Pictures of You, Pictures of Me

I am doing some writing for my photographer friend, Heather. She asked me to draft an About Me area for her website, something of a pull to lure potential clients for portraits and such. She’s really quite good at what she does. Her pictures are really amazing and her gallery is unique and whimsical. I have to do a good job writing her profile. She pays me in wine so I don’t want to disappoint.

So this morning was my first attempt. I thought it was pretty good. I hope she does, too.

But as soon as I finished, a sad reality came crashing down on my head.

I am a bad mom.

As I wrote about the importance of that perfect portrait, the keepsake value of a picture, it dawned on me that my own kids will have very little in the way of photographic memories. That is unless they want to sit and scroll through the “My Pictures” folder on my laptop.

I mean I do have some pictures. A wall upstairs in the hall has about a dozen or so nicely framed pictures of the kids at various stages of their youth. OK, it was 3 years ago, who am I kidding here.

We have a couple of pictures that adorn our fireplace mantle, too. Sadly the one of my son was when he was 4 and the other of my daughter was when she was one.

I did however print out about 100 pictures of my son when my daughter was born. My plan was to take the down time I had when he was in school and she, being an infant, was napping, and put them into a photo album so he could see his early years.

That plan was thwarted by the fact that she never napped and I was left with a box full of pictures that I had to place up high in a closet so that their chronological order would not be disturbed. It was later disturbed, however, as the box magically came down from the closet shelf and appeared on the floor where busy little hands handled each one and made complete chaos out of my meticulously planned project. Oh well, at least my son got to see himself in pictures.

Finally when my girl was about to turn 4, I planted myself on the couch while the kids watched a movie and I put the pictures of my son into his album. Very pleased to have finished, I started flipping through. My daughter came over to snuggle and see the result and asked the painful question: “Where are my pictures Mommy?” Ouch.

My friend, a part-time Creative Memories rep who has literally every moment of her children’s lives captured in scrapbooks, gave me a whole lot of grief about the fact that I was not utilizing this service she was offering me. I was in awe at all she’d done to guard those precious moments so she would have them forever. Feeling guilty, I gathered every digital picture of my daughter that I had, downloaded the Creative Memories program and began to make a digital book.

I am going to this! I told her. And, feeling very positive that it was not indeed a lie, I charged forward.

I used my husband’s laptop because my old dog of a computer would not be able to accommodate the CM program. So I created a book, picked a beautiful pinkish and girlie-themed digital background for each page, and inserted all the pictures into their place. I hit the button to create the book. And waited. And waited. Nothing happened. I tried several times to save my work and start again. To no avail. Error messages, long waits. Ugh. My husband needed his lap top back and at that point I was willing to give it back lest I thrust it across the room. So that was that. I am just not that tech savvy. CM is an easy program. It had to be me not doing it right.

That was a year ago.

Well I had very high hopes when I got my shiny spanking new ruby-red laptop. My brother-in-law is a tech wizard and helped me transfer what I needed to the new lap top. Thousands of pictures are saved to CDs and on my new computer. They are just begging to be turned into a digital book.

I am not sure what is stopping me. I don’t want my kids to feel like I do. (We writers all have some sort of family baggage we need to thrust upon society. Here’s mine.)

I was the last of four and there are literally no pictures of me. Except that one where I was around 6 months old. The one that my sisters and brother feel the need to make fun of. The one they always showed to new boyfriends. (Mine and theirs.) The one that appeared plastered to the refrigerator door during parties. The one where it is just my big fat bald baby head and my little chubby fists.

The pictures of me, I was told, were “lost in the great flood of ’76” or some year in the 1970s. Mind you, the only lost photos were the ones taken of me. My oldest sister, well there are a ton of them. First born and papa’s pride and all that. My second oldest sister, yeah she has some, too. Even my brother, my Irish-twin brother, born 11 days less than a year before me,  has baby pictures.

My husband proudly displays one of his family portraits taken in the height of the 70s:  long hair, long skirts, lots of plaid and the loudest ties you’ve ever seen. But at least he has this. And lots more too.

My sister in LA yells at me constantly about the fact that I don’t document things. I really can’t argue with that. Even when I pack the digital, and even take some pictures, they end up staying on the memory card in the camera for too long. Then one of the kids will pick it up, start snapping away at their feet, stuffed animals or their favorite show on the TV screen. So when I do download the pictures, I end up deleting most of them.

Sadly, my kids have squat in the way of displayed documentation of their childhood. I am going to change that. TODAY! I promise.

I really do know how much pictures mean. Each time I visit my childhood home, even though I am not in any of them, I still love looking at those pictures. Crazy hair dos, (and many don’ts), former pets, youthful parents. I break out the wedding pictures (proof binders not even an album) and relive that great day. Even I scroll through My Pictures folder. A lot.

 As my friend Heather aptly explained about the pull of a picture — they are rife with emotion, feeling, memories.

Life would be so plain without them.

OK. Upward and onward and into the digital booking I must go. I will do a digital book for each kid. I’ll give it to them as Easter presents. Or maybe the 4th of July. Labor Day? Soon. I promise.

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