In searching for a photo the other day, through my endless and now digital photo album archives, I realized just how few pictures of me there were with my family. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one who likes having her picture taken, as what develops is never what I see from my eyes out. However, through the years as my daughters have grown, holidays and special times, there are just a few scattered photos of me, peppered through the banquet of faces. One of the obvious reasons, is I have always been the photographer, setting up the perfect shot for the memory of my film, digital disk and heart. Because I was the sole focus parent for most of their lives, I made sure life wasn’t kept in a darkroom and was always there even when they were not.
Seeing the laughter, tears and silliness more often than not surrounding a celebration or meal, I remembered a poem which was tucked into my cookbook. Simple theme, but the meaning was true. It was a an adult remembering how every Sunday dinner his mother always took the chicken wing and from the eyes of innocence, thought she liked it. In deed, a mother’s love is on the wings of her heart.
Between the daily Melmac and Sunday Currier and Ives, our table was set for three and food was done family style. Mom took her helping after Dad and I, or on a special occasion when the rest of the family had been served. It never dawned on me; she took what was left until I was a mother myself. I would always set the table and my girls would eat, while I “cleaned up” around them. Once they were done more evenings than I can remember, my dinner was what they left behind. So, I guess even as a vegetarian, I preferred the wing as well.
When we become parents, the only guide we have is what comes from the heart and it directs us to the best interest of our child through love, compassion and unselfishness to a fault. I have always teased my girls, telling them I do things for them because “I am the Mom!” But the truth is just that, I am the mom, a job I took on in eager anticipation of giving all I had to share this life with them. There isn’t a mom alive who can’t echo this sentiment – I said “mom” not parent, just to be clear. In some wise words, “any cat can have kittens.”
I may not have a lot of pictures of myself with my daughters in a self promotion of having given birth. But I have watched as three little girls grew into beautiful young women and aside from the nurse telling me “It’s a girl!” the most heart filling words I ever heard were, “That’s my mom!” If I could use it as a dictionary definition, those moments would be pictures worth a thousand words and only those four would be worthy.
Watching my grandchild play and grow I see the cycle begin again. I catch them when they least expect it and when they pose for my heart and camera. Their memories and pictures will be with me always. All I can hope for is they remember I tried to be there when it mattered, tried to feed, cloth and spoil them the best way possible, always playing as dishes and dusting waited.
Basically, I want them to know as far as they are concerned, I will always be in the picture.