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Counting photos, collecting memories

Take the picture

I have a confession.

I have over 22,000 photos in my laptop storage.

It’s ridiculous, I know. I had a hard enough time trying to manage my compulsion to document everything before I became a mom, and now with a one and a half year old and another baby on the way, I might as well forget it and sign away my life savings to Apple and Shutterfly and Chatbooks and all of the other ways we’ve invented to keep our digital memories safe and sound.

But I’m worried I’m over doing it.

Can you over do it when it comes to photos?

I just had to upgrade my iCloud storage, and it’s gonna cost me $10 a month. That’s $120 a year for those of you who are mathematically challenged like myself. I could buy like two more packages of diapers for $120 a year, so I guess it’s not that much in the grand money pit they call parenting. And it’s worth it if you can afford the peace of mind knowing those memories are safe and sound somewhere up in the hypothetical place known as cyberspace.

So I had to click upgrade. I had to know that Edie’s first smile wasn’t going to be left only to my shaky memory, the one that belongs to this mind of mine that had me walking around the house with my shirt on backwards all day until I finally noticed it while changing into my pajamas that night.

Seriously.

And because when Edie was born, my computer crashed. And I ran the risk of losing every photo I took of our lives since we moved back to the ranch ten years before, photos that were also closely attached to the livelihood I created for myself as a storyteller and part-time photographer.

And then there was the house fire that threatened every photograph I’d collected throughout my entire life before that…so yeah, I’m photographically paranoid….

I’m a walking amateur documentary filmmaker with no plan for a film.

I’m a master memory capturer.

Or something like that.

But why? Why do I need 27 photos of my kid jumping with your kid on the trampoline? In the old days, one snap would do the trick. And we took the film to the local drug store to be developed, waited a 24 hours (or one hour if we splurged) and then we stuck them into photo albums to sit on the shelf for the day we felt nostalgic about our babies growing up too fast, or, gasp, they were suddenly giving us the date of their high school graduation…

Time slips away quickly. That’s a fact we all can agree on. And photography helps us go back for a moment and remember what our grandmother’s hands looked like holding up the fish we caught in the lake in Minnesota, before we grew up and started to care that our hair was too wild to stay inside the bounds of our fuzzy ponytail.

In fact, now that I think of it, I wouldn’t have remembered that fish at all if it wasn’t for that photograph.

Funny, I take so many photos of Edie thinking it’s so that I can remember the special moments, but in the long run, all those photos I take are really for her.

Because right now she won’t remember the way she leans her head on her Papa’s shoulder or the way his eyes crinkle in a smile, evidence of the unmistakable bond they share. She won’t remember the way her cousin would hoist her on her hip like a baby doll, denying the fact that she’s growing quickly from baby to toddler, catching up with her in size.

She might not remember our old dog Hondo and how he stands just at the right height for her to run her hands across his back.

And she won’t recall the way her mommy’s tummy swelled, pregnant with her brother or sister and how she liked to point to it and say “baby,” clueless of the trouble coming her way in just a few short months.

I thought about that today as we got dressed to go out the door. With my first pregnancy I documented my changing silhouette every week, fascinated by the magic of the process, wrapped up in the newness of it all. I took a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized that I’ve been pregnant with this baby for over four months and, because my camera is always facing towards my family and friends, I haven’t taken the time to take a photo of myself and the newest addition.

And so I asked my husband to take the reigns and snap one of my daughter, my bump and me, realizing that times are changing, and this might be the only documentation we get of this crazy time.

And that’s ok.

Because, in special moments like these, sometimes one picture is enough.

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Written by Jessie Veeder

Jessie Veeder

Jessie is a singer/songwriter/writer and statewide columnist living on her family’s ranch near Watford City with her husband and daughter. She blogs at veederranch.com . Reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com. (facebook.com/veederranch)

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