Have you ever spent the last 20 minutes of your day before you finally rest looking through photos of your kids?

Even if you’re exhausted. Even if you need to get up early—to see their faces in real life not just on the screen of your iPhone. Even then—you’re still straining those tired eyes looking at those adorable faces.

Have you ever put your children to bed only to sit on the couch and get sucked into watching videos of them from two years ago?

Even if it’s been a really hard day filled with emotionally-charged meltdowns and missed naps and bickering. Even if you feel so relieved that they are finally, finally asleep. Even then—you’re still perusing old snapshots of your crew wondering how you made something that cute.

Have you ever melted over someone’s birth announcement so you decide to watch your birth video?

Even though you were doing something totally unrelated, you dug up your video to relive that precious moment. Even though you knew it was going to make you ugly cry and you didn’t have waterproof mascara on. Even then—you still decided to test your heart to make sure motherhood still had it feeling as vulnerable as ever.

Have you ever gone away for the weekend—taken a break from the kids—only to scroll so far back through your Instagram you got to your first-ever post in 2011? Just so you could see the beauty of your family story in all those small squares that fill your feed?

Even though you had been looking forward to this weekend for months. Even though you’re having a blast with your girlfriends. Even then—you still decide to give yourself a medium level dose of anxiety because you now miss them so much you might leave immediately.

Have you ever spent the better part of your afternoon not so much organizing and sorting through clothes that don’t fit your baby anymore (like you meant to do), but more oohing and ahhing over how cute and tiny their clothes used to be(!)?

Even though you desperately need to box up all this stuff your daughter has sized out of so you have some semblance of order. Even though you could be doing like 3,000 other things that actually would be much more productive of you. Even then—you still choose to relish in this fleeting moment of babyhood.

I have done all of this, and more.

Why do I do this to myself?

Maybe I just want to reflect on the day we had. To see the highlights—the good parts, the smiles. To remember their happiness. To replay their laughter.

Maybe I just want to reminisce. To think back on the different stages we’ve gotten through together—to see where we’ve been and to think about where we’re going. To remind myself that we’re in this together and we actually make a pretty good team.

Maybe I just want to remember. I want to memorize their baby rolls and tattoo their high-pitched singing voice to my eardrums. I want to sear their funny sayings to my brain and always see that sparkle in their eyes that they save just for their mama.

Maybe I just want to be inspired. When I look at these beautiful moments I’ve collected throughout my kiddos’ childhood, I am in awe. I’m in awe of how big they’re getting, I’m in awe of how many adventures we’ve been on, I’m in awe of the fact that I’m doing this, I’m really doing this. I’m in awe of how far we’ve come. I’m truthfully, completely in awe of these tiny humans of mine.

But maybe, most of all, I just want to prove to myself that I’m a good mom. I want to feel validated. That my kids are loved and happy and feel safe with me in my arms, in our home. Maybe these little acts serve as visual pep talks for me to keep going, keep trucking along, keep giving it all I have.

Maybe it’s one of those unexplainable parts of motherhood like why I had to lose so much hair postpartum and now have a receding hairline or like why I hear a baby crying when I’m in the shower even though no one’s crying. (Unless it’s been a hard day then yes—there’s probably a baby crying. Spoiler alert: it’s me. ?)

Maybe it’s a celebration of making it through another day together. Because this isn’t easy. And as they say, a photo is worth a thousand words. But, actually, in this case—my 24,000 photos* (seriously) are worth probably a million words, I’d say (that seems fair). So maybe looking back on these thousands of photos and videos and hundreds of tiny pieces of clothing is all just a way of saying, “This is so hard! But look! Look how worth it it is.”

Maybe in the end… it’s all just part of the magic of motherhood?

(*I know I need to delete some photos. They are all backed up on my iCloud so I don’t know why I don’t Just. Do. It. But there’s just something about pressing ‘delete’ on these memories that makes me feel like I’m doing something *super* risky like skydiving or swimming with sharks or something else that makes my heart race and my armpits sweat. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I get that 24,000 is extreme and I never have space on my phone and yes—I need to get my life together.)

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