If you’ve been reading for a while, you’re probably familiar with my monthly photo project. I started when Eleanor was a baby. I bought the same pink bodysuit in different sizes, made a felt pin with a number in the center that could be switched out, and photographed her in the same chair and in the same setting each month to document her first year. As those first twelve months came to a close, I decided to continue taking the monthly photos until she turned two, and then yearly after that. I did the same thing for her little brother, August, and I’m doing it now for Calvin.
I love having the photos to look back on. It’s fun to see how each child has grown, and also to look at their photos side-by-side from the same ages. And I love that it has inspired so many others to take on the project, too!
Babies are sort of universal. Assuming normal development, they grow at roughly the same rate, reach the same milestones, sit up, learn to talk, learn to walk, and so on. Of course they have different temperaments and each baby is unique, but documenting their growth through a series of photos isn’t violating any burgeoning personhood. They’re babies. They grow quickly, and it’s fun to see that in pictures.
As the kids grow older though, I hesitate to share as much. Their experiences are less universal and more specific to them as individuals. As they begin to choose their haircuts, their clothes, and the way that they want to present themselves, they should be able to explore their identities without strangers watching or commenting.
Eleanor will turn six next month. I’m planning to continue taking her yearly photo, but I won’t be publishing it. Five years old feels like a good place to end the series publicly, and I’ll do the same for August and Calvin. This isn’t to say that you will never see my kids’ photos as they get older (though I have dialed that back). There is a difference though between a picture that happens to have them in it, and a series specifically shot to show how they have physically changed as they’ve aged.
May my children never choose something as awful as the perm I got when I was ten (a body wave — so sophisticated!), but if they do, they can do it in relative anonymity, away from their mom’s blog.