Where’d I Go? (Day #96)

No, this is not another post about my ever-changing identity.  This post is about the fact that Husband and I have thousands – literally thousands – of pictures of Lil Mil, and I am in maybe a hundred of them.   100 out of at least 2000.  Less than 5%.

I blame Husband.  After all, who else is supposed to be capturing these moments of me with my little girl?  It’s not that he doesn’t take pictures – he does.  All the time.  I’ll  be holding her and he’ll be snapping away.  Great, I’ll think to myself.  Finally some good pics of us. Then, when I actually look at these photos he’s taken of the two of us, I see her adorable, smiling face … and my arm.  Or shoulder.  Or leg.

She’s front and center.  I’m out of frame.

Yesterday, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  Or hand, as it turned out.  Balancing a laughing Lil Mil with my right (sidebar:  how awesome is it when they first discover their laugh???) and awkwardly clutching my iPhone with my left, I snapped the gem above.  I meant for me to be in the picture – that was the whole point - but one-handed iPhone photography takes skills I don’t have.

Staring at this photo (which I really like, btw), I started wondering: what is the proper balance between Self and Other?  For me, the context is motherhood.  I have a three-and-a-half-month old.  My life is necessarily less about me and more about her right now.  But will it always be like that?  Will I ever be front and center again?  Or have I permanently been relegated to the depths of Stage Left?

Looking back on my own childhood, I remember all the times my parents’ lives were about me.  My activity, my school project, my crisis-of-the-week.  Meanwhile, I have friends who’ve told me that their childhoods revolved around their parents’ lives – their careers, their parties, their nights out and trips away.  I know some of these friends’ parents, and I like them.  Their children don’t.

So where does that leave me?  I have dreams and passions and goals I want to pursue.  A career I’m trying to create.  Books to write, brands to build.  People to see and places to go.  But I also have a daughter whose dreams and passions and goals need cultivating.  A little girl who deserves a mom who will put her front and center.  Not always.  But sometimes.  When it matters.

When it matters. Yes, that sounds good.  Nice and vague.  But what does it mean, practically?  And how am I supposed to know when I’m in one of those this matters moments?

Is it an either/or?  Or is there a way to keep both of us in the picture?

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(I’ve posed this question in the context of motherhood, but I think it might even be more interesting in the context of romantic relationships.  When are you supposed to put your mate front and center?  When is it your turn?  Is it always 50/50?  If your answer is “it depends,” then does the same hold true in a parent-child relationship?)

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