|Jack looking dramatically off towards the sunset.|
I regularly worry about the fact that there are no photos of me but I don't worry about it enough to actually take photos. Instead I wring my hands over for a day or two and then go back to life.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The easier one to explain is that I like taking photos. I like them to look good. This makes getting photos of me from others is hard for me. Once one begins to study photography, then every image becomes one for analysis. When my kids take photos, I work very hard to be supportive and encouraging but inside I find myself noticing focus that is off or chopped limbs or uneven lighting. You should know that I never mention these things, instead I choose to focus on the finer elements of what they have done so that they are encouraged to continue. The whole positive reinforcement thing.
The second reason is that I hate photos of me. A lot of people do so I know that I am not alone in this but we hate them to varying degrees. I spent decades cutting myself out of photos and refusing to get into photos. I can count the number of times I have been photographed (since I was married) on my hands. I almost always, I have deleted or destroyed the photos. I do not even have photos of me at my children's baptisms. Really. I won't get in the photo. I know, it's stupid, but it is what I have done and there is no undoing it.
I nearly died six years ago when I nearly bled out after a surgical complication. I don't say that lightly and I do mean to write a book about that at some point. In fact, I hate it when people tell me that they have nearly died because they seldom know of what I speak. If you were not in intensive care on a ventilator, please do not tell you almost bled to death. If you felt faint or tired but were not sedated and intubated, you can't understand what I am talking about. But, I digress. My point is that my husband cautioned me later that there were no photos of me for my children. He worried that if I died, and because I was in intensive care and there was a potential for it, there would be no photos of me for my children. You would think that I might snap out of my vanity at that point and take some photos, but I didn't and I don't now. When I had to take publicity photos for my publisher, I cried about it. There were expertly done but I still hate looking at my own face and nothing that the enormously skilled and kind (so, so kind) photographer could have done or said would change that. It was my problem, not Molly's, which means I need to fix it. But I don't.
I did take those photos but I hate them; not because of the photos, but because they are of me. I love Molly's work (see her site HERE) and I love looking at the amazing photos she takes. I just can't stand looking at myself. Authors need to take photos for publishers who need to use them and they are used, so I just...look away. I don't look at those photos. I would rather hide behind my own camera and take my own photos of other people (which are certainly less amazing than Molly's) so that I do not have to be in other people's photos.
My older kids take it as a given that I am very rarely photographed and simply accept that there are no physical photos of me. If someone takes a photo and I am in it, it gets ripped up and goes in the garbage. I once threw away DOZENS of photos from one of the kids' baptism because a very kind person did not understand my "rules" about photos and took like a million of me. I tossed the lot and it meant that some beautiful moments are gone because she also gave me the negatives, which also went into the garbage. Another friend once had her daughter take photos and make a DVD of scrolling baptism photos set to music. She was very young and not a very good photographer but loved the craft and was happy to do it. I was very upset because I could not edit the selection of photos but could only share the whole CD, with me in it. You know what happened? No one got a copy of it. I snapped it and tossed it. I am not sure my husband even saw it once. I even deleted almost all of the photos of me with my father and my ten day old youngest child because I thought I looked bad in them. The gravity of it might not register with you because you might not know that my father was in the final stages of his battle with cancer.
Stupid, I know. Believe me, I know. I regret it profoundly. Sometimes I cry over it but again, I never feel badly enough that I keep the photos of me. Every once in while, I will take a photo to prove that I can but it literally shakes me which is also stupid. Notice that I am writing a whole post about how I hate photos and I should be in them but I used a photo of one of my kids? I did not even put a photo of me in it. I can't bring myself to do it.
My husband occasionally gets cranky about it all, the older kids just let it go and never say anything because this is their normal, but my youngest notices. She was sitting in my lap while I edited photos and she noticed that we have none of me on this computer. Well, there is one and only one. It is the one I use on my blog. That's it. She asked to take a photo of me and I let her and I promised myself I would delete it later. I probably will even though I know I shouldn't. Then today, a lovely woman whom I follow on Instagram (follow me HERE but you won't see photos of me) posted a photo of herself in her farm kitchen. It was taken by her child who wanted to take a photo of her. It isn't perfect. She isn't dressed up. But she is in the moment. I can't do that. I am not that brave. I am just a little too broken. I know I should, though, and knowing is half the battle. Knowing doesn't mean there are photos for my children so it is probably less than half of the battle.
My resolution for this year was to have one photo a month of me with the kids. Just one. Know how many there are? One. That's it. I took a selfie with Claudia sleeping on my chest, I had my photos taken for my publisher and then there are two little iPhone shots that Claudia took yesterday and which I will probably delete. That's it in ten months. I've had this resolution for years and there is an average of one single photo a year and none are printed which means my children who are not teens have probably never seen them because they are on Facebook. How sad is that?
I am not sure where I am going with this or how to wrap up this post because in the end I've had no epiphany and I have no photos. I have nothing to give my kids and no intention of actually taking any photos. I want to but I want more to not take them. So I won't. It's wrong and it's sad and I know it. But I also know that in a few days I will be done feeling badly about for a while and I'll just go back to normal. Well, my normal.