Photographs

My husband doesn’t understand why I can never delete any of my pictures.  He can take 5 photos, choose his favorite and easily delete the other 4.  I don’t have that gumph.  I like the off photos, the pictures that will never be posted on Instagram, that show people in the moments before or after they pose.  Some of my favorite photographs are those where the subject doesn’t seem to know they are being photographed, the photos that are slightly out of focus, blurred.

When I was little, my memories were made from the perspective of a little child.  I think about this as I go through the day with my boys; wonder what they see. I think about how much of the world they are taking in and what it looks like from their perspective.  I wonder what they will remember when they are older and I hope that their memories will be made richer from my photographs.

I treasure the few pictures I have from my childhood, especially the pictures with my mom.  Even the pictures that have long been lost to time and cross country moves but are kept in memory.  I remember her as I saw her from my childish stance.  I can see her hands, the pants she wore, the white moon shaped cuticle at the base of each nail.  I catch glimpses in my mind’s eye of the highlights in her hair that I noticed in the airport one time when she flew back to Arkansas.  I can see her stepping on a shovel as she works the dirt in her vegetable garden in our front yard on Elm Street, the curve in her back as she kneels next to the flower bed, pulling weeds.  I remember the feel of the tubes and dressings on her body, hidden by her tie-dye t-shirt, as I hugged her when she picked me up from day camp, and the stillness of her body, eyes closed, as she lay in the hospital bed the last time I saw her.  It’s harder to see her face, her eyes, to imagine her voice, her laugh, to remember many of the things she said to me, the conversations we must have had.

The few photos that I have of her inform me of who she was, how she felt, what she looked like.  My favorites are the photos that catch her in a laugh or a far off glance. They give me a fuller picture of a three-dimensional woman.  They are a clue as to the woman that I may have known had she been around when I was old enough to care about knowing her more fully.

So I keep the off photos, the blurry shots, the accidentals, the photographs taken when there isn’t really anything to see.  I cherish them, even though I don’t know what to do with all of them.  I imagine them in albums one day and until then simply look back from time to time and remember all the small moments that were shared among our growing family.

Here are some of my favorite, recent, off photos (most of which I think are better then the posed):

 

 

 

Saying Goodbye

I.
In the field by the barn
where we picked wild fowers
where the grass beyond grows
knee-high to waist
where you rolled down the hill
and let him jump on you
squeals of laughter dancing
through the trees
as I watched from the window
while I completed my
simple domestic tasks
like drying my hair
-how uncountry of me!
This is where we knelt
and wiped away the dirt
to reveal the promise
of a memory.

II.
The country road winds comfortably through the hills,
green and full of Spring,
past barns both new and old
some red and shiny-roofed
some slowly collapsing back to the earth
from whence they sprung
past fields yellow with mustard
that even now, three days later,
seem a bit burnt to my eye-
ripples of yellow once highlighted
in cool air and morning dew
are now flat and wane under the hot sun.
But perhaps that is the promise of memory too.

III.
It isn’t easy to say good bye
-or “hello”, or “how are you” for that matter.
Everything in life seems to bring its own trials
but standing on this land it is easy
to remember, to hope, to love, to be calm
even when the remembering and the ones we love
can be difficult–
it is easy to breathe in the peace
of the country air.
But it is always hard to say Goodbye


But it is always good to come back home!

On Worrying.

The other day I wrote about worrying (here), about my mind spinning into a tornado of concern.  I wrote that it is because we live in a society with access to too much information, of being bombarded with do’s and don’ts and “this is what i did that worked” messages.  I do firmly believe that all of this excess noise can lead to an increase in our anxiety and our inability to be confident in our own instincts but, I want to clarify that I also know that it is simply a fact that Mother’s worry.  It’s what we do.  It’s what I do, it’s what my mother did (does).  I can’t help it.  I”m a worrier- it’s in my DNA.  I suspect that mothers are hard wired to worry about their children and I know this is a definitive component to our survival as a species.

Last night, as I was rocking a sleepy and under-the-weather Casey in my lap, I was thinking about my capacity for worry.  I had a vivid recollection of the first few times that I took him out on walks in his Ergo carrier and the tornado of worries that rushed through my mind.  I remembered nestling him into the infant insert, making sure his little arms were tucked in and all of his tiny clothes pulled down and tucked around him before I strapped him in, creating a cozy nest for him to snuggle against me in as we walked.  I thought about the baby hats we would always put on him before going outside, what it was like to get used to strapping him and myself into the Ergo those first few times.  I remembered walking around the streets of Seattle, returning library books and picking up groceries.  On each trip I was overwhelmed with a barrage of questions that worried my mind with each step: “Is he warm enough? Is he too warm? Can he breath?  Should I have put him in a jacket? Is he bouncing too much? Will the siren’s be too loud? How can I shield him from her cigarette smoke while we wait for this light to change? How can I protect him now? How will I protect him as he gets older? Is he warm enough?”

Laughing at myself, I recall that I actually wrote about this before here (see the bottom half of the second paragraph). Good to know that I haven’t changed all that much in the past year.  I’ve always been somewhat of a worrier (somewhat?), always been a bit anxious (just a bit, huh?), prone to spinning thoughts.  I’ve learned how to manage this as I’ve gotten older and, now that I’m a mother, I’m learning more each day about the importance of slowing down and living in each moment as it passes, the importance of taking care of myself in order to be able to take care of others and how to calm my mind when it starts to run.  These days I generally feel able to trust that I am strong enough and smart enough to handle what may come. I still worry- about how to protect my child, how to keep him safe and shield him from the ugly parts of the world for as long as I can. It’s what I do.  I’m a mom now.  I can’t help it.

Here’s a look back at some photo’s from around the time we first started taking him our in the Ergo.  Our first official walk was four blocks away to the grocery store, when Casey was 10 days old.

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Alex with Casey in the Baby Bjorn.

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