Why I Take Too Many Pictures Of My Daughter

by Jenn Press Arata
Originally Published: 
patpitchaya / Shutterstock

patpitchaya / Shutterstock

A self-proclaimed “Momarazzi,” I admit to having a bit of an obsession with my camera. The instant gratification of capturing these fleeting moments of my daughter’s childhood creates a tangible time capsule to hold on to these never-again moments, forever.

It’s for me, but also for her. You see, I was there. I’ll have the memories and stories to tell, but that’s only good for so long. Ever heard of Mommy brain? I can’t promise the clarity of which I’ll recall a series of events, and truthfully, I won’t always be around to share the things I do remember.

While it may seem like I’m missing out on the present by documenting today for prosperity’s sake, I view it as extending the now—giving us all a way to keep smiling long after we’ve said “cheese.”

So why do I take too many pictures of my daughter, both candid and posed? These photographs are my gift to her. I want her to see the joy in her face when she pets animals, her expression as she blows kisses or smiles a toothless grin, the pout she forms when she doesn’t quite get her way, the messy tousled bed-head she has when first awaking, her sauce-slathered cheeks after digging into a bowl of pasta marinara.

I want her to know of a time when she first learned the pincer grasp, when she could barely grab a Cheerio (that I cautiously cut into thirds so she wouldn’t choke), how she mischievously broke apart her mobile when no one was looking, and how she voluntarily hugged her grandpa’s leg.

I want her to feel the love in my heart when she was placed on my chest for the very first time and those first sweet weeks when she was wrapped snug as a baby burrito before she broke out of her swaddle.

I want her to giggle with me when she sees herself covered in doodles of my bold lipstick she discovered in the backseat while I was driving, and how her chubby toddler feet walked in the same red heels Mommy wore down the aisle to marry Daddy.

I want both of us too look back in awe at her growth through weekly photos: a tiny newborn ball sitting in a very big chair that suddenly seemed to shrink as she began to climb, stand and put the numbered blocks in her mouth.

I want her to know of a time when she was content with a sticker and a box of crayons, how she didn’t want to go anywhere without her doll, and how picking out pumpkins was the highlight of her day.

When she’s all grown up, I want to show her the sour frown she made when she first tried broccoli, the smirk on her face when she first licked cold ice cream, and her proud expression the first time she used the potty and got an M&M’s reward.

When she’s towering over me, I want to show her how she once stood on tippy-toes to reach the doorknob. And when she’s running from one important event to the next, I want to recall the days when she crawled, walked and ran for the very first time. When she gets her driver’s license, I want her to see how engrossed she was in pedaling in a colorful plastic car or first riding a bike.

When she eventually loses a tooth, I want to remind her of the first time she brushed those pearly whites with a pink Elmo toothbrush sitting on a personalized step-stool. When she gets her hair done for prom, I want to remember how she used to sit on my lap at the salon while they trimmed her bangs.

I want her to look back on family trips, summers at the beach, homemade Halloween costumes, dance recitals, various schools she attended, and the friends she made along the way.

I want her to see the house she came home to from the hospital before we moved into a new one, and the room she grew up in, the brand new toys she played with that will one day be vintage. I want her to have a way to reflect on her upbringing if she chooses to have kids of her own one day.

Most of all, I want her to experience even just an ounce of the pride and joy I get to feel watching her grow up. Because one day, today will be “remember when,” and with a photo in hand, there’s a good chance I’ll be able to say, “Yes, I do remember.”

Although I know I’ll never be able to freeze time, I most certainly can frame it.

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