UPDATED. Scroll to the bottom of the post.
I had kind of a weird experience this week (I actually had quite a few weird experiences this week, but I’m only writing about this one).
Last week I held my breath and had a conversation with Alethea Cheng Fitzpatrick of Photosanity, who coaches parents taking pictures of their kids. I held my breath because pictures of my kids are a huge pain spot for me. I can never keep track of a camera, and I don’t know how to take good pictures, and I just don’t remember to even want to take pictures. And that causes an enormous amount of guilt for me. I feel like I should be taking pictures more, and should have this amazing record of my kids’ lives.
Plus, and I wouldn’t have admitted this before, it makes me feel inadequate that my ex-husband* takes pictures all the time, and he takes great pictures all the time, of the kids. I am jealous that he has all these pictures of the kids and I don’t, and that he thinks in terms of taking pictures.
So I came into the conversation with Alethea with some dread, but she zeroed exactly in on my fears and quietly asked me a couple of questions that stood things on their head and reframed everything for me. And I let go. Of the guilt, and the idea that I can’t take pictures, AND of the the idea that I need to take pictures or I’m not doing my job.
I felt fantastic. And like maybe thinking about buying another camera and trying it again.
The real test, though, was when I decided to order Christmas cards this week. (Yes, I’m one of those people who sends a photo card plus one of those long dopey letters.) Years ago I vowed to always include myself in the picture on the card so my friends could see how I was aging. So I needed a picture of me with the kids, and couldn’t take it myself.
I asked my ex-husband to take it.
He was coming over to take the kids one afternoon anyway, and the three of us sat on my front porch, and Doug shot some shots with his phone, and the first one was perfect. And I thanked him and he said I was welcome and he sent me the photo and now I have this great shot of me with my kids.
A little clarity and self-forgiveness is a beautiful thing.
This has also inspired me to take next Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) to bond with my mom and take some pictures with her. It’s been awhile since we’ve both been in the same shot. Instead of bonding by getting up at 5 and fighting the masses to buy “doorbusters,” we’ll have more fun getting my dad (who used to be a serious photographer) to take some shots of us together.
Photos and you. How do they go together?
* Here is my ex-husband’s blog, for those of you who don’t know him, but I put it down here instead of up there because it’s Movember and he has a picture of his truly unfortunate facial hair right at the top of the page so I feel I need to warn you that it’s NSFMDE (not safe for my delicate eyeballs) but if you need to click don’t say I didn’t warn you: LaidOffDad.org
UPDATE: By popular demand, here’s the picture Doug took, except I cropped out the kids because I don’t put pictures of them on the internet. So it’s just me. But you can see my little one’s fingers: