Last Thursday was my birthday and I seem to be mentioning this birthday thing over and over here, but bear with me because I think this is meaningful somehow. I think I am finally realizing that I am getting older, that time is indeed doing its trademark jig, ticking by. And I also think that I am oddly okay with this reality, that I am thankful for it.
For the most part, the morning was business as usual. There were cartoons. There were breakfast negotiations. There was hair brushing. There was school to get to. As the big girls and I were racing out the door, Little Girl followed, arms outstretched, pleading. All par for the course. She was barefoot, ponytailed, still in her PJs. And it was clear as day: she wanted to go with us. And I looked down at her, this little creature who was wearing the Old Navy rainbow pajamas both of her sisters wore again and again, her blond hair tied into a tiny sprig atop her head, her diaper dipping down, her tiny feet tiptoeing on the ground, and I did it; I surrendered. I bent down and scooped her up. She’s coming with us! I called to Husband. Grab her sneakers!
And he did. He grabbed them and slipped them on her, and threaded her little arms through that little quilted green vest that her big girls also wore, and we were off. All of us Rowley girls. But first. I paused in the threshold of the door to our home and I said something. I wish I had a picture of all of us today. And Husband pulled his phone from his pocket, and snapped a couple. And, no, they didn’t come out great. They were blurry in spots; we were all looking in different directions, making unflattering faces. But the pictures captured us. The girls and me. On my 34th birthday.
And then. Two days later, I clicked on my friend Allison Tate’s Facebook link to a piece she had written on the Huffington Post. I encountered Allison – a fellow insecure Ivy Leaguer and newly-minted mom of four (a fact which makes me only a smidge envious) – in this blogging/writing world years ago and met her in person during summer 2010. We went for Greek food with Lindsey and Denise and talked and laughed a lot. We talked about life and parenthood and I remember discussing whether we’d all have more kids. I think Allison and others were on to the fact that I was hiding a wonderful secret; I was a mere five weeks pregnant with Little Girl.
Anyway, detour. Here we are, two-plus years later, each of us with a new daughter, each of us still writing and asking about parenthood, about life. I clicked on her link and I read her words about how we moms should really get in the picture with our kids – even though our kids are the cute ones, even though we don’t look perfect. She made many wonderful points, all of which resonated with me, and got me thinking. And thinking some more.
Well, it turns out that I am not the only one who was moved by Allison’s words. At the time I am writing this, Allison’s piece has been shared over 140,000 times on Facebook. Clearly, she has struck a chord. And tomorrow? This friend of mine, this honest and witty and refreshingly real mom of four is appearing on Katie Couric’s show to talk about this piece she wrote, this message she has sent, this message that reached me, and so many of us. And I will tune in and watch her, and I will smile.
I will smile for many reasons, including this: Words are powerful things. Words can have such an effect, and a great effect. We mothers and people can cook up ideas, ideas that matter to us, and deeply, and we can communicate these ideas and they can change the way people think, and act, and see things.
All of a sudden, three-plus years into this blogging gig, I am rethinking things. I am wondering if I should post more pictures of myself and my kids here. Yes, with their faces. I have been so adamant about anonymity; about hiding their faces, but what have I been missing out on? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to tell stories about them and illustrate these stories with pictures of them, of us? Wouldn’t it be wonderful, years from now, to point to the picture above and say: It was my birthday, girls, and you guys gave me that red scarf. It had zebras on it. And your little sister insisted on coming with us to school and so we all went, but before we did, Daddy took this picture and I don’t know what I am doing with my arm or what I was saying, but there we were, all of us Rowley girls, at the beginning of another day for us, and year for me.
Regardless of whether I change my approach here, I vow to get in the picture more. To stop worrying so much about what I am wearing, about whether I look skinny enough or young enough or happy enough. I am realizing, thanks to my friend Allison, that what is important is that I am here, alive and well and so in love with these three little girls and this life that is theirs and mine and ours, this hard and crazy and beautiful life I am now more than ever desperate to document.
Thank you, Allison. I will be watching and smiling. And if you need a place to crash for a minute during your NYC media whirlwind, come on over. I have three little babysitters waiting to play with that little cutie of yours. And please know something: As a writer and a mother, I am proud of you and inspired by you. Enjoy every minute of this wild and deserved ride. When things settle down a bit, you need to help me figure out how to get Husband on board for #4
Are you good about getting in photos with your kids or do you avoid photographic evidence of your less-than-perfect self? Did you read Allison’s piece and did it inspire you? Do you think I should reconsider using photos of my kids on this blog? Looking back, do you wish you had more pictures with your own mother? Why do you think Allison’s words have caused such an enormous response?