Pictures and Words

On this day of the year, nine years ago, I sat at our family computer and stared at a blank page for a good long time, then looked up at Ken and said "What now?" 

"Blog" he said. "Just start. See what happens." I did. I wrote my first blog entry. It took hours. I had trouble putting a picture in, and I needed a lot of help. Ken had set this blog up as a present for me, and although there are a multitude of reasons why Ken is a fine and fabulous friend, he deserves to be sainted for what he did to make the blog go over the rather sharp curve of my learning over the next few months years.

I had no idea what I was doing, and I don’t just mean the computer part. Back then, everyone was a blogger.  I wanted a blog so that I could be part of the huge knit-blogging community – man, it looked like so much fun.  I was right about that. It is fun – but it has turned out to be so much more.  It has been the gateway to all of you, and the amazing impact you’ve had on my life. It’s made me a better writer, and definitely a better photographer. (I cringe at those early pictures.) It has brought no end of incredible people and experiences into my life and my career, and I honestly can’t imagine not doing it – and what, and who my life would be missing if I hadn’t ever done it at all. It has been a remarkable trip, and remains the best gift anyone has ever given me. Beyond all that, and that is so much, it is more.

Some families have photo albums. We do too – and framed pictures of us on the walls. The girls at different ages, Hank as a tiny baby.  Our parents, our siblings, trips.  The one thing missing is pictures of me. There are so few, compared to the millions I take of everyone else.  I’ve started trying to fix it over the last few years. Handing over the camera to other people in the family, asking them to try and get me in a picture or two, or trying to buck the urge to shimmy out of every picture the minute the camera comes out.  I hate it.  I hate how I look and the strange way my nose is, and my glasses, and I’m heavier than I wish I was and I always look so clumsy and awkward to myself.  It’s like when you hear your own voice recorded, and it’s always strange? Everyone thinks "I sound like that? That’s what you’re all hearing?"  I’m forever seeing pictures of myself and thinking "I look like that? I am walking around and that’s how I look?" It’s enough to make you avoid it forever, but the truth is that when I flip through those albums, it is like the children have a ghost mother.  Especially when they were little. There are so many pictures of them, hundreds of Erin and Hank, and me? I’m the nowhere mum. 

I’m not comfortable with this. I’m not comfortable with my absence in those pictures, and I’m not comfortable with being in the pictures either, but I am trying, because while I am never, ever going to wish there were more pictures of me… I bet my grandchildren or great-grandchildren will.  I love the pictures I have of my Grammy.  I miss her, and I wish I had more. It helps me remember the smell of her and the sound of her and what she thought and did.  It helps me hold onto who she was, even though she has been gone for so long.

I realized this morning though, as I celebrated nine years of blogging by flipping through my own archives, that I am not the Nowhere Mum. 

I am here.   I wrote it all down, and so many of our family stories are here, and when my daughters or granddaughters want to think about who I was and try to remember how I smelled or what I thought about them, or what I thought about when they were growing up, they won’t have just a few pictures of their awkward and clumsy mum.

They will have this.

Happy Anniversary Blog. Thanks for nine years. I wouldn’t have written it without all of you here to read it.

Thank you.  For everything.