These toes belong to Eloise. She will be three in just a few short weeks, but as she napped in mommy and daddy’s bed this afternoon, they looked like baby toes to me, and I took a photo to remember their sweetness.
We take photographs all of the time. As a family, we’re pretty camera happy, and we capture moments whether or not they’re artistic or aesthetically beautiful to anyone else. Jason and I both love to get a great shot, but we’ve also come to terms with the reality of capturing images of our children–there is often someone moving, making a face, looking away, halfway gone before the shutter does its job. We take them anyway. Here and there, we’re blessed to snag an image that holds space for us in an impactful way. Like today’s piggy toes, the countless images we’ve stored are sacred to us because they’re attached to memories and moments we don’t want to erase.
Life feels like it gets busier and busier all of the time. I don’t mean just our lives as a family with young children who are growing at a rapid pace. I mean life in general, for all of us. There is more input, more access, more distraction, more tragedy. And it all has impact.
There are too many things that take us away from where our focus might otherwise be: devices might get as much or more attention than the people we care about the most. The news is always raging with something hard and worthy of substantial processing time and prayer. Life moves faster because we have instant access to so many things…information, communication, entertainment, worry, celebration, fear.
It’s beautiful that we can get to things we need and/or want to know with such ease, but I think it makes it hard sometimes to slow down or intentionally stop the influx of input in the interest of holding space instead.
As time goes by (and especially as our children change and grow so quickly), I want to be intentional about holding space in our family. I want our kids to know that there is always time to be with them and to hear what they have to say. I want there to be room for whole hours and days where we take things in together and make conscientious decisions to choose each other over the world we have access to in an instant.
It feels like all of this should be a no brainer, yet I’m afraid it isn’t. I know that I need to choose space and time with my people above other things, but it’s a habit requiring intention, like anything else.
I capture our kids in moments each day for the same reason I’m writing here daily through the month of September–my heart says to remember, to be intentional about being able to look back, and to appreciate the little things that amount to big things when our babies are suddenly 5 and almost 3 and just a few months away from being born.
Life is short. On days like today, in the aftermath of another international tragedy last night, life feels more than short. It feels fragile and unknown, too. Sometimes, you just need a photograph of your baby’s toes to remind you that there is still sweetness and simplicity in this world. Sometimes, you just need to feel like your babies are safe…like you might be able to protect them or preserve them for always. Occasionally a photograph might trigger that feeling. More often, a good snuggle session will do the trick for a time.
However it happens, I think our kiddos need us to hold sacred space for them just as much as we crave hanging on to the beautiful parts of young childhood on their behalf.
We take photographs because we love the memories. When we look back on them, we’re not just remembering how someone looked a year ago or how much they’ve grown. We’re remembering the space around that time, too. We capture it, because the moment has a significance all its own.
Sure, Eloise’s toes look like baby toes, and of course when I saw them peeking out this afternoon I thought about how she has changed so much and is growing so fast. More than that though, the photograph above holds a space for me that a fleeting moment just can’t. When I come across it, I’ll remember how Eloise desperately wanted to sleep in our bed today so we were nearby, how she soaked up her nap time story all snuggled close to me, and how she settled into sleep, trusting that she was safe and cared for in that bed today, just as she needed to be. I’ll remember for a long, long time.
It seems like preserving space is just as much a part of our job as parents as filling it up with places to go and things to do. When I feel guilty about slowing down or not programming our time to a hilt, I need to remember that the space to just be, to recall, to let our hair down, and to exist together as a family unit is equally as important, too.
holding space as best I can, wherever I can, for as long as I can,