Portrait of a Mother
We all have a one: a photo of ourselves that we don’t recognize; a picture of the stranger within us. Common photographs of this variety are the decade-old photos of women much younger than ourselves, unflattering pictures highlighting previously unknown flaws, or those portraying weight we hadn’t realized we gained.
Believe me; I am in these photos, and show up in increasingly more each year. Worse even, than the photos capturing physical ugliness and aging, are those detailing ugly emotions. These are the pictures you didn’t know were taken while sitting through a child’s soccer practice, “God, I hope he didn’t notice me looking that bored,” or a photo snapped at a party while you quietly argue with your husband, “I thought we were being discreet!”
Yes, sometimes a camera can capture our emotions, our souls. Really, the lens of a camera simply frames what you are giving the person behind it. It allows you to see a bit of the person that the photographer sees in you. This can be a curse; this can be a gift.
Throughout pregnancy, I suffered from almost every symptom possible. Nausea, heartburn, excessive weight gain, pregnancy acne, stretch marks, greasy hair, nosebleeds, anxiety, depression – you name it, I had it. I could not have felt worse about myself. I refused to let ANYONE take a picture of me (save a few wedding portraits). Even when offered a free, professional maternity shoot, I adamantly refused. How I wish now that I hadn’t!
It happened a week before I gave birth. As I was putting the final touches on our nursery, my husband called my name. Turning to face him, I was greeted with a flash. I was embarrassed as soon as I saw the camera; I smiled sheepishly and then shot daggers once it was put down (I figured the only thing worse on film than an ugly pregnant woman was an angry, ugly pregnant one!) I begged him to erase the photo, refusing to view it no matter how emphatically he promised it was “a good one.”
I was amazed. The girl in the picture was excited, prepared; tired, but happy! She’s beautiful, serene. In that tiny moment, my husband froze an image of the calm, assured girl that he sees in me. Looking at that photo, I decided to rise to that perception. If the girl in the photo was ready to go on this journey called Motherhood, then so was I.
This photo resides in my daughter’s room now, and every so often, I’ll notice it between the stuffed animals, toys, and bits and pieces that collect on her dresser. It makes me smile; it brings tears to my eyes. The funny thing is, although I didn’t recognize the mother in the photo two and a half years ago, she looks remarkably familiar now. She is me, and I, finally, am her.
Katie Bickell lives in Sherwood Park Alberta with her firefighting husband Freddy, their gorgeous daughter Cailena, and a mischievous Beagle named Tweak. The Bickell Family is also excitedly awaiting the arrival of their second child in October 2011. Katie is a full time mom, owns and operates an acredited family day home, and writes as often as she can. Katie enjoys reading, hot yoga, baking, gardening, good food, great friends, and, when not expecting, the occasional glass of vino. You can learn more about Katie on her blog, Young Mum, at http://youngmum-katiemul.blogspot.com