I have a very nice camera, and even though I could use a few photography lessons, I love taking photos. I enjoy capturing memories of my son and my family. My camera now takes up one of my allowable carry-ons when we travel via airplane. I wouldn’t even think of not taking it along.
But whenever I arrive home to download those photos, it becomes blatantly obvious to me that something is missing from those photos – me. I am sure this is a problem many mothers have. Somehow, among other things, we become the family historians, the recorder of all those wonderful memories, the obvious missing piece in albums pulled out years from now. I have taken it upon myself to be this person – no one is forcing me to take these photos. But many times, if I don’t – no one does.
I loved my wedding. And one of the many reasons is because someone else was taking all the photos (and doing a damn good job of it, I might add). All I had to do was enjoy the day and every memory was captured, without me having to think about it, without me stopping everything to take another picture. On our last vacation I was wishing I had a personal photographer to follow me around, as there were moments I would have just enjoyed a bit more if I weren’t trying to capture all those precious childhood memories of my son’s. To do: Hire personal family photographer. Check! (Yeah, right!)
I’m going to go ahead and assume there are (many) other moms out there (and maybe a few dads) who find themselves constantly behind the camera. When they look at their photo albums (which they probably also assembled on their own), they probably think things like, “Hey, there is my family at Disney World. I could have sworn I was there, too.” Or, “Wow, everyone looks so happy at my daughter’s first birthday party. I must have been snapping photos while also frosting extra cupcakes in the kitchen.” And do these same family record-keepers see photos 10 years later and excitedly point out the fact that they appear in a random shot, most likely engaged in some sort of task or half cut off in a frame of happy guests? “Where’s mom?” “Oh, that’s my arm, stopping that kid from diving into the perfectly decorated cake, thank you very much!”
There are countless photos out there of family outings, parties and holiday events which mysteriously eliminate one particular family member. And maybe just as many that capture that same family member in unflattering poses or in ‘action shots’ instead of leisurely enjoying the activity being captured. And I don’t believe most of these people (moms mostly, I assume) are begrudgingly taking on those tasks in the moment. But I do think that after the fact, their absence is perfectly obvious. And maybe something can be done about that.
Maybe as selfless moms, we are all supposed to say something along the lines of “I’m just happy I got to be there,” or “I didn’t have any make-up on so I’m glad no one took a photo of me.” But you know what, I’d love to see myself in a few more photos, especially with my son. He is only getting bigger, and the photos of just the two of us are few and far between.
So consider this a public service announcement. If you are in the presence of another mom, diligently trying to capture all those timeless memories of her own children, maybe offer to pick up the camera for her for a few minutes, so those ‘timeless’ memories include a very important person – mom. If she doesn’t thank you now, she will 20 years from now.