Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mommy photos

One of my favorite photos of all time is one of my grandma holding my dad. 

There are other photos from this day, my tubby toddler daddy laying on his tummy, with his dark hair no doubt curled with  by his mother's fingers in preparation for the photographer, into that little cherub style swirl.

I don't know if the photographer asked her to pose, or if they just happened to snap this one in between shots.

But it is my favorite.

Her dark hair tied back with that scarf. That mommy hold I know cuz my babies are tubby too.
The familiarity of her attention, her gaze, her heart, in that moment turned to her child.

I'm so glad they took of picture of her that day and didn't just shoot the baby, as cute as he is.

I read this post today. Loved it. Shawni is so good, isn't she?
Then I also went and re-read the original post  she referenced, where author Allison Tate encouraged moms to "Get in the Picture!" So good. 
If you don’t have time…just go read theirs instead of mine. Seriously.

Mine will proably be redundant, but I read once to blog about what you chat with your girlfriends about on the phone and those are both the kind of articles that would keep me and my friends chatting!

I’ve thought about this a lot. Looking at pictures from my own childhood. Not seeing too many with my mom in them. Here's a few gems I scrounged up. 

I think this is my favorite though. It's not Christmas or a birthday or a vacation it just looks like so many mornings around here---although my mom's housecoat is sure a lot cuter than mine! 

She doesn't even have her glasses on...which never happens. 
Which made me wonder:
Had I kept her up all night?
 teething perhaps? had I finally been made happy gnawing on a plate? 

I wonder if she even remembers. 

All those year being my mamma 24/7 and just a handfull of photos to somehow represent the millions of other moments that didn't get exposed onto film.

I loved how Shawni posted some of her pics with her kids, so they’d be there-- accessible.

 Inspired, I started sifting through my many photos. Thinking surely of all the thousand and thousands of jpegs I dutifully add to daily, surely there'd be a few of me and my kids. And there was. But not many. And most of them have that, I just thrust the camera at my husband and told him to take a picture of us, so I can prove I was there too look about them. You know the one right?

As Shawni put it, 

“I want us to remember their life was not just them standing smiling at the camera.”  

Oh there's lots of Ben and the kids. Him sleeping with a newborn snuggled on his chest—a classic...why can dad' sleep when babies sleep and us silly moms are still awake taking pictures! I love the ones of Ben and the kids because so many of them are candid. There are the products of me seeing Ben being a dad and being moved by the moment enough to point my lens and capture it for posterity. There are looks and laughter and postures that are all so natural, relaxed and real. 

And then there's me looking at the camera, holding a squirmy kid on my lap. 
So unnatural, forced, poised.  There’s some good pictures, but very few of the true to life, "in the moment ones" I’d love to have.

What I need (like in so many situations of my life;) is me! I need another me to take pictures of me and my kids. I need me to see those little moments and click before I/me (this is getting confusing!) notices and thinks about whether my chin looks weird at that angle. 

 I am lucky, and so glad I have some photos I love, taken with real talent. 

But they are still studio pictures and not the everyday life I want so badly to remember. 

 I have more of me and Aaron. 

First time mamma, eager to document her journey. 

These pictures snapped by Ben or friends I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with in our "Apex summers" aren't beautiful to me because my makeup was just right or my hair was just so or my outfit carefully planned. 
They are beautiful because of how they make me remember what it felt like to mother --then.  even they aren't the total candid's I long for.

To feel that growing boy firmly on my hip, his hand (as always) reaching for my hair, his brother kicking from inside me, already clamouring for my attention. How Aaron was my one and only little buddy. Daddy worked long, long hours and it was him and me day in day out. He was my meal time companion, my naptime cuddler, my everything. I like remembering that feeling of undividedness, devotion and really that co-dependance. 

He gave me a reason to be, and I gave him everything I had.

I look and I see I'm young. 
Not in a bemoaning my youth kinda way, but I just look at my a few years less worn face and think, “you were just trying your best to figure things out weren't you?”. In ten years I'll probably look at pictures of my now and probably think the same thing.

I see a mom who thinks one day she'll sleep. Poor thing has no idea. I see a mom who thinks her heart can't possible hold any more love. Again she’s so  wrong. I see a mom who wanted to do her best but everyday went to bed wondering if her efforts and failings will ever feel like enough. She still does. 

I see a mom looking at her son. And I remember what I saw. It's amazing how enthralled a parent can be with their child. That all normal things...ears, feet, cowlicks, eyelashes beg to be inspected again and again, our maternal instincts pleading with us to commit these details to memory, in all their infantile perfection.

One of my all-time cherished pictures is this one.
Because one, I know I had no idea it was being taken (by a random Apex sales guy, trying out his new camera on any subject that crossed his viewfinder) and two because it shows me what the main feeling of all those years of young mothering really were ( so many ways I'm still there). Closeness.  

