quality time vs. quality photos

As a photographer, it has been a bit of a struggle for me as a mom to balance capturing moments versus really being IN the moment. I can get so caught up in taking photos and lugging around my giant camera that I forget to truly engage with my son and my husband. On the flip side, I love having photos because when I look at them, they help me to remember. They are a visual way to jog my memory and the feelings of that moment come flooding back to me. 

So, it becomes a big decision. Which is more important?

The memories I make, or the quality of photos I take?

My husband knows this about me and a few months ago he decided to surprise me with a little point and shoot camera. It will fit right in my purse or my pocket and I can take it with me anywhere. It has been hard for me to use it because it is so slow to take a photo and quite frankly I am a photo snob. I always end up wishing I had my "real" camera with me instead because the quality of the photos just can't compare. 

However, when it came time for Nathan, Keegan and I to go to the Christmas train for the first time ever, I decided that I didn't want to carry around my giant camera with the giant flash mounted on top of it. I just brought the point and shoot and kept it in my pocket almost the entire time. I couldn't have made a better decision. We walked away with a handful of photos from the evening. Poor quality photos that remind me of the most amazing memory, of time spent with my precious family. 

When we first arrived Keegan was just boiling with excitement. He is a boy that LOVES everything about trains and he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw it for the first time. I breathed it all in. I was amazed. This was a magical place and I myself was reminded of the wonder and mystery of Christmas. The lights twinkled, the air was cold and brisk. Just as we were boarding the train after they had announced "ALL ABOARD!" over the speaker, I lost it. I started crying uncontrollably. My husband kindly giggled at me and gave me a squeeze as I told him why I was crying. 

This was the heart of my two year old son. This was his wildest dream come true. All of his toy train tracks at home, the trains that he sees on his way to Nana and Papa's house, or all of the Thomas and Friends episodes ever made could never have prepared him for this amazing experience. It is hard to put it into words even now. But one thing is for sure, I was completely present. I wasn't hiding behind a camera. I was watching my little boy's face light up like it had never done before. 

After the train ride, we ate and played, road ponies, went on a wagon ride and ended the night by sharing a cinnamon roll.  I smiled the entire drive home from ear to ear. I wanted to put every emotion I felt that night and every memory into a bottle and keep it forever. But since I can't figure out a way to do that, I have a few photos from my little point and shoot that will remind me.