Do I wish I could go back and hold him again as a baby and soak up his sweet smile and baby soft skin? Hear his laughter?
Or do I wish I could help him with homework one more time? Read him another book?
The days are long, but the years are short.
I’m so thankful for pictures. Take as many pictures as you can. Take one more picture of him with food slopped all over his face in the high chair, even though you already have 50. Take another picture of him belly-laughing, eyes crinkled. Take another picture of him in his latest superhero costume. Take pictures of every event, great or small. Especially the small ones. Because those will be the ones that help you remember. Remember the day he was tired of taking Easter pictures, so he made a scowl. That will bring laughter now.
Or the time he just stood like it was any other day, but he was holding his favorite stuffed animal.
What I’ve learned is that you can’t take too many pictures. When you see the pictures, times you had forgotten come flooding back. You had forgotten that trip you took when he was 8 months old to see grandparents. But look at the joy on their faces.
You had forgotten how excited he was to receive his new bike. But then you find the picture of his hands covering his face, and the next one where his face lit up with joy. His smiles are priceless.
Or what about the day he played cricket in his uncle’s backyard with his great grandmother? The one who now needs a wheelchair and would give anything to walk, play, and laugh like that again.
Or the picture of another great grandmother who has passed, holding him securely in her arms at 9 weeks old. You’re reminded of how much she embraced life and every one of her 7 children, 16 grandchildren, and 30 great grandchildren.
Yes, take just one more picture because one day you’ll be thankful for the memories that flood back. Our mind forgets, but it can be tugged into remembering. Nothing can do that quite like a photograph can.
How blessed we are to have cameras, and photographs, and video.
Next time your child complains and says no more pictures, just smile and say that’s my job. One day I might not get to see you every day. I might not get to hear your laughter every day. This way, you’ll always be with me.
So take those pictures. And print them out! Buy frames for them. Photo albums are great, but pictures that you get to see every day on display are even better.
One more thing. Don’t get so lost in the past that you forget the beauty of the present.
Be in the here and now. It’s one thing to take pictures, but they’re not for everybody else. Sure, you’re going to want to post about the happy times and invite others to rejoice with you. But don’t spend too much time on social media. Be social with those who are right in front of you, in the room for you. You’ll have plenty of time to scroll through social media when you’re no longer responsible for making dinner for five each night, or listening as your middle child tells you his latest joke. Listening to mindless humor is never wasted. A laugh. A listening ear. Never wasted.
No, our nest isn’t empty yet. I have five years of adventures to look forward to with our youngest. But it got a little smaller two years ago, and in August, once again, I’ll be realizing that things will never be quite the same.
But I can be okay with that because different doesn’t always mean bad; it’s just different. And I can laugh, smile, and shed a few tears over the hundreds of photographs I have that spring forth memories of raising our children.
No, I haven’t been a perfect mom. There are things I wish I could do over, but these photographs remind me that I did a lot of things right. Most of the time, I was soaking in the moments. And I’m so glad I made him always take “just one more picture.”