What the stranger saw

I’ve been reading a lot of posts on social media about mums getting ‘in the picture’ and it really resonates with me too. Mothers are lamenting their lack of presence in the snapshots of their family lives. So often it’s the mum who sees the treasure in everyday moments and grabs the camera to capture it, always there in the moment but hidden behind the camera. I’m so in love with sunlight on little eyelashes and candy floss hair, with tiny hands learning to grasp and gummy smiles. I love having my three favourite people in all the world lined up on the sofa together like peas in a pod; Dad, James and Ailish watching ‘Things That Go’ with the same wrapt expression. I want to keep seeing those things forever, so I take photos of them.

Like lots of mothers I feel run down and less-than my best a lot of the time. Not that keen on getting my picture taken on my best days, I’m even more reluctant after a half-arsed sleep and several days without washing my hair. But I do think about how few records we have of the days I’m sharing with my family.

My two kids won’t remember the many hours we’ve sat at the table together, eating food I’ve lovingly prepared, or at least busted out of the packet, for them. My favourite thing is to sit and read with them, one of them on my knee and the other at my elbow. I hope we’ll enjoy reading together well into their childhood. There will come a day when they can, and will want to, read independently. When that day comes, I’ll wish for photos of those special times to reminisce over. They won’t remember the hundreds of neighbourhood walks we’ve been on. Sometimes we pause to look at fish in the inlet, planes going overhead, diggers at a construction site, yesterday a monarch butterfly on a lamp post.

I’ll remember that these walk of ours were a major part of our daily life, but I likely won’t remember a specific walk.

Except this one:

On today’s walk a total stranger pulled her car into a driveway near us and requested I hand over my phone with the camera application open. Bemused, slightly concerned, but feeling that it wasn’t really a yes-or-no request, I handed over my phone. The kind lady hastily explained that she wanted me to see what she saw, snapped a single photo, complimented me on doing a great job and jumped back in her car before I even knew what was happening!

That’s a moment in time I won’t forget, that time a total stranger was brilliant enough to put me “in the picture”.


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