Photo Finish

boy running on beach

The visions flash past my mind’s eye so quickly, then disappear.

Like I’ve dropped a huge box containing still photos of my children’s entire childhood. The photos are scattered all around me in my mind, the wind whirling some of them almost out of reach. I grasp for them, trying to hold onto them all, but it’s almost impossible.

I see them as individual frames cut from an old video; still photos so faded I can barely make out the memory attached.

My mind is cluttered with them as of late, so I try to mentally gather them and sort them into virtual boxes.

One box is navy blue with tan trim, filled with awards and letters of recognition, ribbons from science fairs and photography shows, Boy Scout badges, and baseball trophies from long ago.

Not much room left in this one.

The other is a trendy pattern of pink and black, maybe a few neon green stars thrown in here and there. Certificates of achievement, awards, drawings, pictures of friends, and soccer trophies fill this one.

Still some room left for prom dresses and a few more trophies.

In these pictures in my mind I see birthday parties with pinatas and sippy cups. First steps and shiny Christmas shoes. A backyard strewn with toys; kids running through the sprinklers on an intensely hot day.

Bodies buried in the sand at the beach, with toes sticking out and faces in full grin. First triumphant rides on tiny bicycles. Camping trips with s’mores and dirt-smeared faces.

Toothless grins, tears over a first haircut, one year-old faces covered in cake, a tiny arm in a pink cast.

Glasses, braces, buzz cuts in the summertime, awkward bangs pushed aside with barrettes as they grew out. Pants with holes in the knees, fancy dresses, the first time he wore a real shirt and tie.

And yet, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve missed something.

These memories that cloud my mind, prevent me from getting things done, threaten to bring me to tears at a moment’s notice? They also make me painfully aware that childhood is finite. It slips through your fingers like fairy dust, almost imperceptible as it happens.

As you’re doing the laundry, checking the homework, making the meals, paying the bills, and doling out punishments it’s happening.

There are no do-overs.

So what if I did forget something? Was there a first something that I didn’t remember? An adventure I neglected to schedule? Whatever these things were, they seem to be lost and buried in the sea of photographs in my mind.

And if I did forget something, I’ll never know.

I am so fiercely proud of my children, of the people they are becoming, and of the direction their lives are heading. This is all their achievement, their hard work, theirs to savor.

So if I did forget something, I’m hoping it was small.

And I will keep searching the memories to see if I can find it.


  1. Beautiful.

  2. Galit Breen says:

    Just so you know- that fiercely proud part? That's crystal clear.

    And as you weave and scrapbook and write those memories out? I'll so read them and dab my eyes right alongside you!

    This was lovely, as always, friend!


  3. Oh, Sherri, you do it to me every time! You are such a great reminder to enjoy these moments now, and I really think I'm doing a much better job of that.

    I don't think you forgot anything. Your love for your children is rock-solid, my friend. xo

  4. Mama Wants This says:

    That was brilliant.

  5. The mad woman behind the blog says:

    I've read your posts about your mad schedule juggling skills. I'm sure you didn't miss a thing. And just think, before long you'll be so old you won't remember anyway.
    Wait, did I just say that? I love you Sherri, you know I'm teasing.

    I think you're doing an amazing job capturing the sentiment of your role as mother. Maybe this could be the place to recapture some of those memories. You know we would all love to read them.

  6. Law Momma says:

    I just love this. It is such a nice reminder to be in the moment, whatever the moment is. Thanks for the lesson… You are amazing. 🙂

  7. Mommy Needs a Vacation says:

    Oh Sherri…I just love this!!! You make me want to cherish, cherish, cherish!!!

  8. Incredible. Oh so true. As my baby is learning to run and jump, my mind tries to go back to when my older two did that and I cannot recreate that complete memory in my mind and yet it was only a few short years ago. Love you.

  9. So true!

  10. Lula Lola says:

    Every day, I wonder if I'm missing something. Because, if I'm missing it, they're missing it, and I just can't have that! Great post!

  11. So beautiful Sherri. You always write my thoughts and I just love you for it. I watch my youngest and he is so cute and sweet and I hope I remember every second of his toddlerhood but I know, because I have done this before, that I will not remember every little thing so I just have to appreciate the days as they are.

  12. This makes me want to hang out with my dad more often

  13. Beautiful post. Sometimes I'm so consumed with what the future will bring, I forget to be just 'present in the moment'. Your post helps put that into perspective. We spend so much time preparing for events, that often we can hardly wait til their over (I'm thinking of sleepovers here!). Childhood is fleeting…so important to savour it…

  14. Sluiter Nation says:

    ok. you know how some women, when the start to hang out together, they get on the same lady cycle?

    We may have hung out long enough that our minds are on the same blogging cycle.

    You'll see if you read my post today.

    But this? This is on my mind a lot lately. And I have to keep reminding myself that we are still at the very VERY beginning. Not all of our family is even here yet…I need to love all of these things and not grieve them. not yet.

