This weeks prompt is by far the hardest. Motherhood. How on earth to sum it up in one photograph?
How do I capture the painful stab of joy I feel as I watch my children just simply being? The searing pain when I see them wounded and bewildered? The unstoppable force of laughter when they’re funny? The smooth silky contentment as I watch them sleep? The wobbly fear mixed with tall strong pride as I watch them grow?
So many pictures I could have chosen. Being married to a photographer who does the ‘proper’ stuff, I’m the one with a camera in her pocket, recording the minutiae which makes up the very thread of our lives. I looked in my iPhoto – want to know what it told me? I have 28,522 photos.
You want me to choose just ONE? Every single one of those images is ‘motherhood’. No.1 was born in 1999, but we didn’t get a digital camera until 2002. And pretty well all those have been taken, by me, of the children and family and ordinary everyday stuff.
So, my entry for this weeks gallery really should be just this:
The story of my Motherhood is there in all those 849 events, 28,522 images sealed in my brain, and 607 movies (usually slow motion, with soaring backing music, naturally). Only that would be a bit pants at the CyberMummy gallery wouldn’t it?
So I tried again.
And then there’s these . The only time we seem to get all four in a picture is when they’re posing and/or being goofy. But this was supposed to be an image of No.1 holding pink – such was the competition for proximity to the new pink one that you never seemed to catch just one with her in those days.
Of course the most obvious one would be a newborn baby moment. I have a few of those too. Sadly all No.1’s new baby pics are carefully preserved in an album in the loft. But thankfully I was far more slack with subsequent babies, and they’re still languishing on the hard drive – each telling the story of the hours before…
Then there’s Jolly, at 10 minutes old. A stressful few days (again!) finally led up to an induction and a drug free labour. I was high on the euphoria of him arriving safely, and of having such a fantastic labour. I had had no idea he had the cord around his neck throughout labour, and his heart rate had been scaring the pants off C and the midwife. And I seriously had NO IDEA at the time that he was so blue (he was pretty & pink by the next day, honest!).
Then of course there was Baby Plums Grand Entrance – the day we finally got a pink one. This is her at about 30 minutes old, us on the trolley being wheeled back from theatre. After her enormous drama queen song-and-dance 7-day entrance, I was just so overjoyed to simply hold her. And to be honest, have her on the outside where I could keep an eye on this pain in the arse pink thing.
But, you see what I did there? All those pictures are about THAT child. My stories attached to their individual personalities, my memories surrounding each precious moment are bound up in the time and the place and the people. Yes, of course they all add up to a sum of my motherhood – but I’m a mother to four, and not one of these births tell THAT story.
So, I kept on digging, and finally found one. It’s not the greatest, prettiest or nicest image I have. But each time I look it makes me smile.
I’m in the hospital, around 4 hours after Bear was born. I have barely eaten for 48hrs, am growling with hunger and my dinner has just arrived. I have a 4 hour old precious beautiful adorable baby girl who I just want to hold and watch. I have a scar across my middle which sets my entire core on fire when I move an inch. I am exhausted and need sleep even more than I need food.
But what am I doing?
I’m on the phone to my sons, saying goodnight, listening to what Gangy cooked them for tea (I even remember what – fish fingers & chips and apple crumble), and hearing the story of how Boy was awarded an Achievers certificate at school today (three versions of the same story of course).
And that, right there, is the story of my motherhood.