Confession time: I am a picture-taking addict. It’s become a bit ridiculous, actually, according to my daughter. She has grown up with a camera always at hand in her Mama’s bag and has no problem telling me to knock it off. Not that I do, I take pictures more covertly. From the moment she was earth-side I have been trying to capture all our time together. All the milestones, all the cute expressions. I love documenting our time together each day, whether that be off on a homeschool field trip, working on a project, or just reading and playing. I have over 15000 pictures on my poor over-worked hard drive, and they are slowly making their way into photo books.

Related: I Know You Think My Baby Is Ugly, But Here’s What You Don’t Understand

I feel this visceral NEED to record every age and stage with my girl, not because I necessarily want to, but because I know that this time together is fleeting. I am continually stunned by just how freakin’ fast this is going. Do I have a 7-year-old? Seriously!? That saying, “the days are long but the years are short” is spot on. Some days feel like an eternity, but then I will suddenly wonder where the last month went and what on earth we did.

Compounding all this is the fact that I only get to do this once. Each moment, each age, each milestone will be our first and last in this house, because we have one child. The rest were early miscarriages. I never thought I would be a mama to only one…I thought I would always be surrounded by my herd, endlessly wiping noses and bottoms, scrubbing sticky fingerprints from walls and trying to make everyone happy at meal times. I thought I would get to do pregnancy over again, so I didn’t record. I didn’t take pictures of my bump, nor do I know when the date of the first time I felt my daughter move. I didn’t do a belly cast or have professional maternity pictures done. I didn’t take week by week photos to watch the progression of her growth. I regret not doing that SO MUCH! Not that any of these things need to happen, but there are milestones, looking back, that I would have loved to capture at this special time. I honestly thought “Oh, I’ll do it next time.” Except I don’t get a next time.

This time, however, I’m making the most of it.  Every piece of art is carefully either photographed or put away. I have a filing system so that I can keep the essential pieces she creates, from the smeared blue handprints on her first day of preschool to her first scribbles with a crayon.  The months that she painstakingly learned how to print are all documented, and I saved some samples so that she can see them, laughing at how she used to write her words. Her first math tests, the first time she wrote a poem, even the first random “Mama” I found scribbled on a piece of paper up in her playroom are all lovingly tucked away for the future. Not only do I have endless numbers of pictures, but a TON of things she makes with her own hands at various ages. At least the bin keeps me from keeping everything she’s ever done!

Would I feel this compelling need to record everything to such a degree if we had more than one child? I honestly don’t know. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have time! Like my mother says whenever I ask her about mine and my brother’s babyhood and young childhood years “It’s all a blur!” We were 16 months apart and kept her on her toes from morning until night. There are pictures but shoved into a shoebox with the hopes of one day organizing them. I don’t have any examples of my first colouring practice, or outfits I wore when I first started picking out my clothing. We didn’t have a video camera, so I don’t know what my little kid voice sounded like. And honestly, I kind of wish I did have these relics of my younger years to show MY daughter. I love going over to my inlaws house to watch endless embarrassing videos of my husband as a toddler on up, listening to his squeaky little voice, watching him smash cars into each other.  Our daughter roars with laughter every time she sees ‘little Daddy’ and can’t believe that a man who is now 6’5″ was anything like her size once.

Related: Pictures of Before

I can’t even tell you that I will do anything different from here on out. I’m still going to annoy my daughter and husband (and even the dog!) with my constant picture taking. My biggest regret would be that I don’t record her childhood and have nothing to look back on when she is in university and out on her own. I want to be able to show my grandchildren (PLEEEEEEASE let there be grandchildren, Lord! Please?!) what their mum was like when she was a tiny girl. I want them to look at her drawings and pictures and know that they make things as she did. When I am old and sitting in my rocking chair and want to look back on this precious time, I will have so much to examine because I’m preparing for that time now by shoving a camera in my daughter’s face every day.

No regrets.


Photo by Mario Calvo on Unsplash

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    Jill Kawchak

    Jill Kawchak

    Jill Kawchak is the proud mama to one truly amazing daughter, the wife of a good man, and a companion of a very troublesome Labrador retriever. Her days are spent homeschooling from the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Cochrane, Alberta, where her daughter constantly begs to go exploring. She had always wanted to be a mother and started TTC just after her wedding in 2006. Jill has been diagnosed with PCOS, and was told motherhood would be a difficult goal to attain, but after 3.5 years of infertility with one early loss, the clouds parted, and the sunshine that was a little girl with blue eyes and brown curls broke through. However, in the years since her daughter arrived, there have been another 4 early losses. After *much* debate, angst and tears, Jill and her husband, Mark, have decided to end their fertility journey and are now focused on 'what comes next'. She writes to keep sane, and support those who are also experiencing infertility and baby loss.