Self Portrait / by Carey

I am fairly certain it was Nancy who first gave me the idea of using my remote to take pictures of ME with the kids.  Over the last year and a half, I've done this several times and have a small collection of these little treasures.  Like I said in my post "I can't afford that", I'm not a spectator.  I'm in the game, and I want some proof of that for THEM.  So thanks, Nancy!!!

Monday morning we visited the pediatric eye doctor with Cora to have her intermittent lazy eye checked.  We got the news that it has worsened and requires intervention.  She'll have to wear glasses that will make her vision worse.... we will hope this strengthens her inner eye muscles before it affects the vision in that eye that so far isn't affected.

Although I can consciously tell myself that this is really NO BIG DEAL, I just felt a huge weight on my heart over it.  We have good close friends whose boys battle Mitochondrial Disease and Juvenile Diabetes.  We have friends from church whose four year old little boy is very sick and waiting for a likely heart transplant and possibly a lung transplant, too.  Another friend from church has a little boy in between Nathan and Cora's age who was just last week diagnosed with Amblyopia.  He was diagnosed as legally blind and has lived his little life to this point barely seeing the world.  My high school best friend Megan's husband lost his leg two months ago in Afghanistan and he is still in the hospital recovering, while their family is separated (Megan who tried to get me to talk to Shawn at 14 years old).  An online friend went into labor early at 21 weeks and gave birth to a beautiful little girl who went straight to heaven.

Strabismus is just nothing in comparison to all of that.  I know that.  And I keep reminding myself of that.  But the day of the diagnosis, I was really just shocked by it all.  Couldn't shake that feeling inside that I can't quite describe.   Glasses, all the time, just wasn't what I was expecting.  As soon as the less than friendly doctor said the words, I knew that we were going to be in for battle over her wearing them... when we've finally entered a stage where the two of us aren't at battle hardly ever anymore and life has just been sweet.  But more than that, this helpless hopeless restless feeling that "something is wrong with my little girl" just pervaded everything that day.

On the way home, we visited Babycakes Cupcakery for the first time, as a treat for having to endure everything she did during the two hour exam.  I promised her a pink cupcake.  Who would have imagined the fancy cupcake shop would not have anything remotely resembling a pink cupcake?  I had hoped it would cheer all our spirits.  It didn't.  I came home and just felt this churning inside.  Motivation deserted.  Focus gone.  Perspective changed. I needed a distraction.

I saw on facebook that afternoon where Nancy posted about a cool personal project for June.  Although I've not yet finished one of these projects I've attempted, I've always had such fun doing them.  And I have a small collection of these images that are wholly completely fully just for me.  I really think that personal projects are important.  But Monday, I needed a distraction.  Nancy posted that she was going to try to take all her images near her front door.  I liked that idea a whole lot.  So I grabbed my trusty tripod, my trusty remote and my ever so trusty camera and headed to the front door.

Of course if I have a project going on that probably would be best completed alone, I cannot possibly attempt to do it alone.  As soon as the front door opened the children came running as if they'd heard the ice cream truck barreling down the neighborhood.  But I figured a self portrait is a self portrait, whether I'm the only one in the image or not.  And really, an image with them in it is more the reality of my life right now anyway.

I wasn't expecting to get an image that is rivaling my favorite image ever.  Every day I look at it and fall more in love.

Fifteen days from today she will turn three.  In many ways it feels like eons that we've been battling her strong will.  And in many other ways I would swear she was only born a month ago.  I do not know how three years have passed.  I have no explanation.

She's been so difficult.  So very, very challenging from the moment she was born.  I didn't really realize it was better.  It was after returning home from our beach vacation last weekend that it occurred to me that she'd just been really good.  She was delightful on the trip.  Just a joy to be around.  I couldn't remember the last time I'd given her a spanking.  6 months ago I would have laughed in your face if you'd told me I'd say that.... ever!

She's just become so very wonderful.  So very charming.  So very joyful.  So very endearing.  Lately.  Its as if Shawn and I are getting to finally fall in love with her like most parents do when the child first enters the world.  Ours was just delayed a few years.

She sucks her thumb.  The dentist keeps getting on to me about that.  I've insisted that her will is so strong that I'm not even going to begin to try to put a stop to that.  She needs to have a coping mechanism.  (And besides, my sister sucked her thumb until 5th grade when she broke her arm and couldn't physically get it to her mouth anymore.  Of the three of us, her teeth were perfect).   But as we approach her third birthday, I realize I don't want to make her stop because... well, I just don't.  She's my baby and I don't want to let go of that.

I sat in the entry way trying to get a self portrait I liked.  Then she crawled into my lap.  Relaxed into me and started sucking her thumb.  Made me feel like she liked me, loved me, needed me, was comforted by me.  I snuggled her back and took a few images.

They are very far from perfect.  I over exposed them horribly.  The focus did not fall on my face, as I had set it out to.  The focus is on my hair in the second one, where she turns into me and starts to rub my chest and neck as she always does.  But they are vastly perfect to me.  They beautifully, beautifully capture two things about her and me that I couldn't have paid a million dollars to capture.  Someone else probably couldn't have captured it, because that's not who she is when others are present most often.  And they show how her hair is finally getting longer and curlier and so very pretty.

Tina Wilson captured some newborn nursing images of Cora and me.  I couldn't have known that my  hypothyroidism would take my ability to breastfeed Cora away not even four months later.  Those images are treasures to me.  Something that was so important and something I didn't get to do as long as I'd wanted.  Something that communicated love and commitment and bonding to me.

These two images capture that same essence to me.  I feel this season of life slipping through my fingers like sand that I can't hope to contain.  I am wistful over it.    But I have this memory now preserved.  Forever in a dramatic, beautiful way.

Thank you, Nancy, for inspiring me Monday.

And then, I have perfectly preserved my Nathan and all that he is in this moment of his life as well.  It was indeed a good Monday.