Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day: Capturing Memories

(Originally published on 7 May 2010 on "A Suburban Mom's Survival Guide"

While spending an absurd amount of time searching for a decent picture of myself to post with this article, I came to a couple of realizations. First, I have at least a dozen huge photo albums dating from 1996 to 2006 in which there are minimal pictures of me. Tons of kid pictures. Plenty of shots of the grandparents with tiny babies in their arms. Super cute shots of the kids with their aunts and uncles. Each year chronicled with Dad and three kids smiling happily on Easter, Christmas, or at the 4th of July. One main person is missing . . . Mom! This leads me to believe that I must have taken most all of these pictures or I was hiding out somewhere. 
Second, the pictures I did find of myself show me as a true Mom in action. I’m sure you know the pictures. For the photos of the darling baby years, Mom is looking half-asleep, dressed in mismatched clothing (if completely dressed at all) with a half-smile and haggard look on her face. I’m wearing a spit-cloth tossed casually over my shoulder awaiting that next burp. My hair isn’t brushed, I can tell I haven’t showered in a couple of days, and I’m definitely carrying around too many of those extra post-pregnancy pounds.
Fast forward a year. Now the first baby is toddling around while I’m also toddling around heavily pregnant with baby number two. At this point I think I was probably avoiding the camera altogether, hence the lack of pictures. Mom still looks exhausted but smiling happily for the camera with her eyes closed.
A few years later that camera captures me as a blur of motion as I chase after two very active kids. In the few pictures I could find, I’m usually wearing my uniform of jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers pushing a stroller around The Mall in Washington, DC, in front of the panda cage with my monkeys at the National Zoo, or at a backyard BBQ wearing the children’s BBQ all over my shirt. My favorite pictures of me from this era of my life are those of me asleep in the sun on boats. (No, not lounging in the sun in my bathing suit. I wish!) These shots are of me stealing a quick nap while someone else watched the kids who are pictured wildly running around the boat.
Then that third bundle of joy finally arrives. Now looking back on these pictures of a blob-like me after four months on bed-rest, I’m wondering why I ever let anyone take a picture of me in that state and why I bothered to put these pictures in an album instead of destroying them completely! That baby-to-preschooler picture cycle starts up again with a few more snapshots of me looking a bit more relaxed, cleaner, and much fitter as that third baby grows up. 
But now I’ve run out of picture albums because all of those kid pictures are now housed on my hard-drive, waiting to be printed and placed in an album. Years worth of pictures of kids with their friends, playing sports, and occasionally with their Mom. 
This Mother’s Day, do Mom a favor. Take that camera away from her and put Mom in front of the lens instead of behind it. Take pictures of your beautiful mothers, print off the best pictures, and frame them for her.  Lavish Mom with love not only on this Mother’s Day but every day.