This is a picture of my mom. I lost her to Ovarian Cancer on October 19th when I was only 5 years old. She was only 37. I have spent the greater portion of my life trying to force every part of me to not lose my memories of her. Her voice, her hair, her contagious laugh, and her fierce love for me and my sister. Because I was so young, my memories are limited. Sometimes I don’t know if what I remember is real or something I created based on what others told me or just being a child with an imagination.
I rely so much on pictures of her to help keep her with me. But, unfortunately, I have only a handful of pictures of her. Most are posed, and only a few are really candid. I treasure these pictures to the point that if my house were to catch on fire, it is the one thing (aside from my family) that I would try to take with me. I am now 32, and have a two-year-old son of my own. I find myself exceedingly more anxious the closer I get to 37. Anxious that I might meet the same fate, leaving my child the same way I was left. Anxious that I may actually outlive my mother — a thought that makes me feel physically ill. And anxious that I haven’t done enough to ensure my child will remember me.
You see, if my husband were to die today, I would have hundreds of pictures and videos to show my son of the two of them. Physical and tangible proof of how much he loved him. Mementos he could hold onto. If I were to die today, my son would mostly have a collection of selfies, some of just me, some of him and me or of my husband and me. You won’t find hardly any candid photos, or any videos of me. As far as my child is concerned, I’ll look like a woman who used a lot of Instagram filters who didn’t actually devote every single day to caring for him. Because if I were to die today, he wouldn’t remember how many times we went to the park or all the things I did to give him new experiences and learn. He won’t remember any of it. He’s simply too young.
Why do I tell you all of this? Because I want you to demand that you are seen. I want you to get in front of the camera. Even if you are on day three of dry shampoo or if you don’t love the way your body looks now. If you were to die today, your child will not care about any of that. They just want to see you as they remember you. Not as the overly filtered woman you post on social media. They want to see you the way they knew you. There is nothing wrong with posed selfies. I just ask that you give your child more to remember you by.
My very favorite picture of my mom isn’t the one of her on her wedding day. It’s a picture where she is sitting on the floor painting a chair. You know why? Because I make the same expression when I’m really intently focused on something as well. When I look at that picture, I get a glimpse of her personality. I stare at it trying to will my brain to remember something, anything, about the person she was.
We live in an era of amazing technology. Everything is at our fingertips. More than likely you are reading this from your smart phone. It’s incredible, isn’t it? I challenge you mommas, try once a week (or more!) to have someone take your picture. Have them take one of you in the floor with your babies or while you are at the park. And I cannot stress this enough, do not delete it because you don’t think it’s cute enough. You are your own worst critic. They don’t all have to be social media worthy. But I cannot tell you how much your children will appreciate it. One day, it is all they will have left. Make sure they have enough to really remember you and how much you loved them.