As each month passed by during that first year, I made sure to snap a picture of my son. He’s our first child and I sure as heck was going to use those cute little stickers you get to mark each month-milestone.

Like most parents, I’ve been pretty obsessed with capturing as many moments as I could, posting them on social media every so often. Looking back at my childhood, much is remembered by the photos I have of that time, and I wanted to remember these same moments as a new parent. Pictures are my way to remember.

I like to think I keep a balance of taking the photos, being in the photos, and sharing the photos. Not everyone needs to see his first poop. Not all photos should be taken without me, hiding myself. Not every event has to be photographed. 

But, sometimes my inner social media monster takes over, and Facebook is the easiest way to both brag about your kids and feel good about yourself a little, too. Fighting to remember that life is not about likes is sometimes hard, but it’s also a game-changing perspective in the parenting world. Social media is a force to be reckoned with. And if not contained early on as a parent, we easily become Facebook junkies.

Why do we whip out our phones to photograph everything? If social media didn’t exist, I wonder how much we’d actually photograph. Would we take a picture of our little one looking into the camera, and then quickly show the lady at the library how cute we looked on our nature walk this morning? Would I feel the need to even take that photo if I knew it’d only be seen if I printed it and put it in a photo album? Do I really need these photos to remember every single thing as my son grows?

We took our son to the nation’s largest county fair with a great little petting zoo. My phone at the ready for the quick-draw so I snap the photos I thought I’d need to remember this moment.

For a little bit, my husband was in charge of the camera while we were playing with the baby chicks. My son was incredibly squirmy – too squirmy for a good pic and so excited to run around the petting zoo. He was squirmy enough to make the cutest face while darting for the baby pigs. I quietly muttered to my husband, “Man! You missed it!” 

Not only did he miss a perfect photo-op, but he missed the face entirely. He was oblivious to the moment because we were worried about taking the photo. In a moment of clarity, I said, “Let’s put the phone away for a little bit and explore the petting zoo some more.”

We would get plenty of more chances later that day. This was our first time at this fair with our son and I wanted us to enjoy it as much as possible. I wanted to remember having a great time. 

I wanted to remember the experience of it.

Not every moment needs to be remembered this way. Moments need to be experienced. Not photographed. It’s the sum of these experiences that our children will remember.

And it’s the sum of these experiences that will remind me of the fun we had with our son the summer we took him to the fair for the first time, and I started putting my phone down a little more. I started to actually be in the moment with my family.