August 29, 2009
Smile for the camera
I got divorced when my son was 6 months old. (It’s a long story for another time.) While it was a hard decision to end my marriage, it ultimately was the best thing for me and therefore for my son. In terms of my boy, it was the best choice I could have made because in setting myself free I was able to be a happy woman which allowed me to be a happy mom. Every situation is different of course and what worked for me would not work for everyone. My son has grown up with two homes and while he talked about us all being together as a family when he was young, he has no sense of drastic change to his life which sometimes happens when you get divorced and the children are older.
I sometimes look back and wonder about how my life would have been different if I had gotten remarried quickly. I was so focused on being a mom that it never occurred to me that I should spend time dating or finding a new relationship. If I had, maybe I would have gotten married again or had more children. It’s impossible to know how our paths would have been altered if our choices had been different.
There are a lot of things that are hard about being a single parent. There are struggles with time and money. Having to deal with the other parent and new partners they may have. The separating of holidays plus the stress of going to school and doing homework, all while shuffling back and forth between two locations, is very hard for both the children and the parents.
There are so many things that we can pinpoint as the toughest aspect of divorce. For me, the saddest thing about being a single mother is the pictures. I have provided my son with a wonderful life. We have travelled and seen things together that are so special and will be memories of a lifetime for my son. The thing is, there are very few pictures that document us doing them together. I have boxes and files full of pictures of my son and all that he has been blessed to do. I am a big picture taker and when I go through them I remember so vividly the adventures we have taken together. In the end though, they are pictures taken by me of my son with the occasional one of us together where I asked a stranger to take a shot.
If I could go back I would have been more conscious of the fact that I needed to have pictures of us together. Last night I went to services at my temple where I was honored by my Sisterhood for the work we did this past year. I have such lovely pictures of my boy on this special night but there is not one of us together. It’s such a shame. I’m going to try to break the habit I have of taking just pictures of him and focus more on having people take them of us together. For those single parents who are reading today, do the same. Stop and ask strangers to capture the moments you have with your children. You will be so happy you did.
My son will look back on the photos and remember the trips and the laughter and the fun and I know he knows I was there. They are memories that are so special and for that I am grateful. In the end it’s not necessarily the life I imagined for myself but in more ways than not, it is the perfect life. I love my son. I love every step we’ve taken together and even though I’m not in the pictures, I was there. When I see his smiling face looking at me from the photo, both he and I know that the reason he smiles so brightly is because I am the one holding the camera.
Have a peaceful and restful Shabbat. Take a picture of your kids and when they look at the camera know that you are there in the moment with them, sharing and laughing and keeping the faith.