Thursday, December 19, 2013

Self Portrait as Mother

When I looked at this candid shot, the seventeenth in line during our second attempt at a family picture, clinging to dear hope that we might just be able to get something, anything, nice enough to send with our Christmas card, it struck me: Self Portrait. Mother of Four.

So many boys.  Surrounded by action.  Slinging a baby.  Body aligned with the trunk of a tree, arms outstretched and mirroring its many limbs, showing me to myself, seeing the multitude of "what I do", weighty and important, often mundane, but always there, needing to be done.

But of course, it wasn't that at all.  Self portraits?  Who has time for that?  The camera was on a tripod after taking sixteen pictures together in the freezing cold, as our previous attempt had flopped hard (with someone looking doofy in every. last. picture).  Seventeen pictures and oh, the irony . . . we ended up deciding on the very first shot.  And actually, I should define things even further: I decided on it, as Blaine was ready to go with whatever ring-a-ling-a-ding-dong picture we had.  I am the family archivist, not him.

So what it really was is this: in the 10 seconds after hitting the auto-timer, I knew we had all had it and stood in front, giggling, as some kind of shield, while Blaine started walking toward his skis and the boys dashed after him.  No "deep thoughts" or purposeful intent whatsoever.

Nevertheless, it gave me pause for a few moments for self-reflection.  And perhaps that is what candids are best at: showing us to ourselves.