strong families have someone missing from the picture
We don’t have a lot of family photos in my house these days.
I know, it’s bad.
It’s bad because my son is 14 months old, toddling himself around everywhere, talking, laughing, playing, exploring and making life equally chaotic and equally joyful. I should be snapping every precious memory of it and framing those memories for all to see.
The problem is that I do snap a lot of pictures. But they’re mostly just of him. Or me and him. Or his toes next to my toes. Or a blurry poorly attempted “selfie” (dear Lord, who coined that term?) of the two of us laughing into the shaking camera of my iPhone.
Or we have other pictures.
Pictures of my son and my husband. The two of them. Throwing rocks. Pointing at planes. The backs of their heads or a side-view profile that I hastily tried to capture while some sacred father-son moment passed between the two of them.
We have almost no pictures of the 3 of us.
I guess that’s because it is just the 3 of us.
I used to romanticize the fact that I moved away from home. I built up images of myself in my head, romping around the big city wrapped in Fall scarves, carrying my badge of independence like it was a prize I wanted everyone to know I’d claimed. I did it! I wanted to declare, I moved away. I moved to the other side of the country and stayed there. I didn’t just head East for college: I got a job, got married, rented an apartment and built a life for myself, by myself. Staying out East was the ultimate proof that I was a strong woman, a brave woman, a root-less woman.
But turns out, as the years go by, my romantic idea was just that – a romantic idea. It’s all a farce once you start your own family. Because as the days get lonely and the nights get perpetually longer and all you and your husband want is to drop the baby off with Grandma for a few hours – it gets tough to be the ones who are away. When your kid knows that FaceTime is synonymous with “Nanny”, well, it’s easy to let the nostalgia for home settle into your soul and stay there.
Some days are harder than others. Some days are better than others. But regardless of the ups and downs of each day, there is one good that has come from living away from our families. There is one good that I can claim as ours and be proud of and smile upon.
We are our own family.
We’re it. We’re all we’ve got in the nitty-gritty day-to-day. We are figuring it out – the 3 of us. We have a strength and an intimacy and a joy that exists only within the walls that we’ve labored over ourselves. Our laughter and tears and accidents and upsets are ours and ours alone. The poop-explosion laundry emergencies, date nights set in a living room full of baby toys, afternoons of “will you please take G to the park so I can have a moment to breathe?” crises – they are the mark of a real, living breathing family.
One of us might be always covering for the other. One of us might always be on the outside, taking the picture. But it’s turning out okay. We’ve got the love thing figured out.