Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Trying to Stay in the Picture

This beautiful article, written by Allison Tate, on Huffington Post just popped up on my person Facebook page. I clicked on it expecting another tongue-in-cheek article that would make me laugh. Instead the first person essay about being in pictures as a mother made me sad.

You see, I love pictures. I take a lot of pictures, especially now that I have a little boy and taking pictures of him is even more fun. I take pictures because I like to look at pictures. I am one of the few that still orders prints and then stores them carefully in photo albums. I take them down randomly and flip through the pictures - they make me happy in a very special way.

But I've stopped printing pictures out in the past six months. In part because it hurts. You might have noticed in this blog: I have a lot of pictures of PJ; the Mr and PJ; other people and PJ; a number of pictures of me holding the camera so that I have a picture of me with PJ; and few of PJ and I together. Especially before my parents and nana arrived to visit, there are precious, precious few pictures of me with PJ. Because those people who were around in those first few weeks either didn't take pictures or took pictures of them with PJ or the Mr. with PJ.

Learning from the hurt, I asked our very talented photographer friend, Aline Lange, to take just a few pictures of PJ and I at his first birthday. And good thing: there was not one single picture of us together by anyone else. And only one of the entire Steinbach clan.

There are most likely some good reasons for that. In the first few weeks of PJ's life, I wasn't doing well. Often I went to my bedroom or slept when there were visitors. Afterwards....well I'm not sure what that was but I'm sure it wasn't mean-hearted. I guess if  we lived close to my family and my long-time friends, they would have most likely taken pictures primarily of me with PJ, leaving out the Mr. (like on our American vacation). No one means to ignore me or leave me out of the picture (literally) but that is what has happened.

And it hurts. Because just like the author I "someday, I want them to see me, documented, sitting right there beside them: me, the woman who gave birth to them....I'm everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won't be here -- and I don't know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now -- but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother."

I am not a perfect mother but I am perfectly PJ's mother. I'd like some record of that, as egotistical as it may be. Until then, do me and all the other moms a favor: take a picture of mom with the kids. I'm not the only one wishing for more pictures.

And moms: hold still and smile.



three cubs and a thesis said...

I so hear you on your not in the pictures. It becomes so important for others to be their with my child. One day though I asked my cousin to take a few while she sat here. I knew she would do a good job since she knew it was important. I figure if I have a nice larger 8/10 of me and them in that really new baby phase, that is nice for me. I know though, I have three sons. At my first son's 6th birthday my sisster came out with the cake and got snapped bringing him the cake, not me. I'm the one that should be there. I made sure I held him a party with his friends, and I appeared in that one. But that moment hit me, and I was like.. um wait, moms not there.. meaning me.

Pickles and Onions said...

Thanks for your post and I gasped at the feeling of your sister and the cake in the picture. :(
Welcome to the blog! I checked yours and it seems to be down. Will try again soon.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. I have tears streaming down my face. I keep saying to my husband that I want more pictures of me and my son, although I do hate to see pictures of me. He says there's lots, but there seems to be so many of them together. And gosh does he smile in those ones (husband that is). I've never seen him smile as much as he does when he takes his own picture of him and his son! Your post put in to words exactly how I feel, just didn't know how to say it. Thank you.

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