Some days I am just jealous as I see all the fabulous children’s pictures on Facebook. Back in my days of herding toddlers digital cameras were just a Dick Tracy fantasy, along with wristwatches that answered phone calls. Film was a precious commodity and we never knew if we got the shot. It was just a stab in the dark. Maybe you cut off heads or the lighting was bad. You did not find out until you paid 27 cents per picture. So many high hopes would be dashed as I hurriedly flipped through the envelopes.
So it became a necessity to make the pilgrimage to the Sears Photo Studio once a year to get a professional photo taken. I would fuss about what they should wear, time it not to avoid a feeding or nap time, and stuff everyone into the car seat and drive 30 minutes to make a memory. Of course they would fall asleep and wake up crabby. But I had to do it. Somehow I knew that later on when all these baby birds had flown the nest I would need these pictures to soothe my soul.
The birds grew up and flew away to make their mark. As they began their military training thankfully the age of digital photography and social media had arrived. The Naval Academy and visitors would post photos of Plebe Summer and I would scour the internet. “Look! I am sure that is him! I can tell by the nape of his neck!” Or ” I’d recognize those curls anywhere.” That proof of life-a photo showing them standing on their feet-what joy it would bring to my heart. And if by chance they were smiling? Heavens broke open with the sound of Hallelujahs!
Now with children deployed those proof of life photos are much harder to come by. Like a rare jewel every once in a while I get a gift. Maybe it is a selfie in a text-only brought about by much mother begging. Maybe it is a Department of Defense news release. I scan those the same way I did those Plebe Summer photos. If it is their unit and I don’t see their face that’s ok. It still is one step closer to my baby.
But the picture I want to see the most is the one with them standing next to a welcome home sign. Then I will know all is well. And that my friends will be priceless.
Beautifully written! My son is camera shy, so he doesn’t post selfies, and private pics are few and far between. Thank you for writing with such eloquence.