I wrote a completely different post for today, and agonized over the wisdom of sharing its contents. It wasn’t very positive; it clearly came from the deepest place of my frustration and dismay over how mothers get treated by the world, including often by the people closest to us. It’s at times like these that I realize how much work I still have to do in order to leave my recent pain behind me. “They” say that if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, but really if other people are unhappy somehow it all ends up being mama’s fault. Round and round we go.
I made a completely different set of photographs to accompany those other words. The roll of film was almost entirely a failure, mostly because I used the wrong camera for what I had hoped to achieve. That failure made me step back and rethink things. I don’t really like mother’s day, not as a mom; I adore the day as a daughter, and I recognize how much it means to my own mother as well as my own daughter. When I get down to the nitty gritty of why I dislike the day, I feel ashamed.
So what do I like? Being a mother. Of all the vocations I have tried on for size, this one is by far the best, and the hardest, because it engages my entire being and is constantly throwing me curve balls. What began almost 12 years ago as a crazy intense wild fun ride has blossomed into a new dynamic: a young woman coming into her own, finding herself, dealing with her own sets of challenges, navigating life. Our relationship has changed drastically lately, and I find myself with almost as much growing and adjusting to do as she has. 42 years old and trying to figure out a new direction for my life now that most of the time I am about as useful as an old sock.
So I made a new set of photographs, with the “right” camera this time. I made them as I sought to figure out my feelings about the here & now as I experience it. I want to honor my own mother, my grandmothers, all the women whose blood I share who have come before me, I want to honor the potential of motherhood in my own daughter. I want to honor all the women I know who are mothers, and all the mothers I don’t know. We all share a similar journey.
We do what we do out of love. We store up treasures in our hearts, and regularly take hits that break them in two; we bind them back up with hope, and we wait.
I read very recently about how the woman who pushed for Mother’s Day to be an official holiday ended up regretting what it became. To borrow from the email where I read this: “She was successful in her campaign, but in 1923 she filed a lawsuit trying to stop a Mother's Day festival, arguing that she ‘wanted a day of sentiment, not of profit.’” Surely there’s enough pressure surrounding our daily lives without having every shop, radio ad, and TV commercial make you feel like you’re supposed to be doing a lot of getting. I don’t see motherhood as being about what you get; surely it should be more about what you give. I get to be a mom, and (for now) to be with my child on that day; surely that is enough!
I’m looking forward to seeing my own mom this weekend.
I hope I - we, because her granddaughter is part of this chain too - get to honor her in person for many, many years to come. I hope every mother who reads this knows her value. The world might not acknowledge it much, but those of us who share the road with you lift you up.
All photographs except the last one, Ondu 6x6 camera and Kodak Tri-X . That last one is Hasselblad 500CM