One of my favorite pastimes lately is scrolling through the thousands of pictures on my phone. I love how a photo reel of time exists so easily at my fingertips, and I can get lost for hours in the history of my life.
It’s amazing how at any given moment I can look at my kids at 3 months or 3 years old, or even travel back in time to the early years of my marriage. And if I feel the need to see an ocean sunrise, I can easily find several images from the many beach trips I have taken with my family.
However, there is one thing that I absolutely hate about my pictures. If a stranger or even a friend were to scroll through my phone, I would be incredibly embarrassed and would feel compelled to explain. Because it would be hard for them to avoid noticing that my phone is absolutely jam-packed with selfies.
It all started when my daughter was born. We would be up late at night, and I simply wanted pictures of the both of us during this time. So instead of waking my husband, I would snap a selfie or two. There was never any direct purpose for them like a frame or a social media post – I just wanted a way to note that tiresome but special time together.
As the months ticked by and those late nights came to an end, I stopped taking as many selfies, but still my phone filled with pictures. Yet for every 100 photos, there were maybe two or three of me – and it honestly made me sad.
Now I need to note that my husband is an absolutely phenomenal dad and an equal sharer of everything we do, he simply lacks the genetic make-up that pushes a person to take pictures. He takes them whenever I ask, but (unlike me) it’s not his instinct to constantly snap photos.
Having a camera in my pocket is something I consider a gift. I’m sure my mom would have killed for one when I was a kid. So you can call my selfie taking what you want, but the truth is that I simply want to be cataloged alongside my kids in this digital form.
In the beginning of my growing habit of taking selfies, I mostly took them when my husband wasn’t around. So like when I would watch TV with the kids snuggled on the couch, or when we would dance in the kitchen, or even when my kids were starting to love the swings. I simply wanted to be a part of the memories, so I would insert myself in with a picture.
It soon expanded to almost every outing. If we went on a hike, I would take a picture of them splashing through the creek and then one of me sitting on a rock. Or on important outings like while picking our Christmas tree, I would get a few shots of my husband and kids cutting the tree down, and then one of me standing amongst the evergreens.
Now I do get that a picture doesn’t have to exist to prove that I was there. And I also know that my kids will appreciate me no matter if I am in front of or behind the camera — the point is that I was with them.
Yet for me, these selfies mean something more. They are an imprint of me in everything my family does. They are a collection of images representing some of the most important and most mundane moments of our lives. I want my family to have an image of me during these times, and if a selfie is a way to easily get that, then so be it.
So as much as I hate them, I will continue to take them. And maybe one day, I can look back and be glad they exist. I can find joy in their importance, and instead of just remembering my happiness, I can see it…in the form of a brightly smiling selfie.