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December 19, 2008

Mom, Get In Front of the Camera!

Img_0073 My mother was intensely camera shy. Well, scratch that, not camera shy, per se, more camera avoidant. She hated to have her picture taken with the fury of hell. She didn't like how much she weighed, though she wasn't fat, she didn't like how she looked, and so she avoided the camera. She'd run away if you whipped out a camera near her, and actually one of my favorite pictures of her is one my uncle took as she chased him with a fireplace poker as he danced just out of her reach, because she was mad he snuck up on her and took her picture. It was a fun game for us, to try and see if we could get a picture of her. I have a handful of pictures of her, always with her in some bizarre pose, or in mid cooking, or something, never with a smile, because the only way you could get her picture was with an ambush.

And then she died suddenly. She was 37, I was 15. My life is longer than hers was.

I've been going through our photos from the last year, hurriedly trying to finish a photo calendar for the grandparents and great-grandmother, and something struck me as I went through the photos: how infrequently I am in them. Despite the fact that my sister got married and I was in the wedding. The kids were, too, and we have plenty of pictures of them, amazing pictures of them, but only a couple of me. We have trips all over the place, the Roosevelt Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Gravelly Point near National Airport, where we go to watch the planes takeoff and land, and from where we have dozens of pictures of airplanes, but none of me. This started to bother me more and more, and the final straw is a vacation we took to the Outer Banks in September, where there is not one picture of me. None. No sign that I even existed in my kids' lives, because I am the one taking the photos, the one documenting their lives.

Now that my mother is gone, I have only a handful of pictures of her, most of them odd poses, or of her when she was younger, when parental disapproval was enough to keep her there for the picture. I cherish them beyond almost all other material goods I have. How I wish I had more of them. I don't care what my mother looked like, what she was wearing, what her weight was. She was beautiful to me.

I told my husband that he has to start taking more pictures of me. If anything ever happens to me, I want my kids to have more evidence that I was in their lives. When I told my husband that there was no picture of me at all from vacation, he was appropriately contrite and agreed to take over camera duties more often. I don't always like the results, but they don't care what I look like. They just care that I'm their Mom.

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Original DC Metro Moms blog post. When she's not documenting her kids' lives with the camera, Mary/FishyGirl blogs about the chaos of their lives at The Fish Pond.

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