Love and Photography
I was never sure if I wanted to be a mother. I was on my own for so long and fiercely independent. And if we are being honest, I was just plain selfish.
However, when I met my future husband, those ideas quickly changed. Much to my disbelief, I had found someone that made me want to be and do more — including having children. But even as we announced our pregnancy to family, I questioned my ability to be selfless and love unconditionally the way a mother should. It wasn’t until we had a small scare at her birth and she was not immediately handed over to me that I knew my every thought, emotion and action from here on out would be about her.
Since my daughter’s birth, I have documented her growth in a series of photos. For the first 12 months I dutifully posed her in a chair, with a doll and tiara. I had planned to do this every month until the day she flew from our nest – a thought that even now, at a mere four years old, brings a tear to my eye.
Early on, I envisioned this series of photos as a way for her to look back and realize how much I adore her. For the first year I documented her growth without fail. Even when she would not sit still and the photos were blurry and recorded more tantrums than development we soldiered through. But as projects in our house have a tendency to do, this one fell to the wayside. The monthly photo shoots turned to bi-monthly, then quarterly and finally, if I remembered amidst our busy schedule, bi-annually.
With each month that passed, I felt as if I had somehow failed her. I had failed to document how much I adore this child — the child that, until she was just moments from being in my arms, I had no idea that I had the capacity to love someone this much. I want so desperately to record her every moment. When her father and I are gone, I want her to know with certainty that she was loved and valued.
And it was quite a shock to realize that all of photos in the world will not fill her with that validation.
It will be all of those moments that I forgot to bring the camera or the time I left my iPhone in the car and didn’t post the trip to the zoo to Facebook. It will be in the moment that I didn’t tweet the funny toddler-ism. She will know she is loved by the time I spend with her outside of the view of the lens. When I am gone, my daughter will know that she was loved by the memories we made, not by the photographs.
Yes, it is disappointing that I could not keep up with such a simple project. But I console myself with the fact that I am keeping up with a much greater one.