I'm so glad the sales guy thought to he give it to me. Every time I see it, I see how close he is nestled into my body, reminding me how much we were a part of each other. How there is no other place as comfortable, or as familiar as snuggled, touching, as if held by an invisible womb that draws you in protecting you just as surely as if you were still receiving all you needed from an embicial cord. Close. Connected. Safe.

All things we strive for in other relationships, so often unsuccessfully. 
And yet there it is, as a mother holds their child.

I still lay my head on my moms lap and feel like nothing else can touch me.

I want my kids to remember that feeling when the world becomes so much bigger and scarier than it was on my lap.

I want more of these.  Not for any vanity. In fact it is often vain fears that stop us....all aware of, as Allison Tate put it "our mamma bodies."

I've taken a few photos for some new moms in the last little bit. Nothing fancy. No backdrops or cutsie props. Just mammas and there babies and some good light streaming in from an open window nearby. They shy away from being in the pictures, knowing their "I just had a baby!" bodies all too well. 
But some of my favorite pictures are those where I convinced the mamma to be in the picture and caught for a moment a genuine smile at their baby. That new falling in love with every wiggly ounce of you smile. The, “how can you not have always existed and I always have loved you?” smile.

I've been on a little baby break. And to tell you the truth there are lots of things I'm fine not dealing with right now. I don't get too "baby hungry". I know lots of woman, who just LOVE the new born stage. And I’m just gonna be a bad person and say it: I am not one of them. New borns are hard! 
I obviously love my new borns but I feel like they just get funner and funner as they grow. 

Yet taking picture of this little newborn this week, made me remember one thing I DO love about newborns: Taking pictures of them! 
With eacj of my babies I've sat in the hospital bed, knees bent, cradling that new little bundle on my thighs, camera in hand, zooming, closer and closer into the soft wrinkles of my new love. I'd hold up feet and take so many picture each focused on a different little toe, not wanting to miss an inch of their perfection . Through that lens I SEE. I look and look and feel like I get to really meet my new child.

Thanks little Wyatt for reminding me of that!

But I’m getting off topic. We were discussing us moms getting in the photo archives of our families lives.

So how do we do this? I want more picture of me with my kids...but how? 
Short of hiring a professional photographer to follow us around to capture those little moments...hmmm...
First I did thought of friends. 
Those other moms, who see like I see, because they have felt what I feel.
I love this one I took of my friend that boy loves his mamma!

So if you’re my friend…feel free to take my picture! And expect that I may be creeping around with my camera at our play dates too;)

The other thought was my good old iPhone. They may be low quality but they are still a record. So today, as I 
(as always) made googley eyes and gave smooches to my little potty training Levi while he, you guessed it, sat on the potty doing his business. 
I thought: this is one of those moments! All these faces and kisses we share (basically because I’m a captive audience waiting to wipe his bum!) I want to remember this.

And now I will.

Memories are so much more fragile than they at first feel. 

Again Allison Tate's article was just so good:
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 have a good friend who’s mom died young. 
She only has one picture of just her and her mom. 
But it is so perfect.
You can tell so much from this one picture. 
You can't even quite see her moms face, but man you can see hers. 

It totally reminded me of what Shawni wrote:

I believe that mother-love seeps from a mother’s heart into her childrens’. And then it starts to glow within those childrens’ eyes. From there it sparkles clear as day. And every time I see that sparkle in their eyes, that mother knows they know it: they are adored.

So even if it's just grainy iPhone pictures I squeeze into, I hope my kids will see how much they are adored.  Cuz they are.

So while I'm sure I'll still be doing a lot of this:

Hopefully they're be more of these:

So one day my kids can feel the way I feel when I look at this. 
Grateful. Humbled. So very happy that my mom wore Disneyland shirts and had me wear adorable bonnets. So glad that I have had my own babies and that I could look at those baby thighs and know exactly what they feel like because my hands have held my babies in just that same way. That my elbows look like hers. Glad I was hers. My beautiful mom.

One last quote from Allison Tate:

"When I look at pictures of my own mother, I don't look at cellulite or hair debacles. I just see her -- her kind eyes, her open-mouthed, joyful smile, her familiar clothes. That's the mother I remember. My mother's body is the vessel that carries all the memories of my childhood. I always loved that her stomach was soft, her skin freckled, her fingers long. I didn't care that she didn't look like a model. 
She was my mama."

I asked Ben once if he thought our boys thought I was pretty.
He looked at me with utter confusion in his eyes, “Ya, of course” he replied.

And I actually believed him.


yoga mamma said...Best Blogger Tips

Oh how you always make me cry, cry cry. Beautiful post.

yoga mamma said...Best Blogger Tips
This comment has been removed by the author.