Friday, August 19, 2011

Photos of a Second Child: An Open Letter to My Baby Boy

Dear Son #2,

Right now you are my baby, not even a year old, but soon you will be a little boy. I know there will come a day when you look through all of the photos of you and your brother as infants and toddlers and wonder why there are so many more pictures of him than there are of you. Everyone will chuckle as they tell you that it’s the curse of the second child, but I am here to tell you the real reason.

First off, I will tell you that it is true that some of the discrepancy between the massive quantity of photos of your big brother as a baby and the modest number of you is due to sheer logistics. When your brother was a baby, I was a stay-at-home mom with nothing to do but play with him, dress him in tiny, adorable outfits, and take pictures of his every move. When you were a baby, I had already gone back to work part-time and, in addition to you, I had a four-year-old little boy to keep an eye on and entertain. So when you did something adorable, I didn’t always have the camera sitting six inches away. And when it wasn’t right at my side, I didn’t always have the opportunity to leave you both and run to the other room to get it. And all of those outfits that I couldn’t wait to photograph on your brother, well yes, they weren’t as new and exciting on you since I had seen them worn many times before.

But there’s another reason, a bigger reason, that there are fewer photos of you, my baby, than there are of your older brother. When your brother was a baby, I had been told countless times by every person I knew or encountered who had had children before me: They grow up so quickly. It was a lesson that I thought I understood. As a result, I was adamant about capturing every expression, every milestone, and every moment on digital film. I knew that each moment would be fleeting and that if I didn’t take the picture right then, I may never get the chance again. As a result, his infancy is chronicled in detail.  Four years later, when you were born, the biggest difference was this: that message that everyone had tried to share with me (they grow ups so fast), now I had actually begun to live it. In what felt like the blink of an eye, your big brother had transformed from my tiny baby to a toddler and then a preschooler. I looked at him in amazement and wondered how it had happened so quickly.

So how does this translate into there being fewer pictures of you than there are of your brother? It is simply this: Today, when you are being adorable, I have learned that I would rather sit and enjoy your beautiful smile instead of spending some of that time running to get the camera. Sure, I’ll take out my phone and snap a picture of you doing something particularly cute. But if the photo doesn’t come out just right, I don’t spend time taking 15 more, hoping to get one that really captures the moment. I spend more time holding you, playing with you, and watching you grow, and spend less time trying to preserve those moments for history. You are going to grow up so very quickly and all the photographs in the world are not going to slow that down one bit. So I am choosing to spend more time being with you and your brother and less time recording you. I am still a little obsessed with my camera, which you will undoubtedly know by the time you are old enough to read this, so there will still be quite a fair number of photographs of both you and your brother, my two precious boys. But hopefully there will be many more moments that, even though they haven’t been captured on film, will have been captured in my heart.

Your Mom