    I hate that it can't stay though.

  15. Jane Bitch says:

    Beautifully written.

    My husband and I remind each other each time one of our children asks us to play with them and we are otherwise preoccupied that they won't ask much longer. Soon we, their first choice for playmates now, will be the last choice to hang out with.

  16. I spend nearly every day worrying about that little thing.
    I'm certain that it is that worry that will ultimately make me miss something.
    So, I'm trying. Not to worry. Not to become obsessed.
    But rather, to live. To breathe it all in.
    Because, you're right, it is finite.

    Absolutely beautiful piece, my friend.

  17. Sherri…wow. I understand and already feel the pressure of the little things. I stumbled your post, and am including it in my Saturday faves…it's beautiful.

    And submit this for syndication to BlogHer!!

  18. Alex@LateEnough says:

    Gawd. I tearing up. But totally worth it. Thank you.

  19. I love all of your writing…this is one of my favorites though. So true. It gets even more poignant as your kids get older, I'm sure.

  20. Gorgeous post. Goosebumpy and perfect. I am so glad I get to read your words.

    It's a gift, really.

    Thank you.

  21. Just lovely. I feel like I miss too much. In fact I think that while I am busy worrying that I am missing things – I miss things. Just. Lovely. Thank you.

  22. Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points says:

    Perfect, Sherri. As always.

    And yes, dear one, of course you forgot something.

    And it won't matter one teeny tiny little bit.

  23. says:

    So well stated. It IS so hard to stay in the moment, isn't it?

  24. Paula @ Simply Sandwich says:

    I feel the exact same way – especially as my first it gearing up for college. I am trying to absorb every little thing but I know on that day when I leave her on the campus, I will be feeling that there is something I missed… 🙁

  25. MamaRobinJ says:

    This left a physical sensation in my chest. I'm so afraid I'm missing these moments with my son. My struggle with depression is driving me inward and I'm not there for them. He's going to turn 3 soon and so he's at the stage where a lot of what he does is totally hysterical. Some of it leaves me in awe. But I'm afraid I am missing it, and that I'll have a blank box where those memories should be.

    Sorry, terribly depressing 😉 Just working on my TRDC post about deepest fears and this hit on something.

  26. This was so good, Sherri. It convicted me to get my pictures in order. It also reminded me of one of my very favorite children's books called "Let Me Hold You Longer". It is about remembering your child's "lasts"- the last time they took the bottle, the last time they slept in bed with you, the last this, the last that. We remember lots of firsts, but how many lasts do we remember? It makes me cry every single time I read it. Thanks for this post!

  27. Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) says:

    Your posts always speak to me. They remind me to treasure the small moments even when all I want is some peace and quiet.

    It goes too fast.

    Thanks for this beautiful reminder. XO

  28. Tonya W. says:

    I don't want to miss a thing and we don't get a second chance.

    Once again, you have reminded me to slow down and enjoy the ride.

    Thank you. xo

  29. With you as their mama, I bet your kids are pretty kick ass. 🙂

    We are growing out both the girls' bangs right now, and we have oodles of clips to hold their too-long bangs out of the way!

  30. Everyday that passes by is a day less to go. Everyday that past created memories. So no day is lost, just gone.
    But Mother always thinks, worries, cares. So that her children don't.

  31. Anastasia says:

    I know it's so hard to feel like your missing memories and they are growing so fast its hard to catch up. I think its a constant struggle for parents.

  32. livingsj77 says:

    Oh this is awesome…and this is what I worry about. I worry my babies will be grown and I'll look back and have missed something critical. I see myself writing this post in 10-15 years. You captured that fear so well.

    Visiting from TRDC

  33. Writerly Wanna Be says:

    My daughter was married in November, and I went through the pictures to do the slide show…wow can I connect to this post! I have one about going through those pictures as well. I love the images you shared in these words, and the emotion tied to it.

  34. Andrea (ace1028) says:

    This is so powerful, so touching and so real. Thank you for sharing it and for opening yourself up like this. It's a reminder to us all that there are so many things we see from our children every day and need to remember even just touches of them to get us through as we move forward. I love the way you captured them all in your boxes and shared them with us.

  35. Mrs. Wonder says:

    This is wonderful. I have a horrible memory, so I file through photos and will the memories to come to me- I don't want to forget any of my son's life.

  36. i can hear the longing in your voice. your writing is really compelling, and I love how youve poured your heart out here.

  37. Booyah's Momma says:

    I can just feel the love you have for your kids oozing from this post. So beautiful.

    And, the way you describe all of your mental pictures makes me, as usual, stop and take a look around my own life. I want to make sure I'm not forgetting anything, either.

  38. This was the wrong place for me to end my day, I have had a supremely nostalgic day and cried three times before we even made it to our mommy and me preschool class this morning.

    Can you imagine what would have been if you kept a blog of it all? Maybe that's the thing you missed!

    This was so gorgeous Sherri, and so needed for us moms with wee ones.