To make space for more memories, I’m deleting the outtakes

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“Hey, Mom! Say, ‘CHEESE!'” Photo c. Kate Wehr, 2022

 I started this week with about 16,600 photos stashed on my personal computer. I didn’t check the beginning numbers on my phone’s archive, but after an hour of sorting and deleting on both devices, I still had 492 videos and 9,935 images left to back up from my cell. 

My photo storage was overfull. Again. And then, in a weekend filled with family firsts, we loaded up a carful of kids and headed for Yellowstone National Park. It’s one of our favorite places, but we had never taken the whole crew before. The overall expedition, as one might expect in a toddler-filled household, shall henceforth be remembered as, “The Clampetts Go Glamping.”

There were blowouts. There were epic meltdowns. There were sticky marshmallow faces and bears and wolves and bubbling landscapes that reeked worse than a lumberjack’s fart. (I should know. I married one. Not the hipster kind, either.)

Sometimes the outtakes are obvious. A thumb over an image, a snap of gray carpet, a wall of pitch black. Then there are the embarrassing ones. The questionable selfies, clearly taken by a child, that I reference in my Boy Moms essay. Hundreds of silly faces and partial faces and blurry appendages. To cap it all off, there are the dozens of infamously unflattering body shots of mom that call attention to all of the excess weight and unsightly postpartum shape changes I don’t want on display. 

It takes no thought to delete dozens of these images, until I spot the little videos my kids have taken of themselves in the grocery store, or the random photographs of bread and vegetables on the kitchen counter. Somebody’s eyeball. Someone else’s freckles. A flower. A stack of laundry.

Dear God, there’s my ass. Who took THAT?

Here it is, in all its joyful chaos: not only evidence of my children delighting in all their stolen minutes with mom’s phone, but an unbiased collection of candid snapshots that highlight the way they see me, the way they fit into our family and interact as siblings in all the little moments when they think the adults are not watching. 

I want to preserve as many of these as I can. So, goodbye, 27 photographs of carpet fiber. Mama’s making room for more memories.

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