Like most moms, I don't love having my picture taken and when my Wee Ones were wee I avoided the front side of the camera at all costs. I wasn't happy with my post-baby body. I rarely had time to do my hair or make-up and most of my clothes were far from trendy and barely clean. In those Survival Years, I hated seeing myself in pictures mostly because I didn't recognize myself and I was uncomfortable and slightly ashamed of the person I had become.
And then cancer showed up.
In November 2011 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 35. My kids were 11, 9 and 7 years old. We are all too young for this. Too young for cancer. Too young to confront my mortality but here it was and here we were.
The tumour was huge and growing fast. The word the doctor used was 'aggressive.' My life was being threatened from within and yet the only thing I could think about was how I had cancer and how cancer kills people and how there were no pictures of me. I had gone more than a decade doing everything I could to avoid the camera. There were almost no pictures of me with my kids, with Mr. Awesome, with my friends at this point. There was virtually no record of me actually participating in my own life. My vanity had kept me from capturing my joy, my love, my crazy on film and now it might all disappear.
My surgery was scheduled for December 19 so I planned a family photo shoot for the week before. We were oh-so-broke so I asked my mom to come with us on a drive through the city so she could help take pictures. I captured some incredibly precious moments of my kids interacting with each other because I love taking these kinds of pictures but I made sure to turn the camera over to my mom so I could be in the frame, too. The result was dozens of pictures of my family with me! They turned out beautiful! And surprisingly, I had fun in front of the camera. I loved showing my love in such a simple yet meaningful way. And the kids had fun seeing me having fun and being free.
Cancer died and I didn't. I lived - am living - and now I am intentional about capturing my life with me in it. There are pictures of me with my kids, my man and my friends. I don't only take the pictures but I post them, print them, frame them and celebrate them. I take goofy selfies with Crafty and cuddly close ups with Joyboy and I even force Dude to pose with me as often as I can. I take pictures of me and Mr. Awesome for no reason and for every reason. I get my friends in the frame, too. I smile, try to hide a few of my chins and hug tight the ones I love … including me.
I have really nice eyes. I like my smile and my freckles have been my loyal companions for nearly four decades. I think its funny that my eyes nearly disappear when I laugh because of my ample cheeks. I like that I am tall enough to wear long tunics and sweaters but not too tall to feel good in heels. I like me. I like to see me with the people I love. I love that I get to live this one life the way I do with the people I do. I love that there are pictures to remind me, and to inform my children and future grandchildren, that I have a great life.
Lovelies, especially you moms of tinies, step into the frame. Cuddle up with your loves and snap a picture of two. Force your pals to join you in front of the camera. Snap some random pics of yourself with your folks. Leave a photo footprint of this life you love. Forget about your cow-licked hair, your half finished make-up and your 'extra padding' - just be bold, be lovely, be you and snap a picture or two this Christmas. And then share those pics! Use the hashtage #SRMIntheFrame to share your pics on social media with our blog-reading Lovelies.