Welcome to my digital writing journal, or mydigitalclutter. What started as a family blog almost two years ago has morphed into my writing therapy. This is where I do a lot of free writing, mostly about my life with my family and the things that catch my interest. While nowhere even close to perfect, in each post I like to see how my writing is changing with time and practice. Most posts are left unedited for this reason, so if you don't mind, take the journey with me.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Umm, Where's Mom?

Me hanging onto Abbie and Nigel-Valley of Fire 2008
The other day I saw a post on Facebook, with a link to a blog, that got me thinking, and almost has put me into a stupor. It has been on my mind, and I’m almost obsessed with the idea, so much so, that it has caused sleepless nights, and worry. Do I have any proof that I was here?

I’ve been obsessed with writing, or the idea of writing for a very long time. Someday, I want a book with my name stated clearly as the author, proof that I was here, but I’m writing about something entirely different today. I want to leave proof in other ways; ways that my children will cherish in the years to come.

I have a couple of things that sit in my chest of treasures, items that are valuable to me, but have little worth in the eyes of the world. I have a letter, written by my grandfather, in his own spidery handwriting, giving me love and advice when I was far from home. Written before the days of quick e-mail or the ease of texting, it is a letter on lined paper, black ink marching across the page. It is treasured for the fact it was something he wrote, his hand touched the page, his thoughts strung together in words for me to read half way across the world. He could have typed it, which would have been easier for him, and his arthritic fingers, but he wrote it out and so I treasure it even more. I also have a picture of him, in his early days of teaching in the 1940’s. He is young, smooth skinned, and I adore it. The picture has fused to the glass of the frame, where it has been housed for more years than I can remember and regardless of the condition, it is a prized possession. This is physical evidence that he was here. He was part of my life. He has been gone for 15 years now, and I am so glad I have these few mementos to hang on to. Not all my cousins or siblings have these types of treasures, and that makes me sad. What have they missed?

This takes me back to the proof I want to leave. Are there pictures of me? Do I have notes left to my children and husband, which will stand the test of time, written in my own hand? I’m sure that when I am gone, they will not care if my penmanship is gorgeous and elegant. They won’t care if my hair is a mess, or I am having body image issues. They will want a picture of me, smiling when I’m happy, crying when I’m sad, so they can remember me. They will treasure a letter or a note that has my own writing on it, something personal and far from the clinical sterility of typing it out as I'm want to do.

My Mom-June 2008
I grew up with my mother hiding when the camera came out. She was either behind the camera, or running into the other room. I have very few where she is smiling naturally, because she grew up where smiles in photos were forced. It’s a behavior that I’m sure she learned from her mother, and it has caused me quite a bit of frustration when I think of missed opportunities. One of my favorite pictures I have is one that I caught the day she returned home from her mission and I saw her for the first time in almost two years. She is goofy and laughing, hamming it up for the camera. She isn’t stiff and formal, and this is an actual representation of how I view her. In this digital age, where there is so little cost or effort in taking a picture, why do we all shy away from showing who we really are? Are we so afraid of what we will see of ourselves we would rather not be present?

Looking at my own experience, I am the one, always behind the camera, shooting hundreds of shots of our surroundings, they various expressions of my children, and the important events of our lives. I’ve filled external hard drives with the number of photos I’ve taken in the past couple of years. The problem? I’m in so few of them, I’m not sure that my family could even say I attended any of the events I’ve documented. There is no picture of me with my daughter, laughing at the funny antics at the rodeo, or that I was at the zoo that one time we went with friends. Where am I? Behind the lens, catching it all, but never pausing to say, “Take a picture of me!” How sad to think that I put such a low value of my influence on my children’s lives. Won’t they want to see a picture of me, smiling broadly the day they were born? Even though my eyes are exhausted, my hair a mess, and tears are streaming down my cheeks? It shouldn’t bother me, because I know it won’t bother them.

Does this aversion come from a time when a photograph was an expensive item? Something one dressed up for, and never smiled? Is it because we were frugal in ways to “save money” on the cost of film and developing, where we could have saved somewhere else, and had a payout, something ever so priceless?
Mommy and Nigel
Abbie and Me at Temple Square
To help myself remember, I’ve created a blog, just for me, although you are more than welcome to participate if you so desire, to prove to myself and those that I love, that I was HERE! I want to post pictures of me, with my children, friends, and family. (Still under serious construction!) I want it to be more than the rare Facebook profile shot, taken with my computer camera. I want it to showcase who I really am. I will survive the embarrassment of bed head for the sake of leaving a physical legacy. Proof I was here.

3 Lovely Scribbles to Me:

2busy said...

Good food for thought. I have often wondered the same things. Will they even remember who I am? I have lots of pics of my kids but rarely any with them. I need to focus on that more...

PS. My mom was the same way, and still is.

Corrina Terry said...

Thank you for this blog post! I think the same way. You inspire me to try and do the same with my photos of me. I want my kids to have proof I was here, not just remember I was behind the camera. Love it!!!

Terresa said...

I like the idea of having proof we were here. Life goes so quickly, taking pics helps immortalize (in a way) each other, ourselves.

PS: I'm doing an Inky Letter Movement over @ my blog this week, and would love to send you a homemade card in the mail. Email me your mailing address when you get the chance!!

PPS: Happy weekend!! (I can't believe school starts in a few more weeks! Where did summer go??)

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