For My Mother

I’m the youngest of three girls. My mom is a preschool teacher and my dad is retired military. Every summer when she was off from work, my mom would take up a hobby to bide the time until the school year began again. This past summer her hobby was sorting old negatives and scanning them into the computer to preserve them.

So many embarrassing photos of me when I was young started to show up on Facebook. If I had been a teenager these pictures would have humiliated me, but her devotion to preserving my childhood was touching, even though in most of the photographs of me from age zero to five I am either crying, have just been crying, or am about to cry.

The quality of the photos is grainy and blurry. My mother never was a good photographer and we were never good at sitting still. However, she was always reliable when it came to documenting the date of the event and who was in the photo in her loopy handwriting on the back of each and every photograph.

Every now and then when I visit for Sunday dinner she and my dad argue about the year of so and so’s wedding or birthday party. My mom, to prove she’s right, goes straight to some trusty photo box or album to search through photo after photo to find the right one. Then, she’ll flip the photo over to show my dad the caption that proves she was right and in fact I did celebrate my seventh birthday party at our home in Virginia Beach and received a Tweetie Bird umbrella that I still have to this day.

After I reached a certain age there were less and less pictures to take, less and less “firsts” of which to make a record. More importantly, I was less and less amenable to having my picture taken. Bad haircuts, braces, and terrible fashion choices kept me away from camera lenses. Those preteen and teenage years were abominable; I used to threaten to delete every photo she took of me. Now, you couldn’t keep me away from a camera if you tried.

Sometime in the past few years, I developed my mom’s love of taking pictures of absolutely everything and everyone. I enjoy analog photography most of all, but appreciate the convenience of digital. I’m excessive, obnoxious, burst mode is my favorite setting, and I’m one hundred percent unapologetic about all of these traits. I still don’t like to be in front of the lens, but can relate to my mom now that I’ve developed my own habit of driving people up a wall, and even smile for a few moments before returning to making goofy faces…which she posts anyway.

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