still struggling with the idea that I’ve been on Facebook long enough for it to have “memories” at all, let alone for it to say that a post was from 10 years ago.
Time’s flying by, and frankly, we all deserve pictures of ourselves with our children — even ones that aren’t selfies.
And listen, taking pictures isn’t hard. Just pull out your phone, catch her in the moment, reading books with the kids, or teaching them to bake cookies, or watching TV with a little one on their lap, or washing their hair in the evenings, and snap a picture. Be sneaky about it. Make them candid. Your wife deserves to have some memories too. She deserves to see her children look at their mother with admiration, or frustration, or compassion, or love. She deserves to see how motherhood looks from a different angle.
She deserves to look back and realize she wasn’t as out of shape as she thought, or wasn’t as mean as she remembers, or that the kids weren’t as frustrating and it might have seemed. She deserves to look back and smile and laugh and long for those little smiles and hands and feet.
And sure, she might not like the picture in the moment. She might not like the way she looked, or the way she was dressed, or the fact that she was wobbly pregnant. But take it anyway. If she asks you not to share it online, don’t. You don’t even have to show it to her in the moment. Wait until she’s forgotten. Wait until the kids have changed, and she has too. Then, when the time is right, show it to her and laugh, and talk about how much you admire her motherhood.
Taking pictures of your wife with the kids, it says a lot without saying anything. It tells your wife that you admire her hard work with the children. It shows her how much you appreciate her efforts, and that you think the way she looks is picture worthy. It shows that you want to take a little bit of her, in that moment, loving your children, and put it in your pocket to save for later.
It’s probably one of the easiest things you can do, and yet it’s also one of the most overlooked.
It will help her remember a moment she might not even know was significant, and it will help her to realize that you understood how beautiful motherhood is.