Saturday’s Share: Editing Life

Life, edited.

Welcome to Saturday’s Share – Reflections and impressions inspired by and celebrating images from daily life, to add a bit of sparkle to the weekend. Happy Saturday!

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. For the first time in months, today’s Saturday’s Share contains two pictures. Above is the edited version of the picture, first snapped when the kids were either 2 and 5 years old, or 3 and 6.

And editing is what I want to talk about, today, as the end of the year grows near, and a new one is hard on its heels. This tends to be a time for looking back, evaluating what we’ve done and how far we’ve moved toward our goals. It’s also a time for looking ahead, for redefining the journey we wish to make in the coming year.

Just as I edited the original snapshot, bringing forth certain elements, embellishing with little touches and special effects that help to enhance a mood, framing it all up into a pleasing package, so do many of us edit our lives at this time of year, in many ways.

There’s the traditional holiday newsletter, common in so many Christmas cards. What do we include in them, and what do we leave unsaid? A year can contain a great deal of living.

I used to write Christmas newsletters, but I don’t anymore. In the last one I wrote, I reported that we were expecting our second child. The following July, our son Elijah was born, and severe brain injury sent him immediately to the NICU, where he died 12 days later. There was no way I could think of to give that news in a holiday greeting, and so I never sent another.

Resolutions are popular, as the new year approaches. These are another way of editing our lives. Often, the way they are expressed suggests that we think that we’ve been making a mistake in not doing (or in doing) whatever we’ve resolved to do or not do, and the resolution is an attempt to edit out that failing, to maybe come closer to whatever our personal vision of perfection looks like.

When I snapped this picture of my children sitting on our unlit woodstove, I was one kind of parent – the type mainstream American culture would refer to as “a good mom”. The picture gives many clues – the perfectly decked-out mantle, freshly dusted. A woodstove remaining unlit on a cold day, so that it could be used as a staging area. The childrens’ perfectly coordinating outfits, that match the blanket they sat on. Even those Santas I pressed into their hands just before I started snapping the photos.

It doesn’t show in the picture, but I remember that I was fussy and demanding. I had an idea how I wanted this picture to look, and I was determined to have my way. I was, after all, the mother. At the time, the kids were used to me acting that way – it’s clear in the fact that they could be happy, even with my irritability and insistence that they do it my way. That they were at ease enough to whisper together, despite me.

I’ve edited myself intensely since then. As a person, and as a mother.

I no longer insist that the children live according to my image of who and what they should be. I no longer set the stage and demand that things be done my way.

I don’t take so many pictures of them, these days. When I do, they are often tumbled and tousled, captured as-is in the midst of their lives. Lives that they are building for themselves, one choice at a time, one breath at a time.

I’m less interested in presenting an image to show to others than I am in these two remarkable young people, in the things they love, in the spark of individuality that they each carry.

I would still take their picture on the woodstove if they wanted me to – and if we didn’t happen to be using it. I might or might not take the time to dust the mantle. It’s not decorated, this year.

But, if we took any such picture today, it wouldn’t be my picture. It would be ours.

Life, as it was….in a staged version.

When I look at the above picture, it reminds me of how far I’ve come from that “good mom” who took this image.

I’ve become so much more that “good mom” isn’t even relevant. I’ve become an ally, a partner in their growing up, rather than an authority who steers and directs. And, because of that, I get to see something far more beautiful than either of the photos here. It’s their living, both raw and edited, what they choose to share, and what they keep to themselves.

And somehow, in stepping back from the role of “mom”, and claiming instead the right to be myself – yes, even with my children – I’ve opened up a new version of my own life, too. One in which I delve into my own soul and follow my own passions, alongside and interwoven with supporting the children in theirs.

It’s a wonderful type of editing, and I’m glad I’ve done it.

And how about you? Have you made any edits to your life, lately? Do you plan on any resolutions, for the new year and beyond?

Saturdays are for sharing!

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