We've dubbed this particular door "the portrait door."
In front of it, the girls stand for pictures, saying "cheese," adorably posing for photographs that I'll later send to my long-distance family, and, most importantly, to their dad at work.
My favorites are the candids. Yes, they've gone to the door intentionally, but it's a sister laughing at another sister's silly pose, or a spontaneous hug, or a real smile that crept into the series of fake ones before it, that always end up being the best.
We mark special occasions with pictures, too -- I take images of birthdays, and new teeth, and first days of school, and last days of vacations. We mark nothing moments, the ones that are the most special to me -- I capture with my iPhone snacks on our spontaneous trip to the zoo, or I snap a photo of the baby pointing at a family of wild turkeys that parade through our backyard.
I filter some, to obscure their little faces a bit, or to blur parts of the picture, so that I can feel better about sharing them online with strangers. I sometimes make one black and white, or I share a side-view of my child's profile on my public Instagram, but the full-on, adorable smile on my private Facebook account.
I take these pictures for myself, and they serve as mini journal entries. They are reminders -- bookmarks -- for a thought that quickly came to me for an article, but I take this picture to mark the memory, rather than taking the time to lug out my pen and notebook, and jot it down in words.
I share these pictures of my children, these pieces of my heart, with others, and I see how so many people do the same. I understand now more than ever why some celebrities go so far out of their ways to protect their children from a camera lens, and also why they take control and share their own special photos, too.
We are careful, knowing of predators and perverts, but we also don't want to live caged for the few people who spoil the world for the rest.
I've gotten messages from readers asking my opinions about sharing pictures of my kids with the world, or at least with the handful of people who will take the time to care. I respond directly about my caution, but I also tell firmly that my only solid opinion is to be most careful of attaching our own thoughts and beliefs onto everyone else's actions and desires.
It's intensely personal -- this decision to take and share pictures of our kids. It's wise and necessary to be cautious.
My own childhood was filled with pictures, but they were different. They were Polaroids nestled inside albums. They were slideshows presented only to other family members who were there and sitting on our sofa. Selfies with friends in high school often had closed eyes, since we had to wait for the film to develop. My parents had phones with cords attached to the wall, not devices that were always on-hand; ever-ready wherever we went.
Pictures have long been family treasures, but modern parenting abuts technology and personal choice each and every time that we choose to share our precious memories with others.
Yet my children are the most beautiful, naturally joyful parts of my life. They are reminders of what's good; woven into hard days of mothering, or scary depictions on the news. They are easily the most wonderful creations I've ever been a part of making.