I have always been perfectly content being the one who takes the photos–happily lugging my camera wherever we go, capturing as many of our adventures–the large and the small–as possible. When I look at the photos I’ve taken especially over the last near-six years, I am proud of the fact (and grateful) that I have put a priority on photography. As one who has roughly just two dozen photos of herself from birth through age 15, I know I tend to take more pictures than most. But I have never regretted a single one.
Recently a good friend was looking at a group of photos I had sent out and reminded me of the importance of getting in front of the camera from time to time. She had good reasons for saying so; and as I deeply respect her opinion on all matters, I gave it some serious thought. The problem is is that I am perennially uncomfortable having my photo taken–so much so that there have been times folks have grabbed my camera and snapped a photo or two, and I have gone home to my computer and either deleted the photo altogether or cropped myself out, rationalizing that the true stars of the photo are my children.
Of course there are photos of me–and plenty of them–that people have taken; but I am very selective about what I choose to keep for posterity and what makes it into the recycle bins of cyberspace and the City of Newport. There are probably many reasons for my admittedly extreme reaction–none of them good, I am sure, but probably fabulous fodder for a promising graduate student in psychology. But I digress . . .
Last week, at age 42, I took swimming lessons for the first time. I was terrified (to put it mildly); but I did it–for myself and for my children. And this weekend on the porch I submitted to being photographed (over 20 times) with the boys. The impetus, of course, was to provide Adoptive Families magazine with a photo to accompany an article I recently wrote. My being photographed is nothing new, but what was new was my reaction to it: I looked at the photos my husband took; and instead of self-consciousness and discomfort, I felt what it was my friend was talking about: a photo that captured the beauty of my children and the utter joy I feel being their mother.
The boys will have, I hope, a lifetime of memories and my writing to remind them of that joy–but having photographs such as this will offer them something else.
This week I will get back in the pool and continue my quest to learn to swim. And in the future, I think I am going to consent to more photos of myself and be a whole lot less selective in my editing, putting aside my own self-consciousness for three boys who will hopefully one day look at photos of their mother and see in every one how very much she loved them.