It’s my youngest daughter’s birthday today. Emma is 17. Unlike her sister who arrived 3 months early, Emma was late. And a whole lot bigger. For all you pregnant ladies out there for the first time, trust me when I tell you that there is a huge difference between 2 pounds and 8. If your child is anywhere over two pounds when you go into labor, take the pain medicine. All of it. I mistakenly thought all childbirth was the same. I remembered how the contractions felt (horrible, but survivable) and figured that I wouldn’t need an epidural. I didn’t have one with Brianna, so I needed nothing the second time. Silly, unsuspecting me. Once I realized my mistake and told the nurse I had changed my mind and would like that epidural after all, please. She said, “Oh honey, it’s too late.” Yup, Emma about killed me. Or at least that’s how it felt at the time. Child birth is kind of like when you’re at the top of the highest peak on a roller coaster ride and you look down knowing it’s going to make you sick so you start to panic and you think to yourself I want off! I want off! but that’s impossible. You must endure it til it stops. Only afterwards when you’re walking away all jelly-legged and laughing with relief do you realize it wasn’t so bad. And now I have this grown up version of my baby girl. All sassy and sarcastic like me. But super smart and beautiful and kind-hearted. With easy laughter and spontaneous hugs. Strong spirited, stubborn, accepting. I’m so lucky to have her in my life and today I’m thankful to be her mom.
I am not a great picture taking person. I never have been. I’m the type who shows up at special events and thinks, oh, crap! I should have brought my camera! There have been countless functions over the years–school plays, musicals, sporting events–where I sat watching all the other parents vying for the good camera shots while I sat empty handed, expecting someone to come take my mom card away from me. (Although driving a mini-van probably ensures that can’t happen.) I’m not sure why taking pictures has never been a priority. I actually really love good photos. Maybe I’m just lazy. Even now I rarely remember to take photos with my phone camera when I should. But I’ve also never been the type to fill my home with family photos either. In my house now, I have only four framed photos: one of my kids from a couple years ago, a small one of me and my sisters when we were kids, a rather large black and white of my great-grandfather holding a cigarette (it’s just really cool), and one of me that was taken by a photographer friend who won a national award with the print. (You can’t really tell it’s me, so I don’t feel too vain with having it up.) Although I usually have a couple pictures on my fridge. Right now there’s one of my parents and one of my mom and sisters.
So I got to thinking a few months ago that I should have good pictures taken of me and my kids before they move out. I hired an artist friend who recently got into photography, someone I have known for years. She is super creative, and I knew she would find an unusual backdrop and some non-standard poses for us. We ended up going to another artist’s studio. He works with found/industrial elements and had several areas for us to use. We brought a change of clothes and spent a couple of hours feeling like models and having a blast. In one series of shots, the three of us sat in rubber chairs that had come out of a mental institution (I wanted one). In another we sat on a workbench in formal gowns. In yet another we stood in front of shelves of found junk, posing with pieces that seemed meaningful to us. When I finally got the proofs back, it took me forever to narrow down the ones I wanted to buy. If money were no object, I would have gotten them all. My daughters are beautiful and so photogenic. However, there was one particular picture that all three of us immediately chose as our favorite. The irony of it is that we weren’t posing in it at all. We are laughing together, a moment in-between the poses that the photographer simply captured with us unaware. It’s the perfect embodiment of my relationship with my kids…such joy. It was the first print I decided to order for the wall–in a large canvas. It arrived this weekend. I’m so thankful I decided to have the photo shoot and can’t wait to add this picture to the wall.
I was given this picture today as a suggestion for a post. It made me laugh. Obviously the person who gave it to me knows about my addiction to The Walking Dead. But I also like that people are reading what I write and thinking about it. I started this blog for myself and my own need to look for the good around me, but if it helps others do the same, even in silly ways, I’m cool with that. More than cool. I love it.
This photo does remind me that there is almost always a different take on every problem. It also reminds me that humor is essential to getting through difficulties. At least it is for me. I’ve written about the zombie apocolypse before in reference to the tv show. The ways the characters learn to adapt and survive are so interesting to me. But I’m fascinated with people that way in general. When I come across someone whose first instinct is to give up, it makes me wonder what he or she went through to get to the point where it’s easier to be stuck than to fight. Of course, fighting takes energy and the belief that there’s something valuable at the end of the struggle. And maybe not everyone has that innate instinct to survive like I do. But I think it can be cultivated. One way is intentionally looking for the positive side of things. Or if there really isn’t a postive, then learning to let it go. And I don’t say this lightly, from a life of hearts and roses. If you’ve read a few of my previous posts, you’ll know that I’ve been through some tough times. I’ve had moments where I have doubted my endurance and had to spend time wailing out my misery. And letting things go…oh boy. It’s been a very conscious effort on my part to learn that skill. I’m anxious by nature. And much too introspective to want to just let things go. My favorite questions always begin with why? But I’m getting better about not needing to know all the answers. Sometimes the answer is simply because not everyone thinks like you do. Most of the time, I’d say be thankful you don’t think like me. It’s exhausting. But when it comes to being optimistic, I wish more people would share my thoughts on that. Not losing hope. Not giving up. Believing something better could be just around the corner is what keeps me going a little longer when the fight is hardest. What would you do? Would you run screaming for your life or grab a mallet and help me whack?