There are startlingly few pictures of me from this past year. I realized this while publishing my piece “Reinhabiting Life” —I wanted to include a picture of me as I am now—a happy and healthy individual. And I couldn’t find any.
I found some older pictures of me looking tousled and happy when Oscar was a newborn, with eyes only for him. I found a couple that were more recent—a few months ago—where you can see circles under my eyes, lank hair, paler-than-usual skin. I look tired, even haggard in some. I’m smiling, yes, but there’s a definite “but” to the expression, as in, “I’m happy, but…”
Even these few that I found were just that: few. Most of my pictures are of Oscar, Damon, the dogs, or any combination of the aforementioned. Realizing this, I started to feel self-conscious. I remember reading one of those neurosis-inducing articles a while back on how new mothers lose their individual identity in motherhood, projecting all of their personal needs and fulfillment onto their children, and that this “fact” is supported by the evidence that suddenly their Facebook profile pictures are no longer of themselves but of their babies.
There is small amount of truth somewhere in that jumble—there is a period during which a mother (and a father, too, I’m willing to bet) has to adapt to her new role, and it takes a while to figure out how to balance and reconcile that role with being an individual. But it’s just that—a phase—and even though it seems interminable at the time, it really doesn’t last all that long.
Yeah, well, easy for me to say now, after the fact.
So I’m giving my neurotic, self-conscious reflex a good, solid throttling, and I’d like to propose an alternate theory. First, I don’t have time to pose and/or take lots of pictures of myself. Second, even though I’m feeling far more beautiful and happy and fulfilled these days, I still rarely find that my reflection in the mirror is nearly as comely or well-coiffed as the version of me I see in my own happy head. Third, of course all the pictures I take are of Oscar and Damon because a.) they’re super cute! and b.) I’m the one holding the camera. Dur. Damon takes pictures sometimes, but both of us generally have our hands a bit too full to handle a camera. We’re too busy, you know, being parents. Or being present.
However, in the interest of preserving this pretty amazing/crazy/tumultuous/hilarious time in our life, I will see if I can’t get Damon to get a picture of two in which I look both presentable and happy. As my pal Jenn is wont to say, “Pictures or it didn’t happen.”