When I was growing up, there were two things my mom could not live without: her planner and her camera. Ironically, she was very often losing them both. A few of our contributors are known for their love of planners (it is one of Lauren’s New Year must-haves!), but that is one of mom’s obsessions that did not rub off on me. The photoholic tendencies, however, are another story.
My mother has thousands of pictures. Most of them are in albums because back in the day you had to actually print pictures to look at them, so I can think of an event or trip or vague time in my life, go pull out that year’s album (or set of albums – thousands, I’m telling you!), and bask in all the 80’s glory of perms, shoulder pads, and pastel everything. I can walk through all of my awkward phases of the 90s (what’s that? You only had one awkward phase? Boy did you ever miss out! *eye roll*), then point to my brothers’ awkward phases to make me feel better. There are pictures of every family member, all our friends and teammates, and every teacher we ever had. But one person is noticeably absent from almost all these seemingly endless albums…
Of course she was there, but she was always on the other side of the camera. She cherishes all the memories captured in those photos, especially since they are all taken from her perspective! But as I get older – and watch my parents get older – I wish I had more pictures of my mom to reminisce on my childhood from my own figurative lens, which was very often directed toward my mama.
This brings me to now, my own life as a mom. The truth is, much of my children’s day consists of looking at me. Whether I am playing a game with them, serving them food, disciplining them, or snuggling on the couch, there I am, right in their midst. I memorialize these occasions for myself by snapping pictures, but these will one day be their memories as well, so shouldn’t their perspective also be recorded?
These oft-bemoaned images of self-absorbed teenage egotism might just be more than meets the eye. Sure, the overly edited, filter-happy shots of “like”-lusting youths are exhausting if not downright annoying to any sensible adult well-settled into the glorious land of 30-something, #IWokeUpLikeThisForReal, “Dirty Hair Don’t Care” apathy that is being a parent. And yet, there is something strangely appealing, even magical, about capturing the perfectly imperfect #nofilter moments of motherhood. I spend a great deal of time documenting my children’s childhoods, so why not do the same for my motherhood?
One day, I will be gone. Most likely, my children will live at least some part of their lives without me. Hopefully it is a relatively small part, as I wish to see them grow up and raise families of their own. However, we are not promised tomorrow. I want my children to remember not only that their childhoods were enjoyable, that they were the cutest freaking babies on the entire freaking planet, and that we occasionally did stuff like draw with sidewalk chalk and have birthday parties. I also want them to remember that their Mommy enjoyed every moment she could. Their mom was silly, loved to laugh, and every so often got her eyebrows just right. (Hopefully they’ll forget that “on fleek” was a thing.) When my daughter is my age, I want her to look at my pictures and compare our features. When my kids have children of their own, I want them to see that I cherished our snuggles together as much as I enjoyed watching them from a distance.