Monday, June 11, 2012

Put the Camera Down and Look At Me

Ever is seventeen months old and I am obsessed with her. I am not as much an infant mommy as  I am a toddler mommy- my love and adoration turns into full blown goo goo ga ga ridiculous, dopey, stars over my head love. Everything she does or is charms and delights me. Her belly button smells wonderful, like a cookie, her earwax ( waxsacks as Lola calls it, which makes me laugh every time. say it out loud. you'll see. ), the bottoms of her stinky feet. Her expressions strike me as particularly and UNUSUALLY charming, impish, intelligent, delightful. I'm in love, and it's just as disgusting and ridiculous and irrational as romantic love- maybe even more, because adult partners don't throw tantrums in the grocery store over being unable to once again, chew straight through the plastic bag AND the avocados. Or if they do, that's over pretty quick. I hope. 

Whatever it is she is doing, I want to document it. Ever look over here, I squeal at her while she's pulling off the petals of a flower. Ever look at mommmyyyy! I cajole while she kisses the dog on his big wet stinky nose. Ever see me? See me? See me? I repeat like a crazy ape, jumping up and down waggling my arms in an attempt to crack a smile out of my daughter, who is minding her own business concentrating on her puzzle. She looks up at me slightly irritated and wary. I think it's SO CUTE and have to immediately get a photo!!!

After the third time my entire group of children had left a room, disgusted with my photographic insistence and hauling the baby on their shoulders, I slowly began to accept that I had a serious problem. Like most writers I've always documented life in my mind as it went along, and having children has taken a natural inclination and turned it into something else- a fixation.

So much of my adult life has been about erecting barriers between myself and the people or experiences I love, and then working my ass off to dismantle those barriers once I realize what I'm doing. Photographing my children became one of those barriers. Instead of sitting on the hot concrete, feeling the sticky pull of dried soda on my arm, hearing the dog two doors over bark his deep, throaty complaint, and watching my baby girl explore each grass blade with the meticulous, absorbed intention of a neurosurgeon, I placed a camera in between myself and my consciousness, and let the camera be the focus. clickclickclick A photo can be a beautiful window into an experience you want to remember, and it can also be a momento of an experience you barely remember because you were so busy documenting. Instead of being a memory keeper at all times, I want to simply be Ever's mommy. 

(and get some good photos, sometimes.)
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