The other day I found this article on The New York Times site, Our Mothers As We Never Saw Them and I thought it was brilliant so I decided to write something similar for Mother's Day. The above image of my mother at 16 is my personal favorite. She had told me that she took this image of her self and made a self-depreciating joke about her teenage angst quickly dismissing it. But I was in love. I would sneak a peek at this image whenever I saw the old box of photos or whenever I thought of it. I think on some level I worshiped her; her ability to remain so neutral. Of course I know better now, now that we have grown to be more realistic friends with one another and our relationship is, to my surprise, better than ever but back then I was this girl at 16...
When I looked at my mother before she had me and we were the same age I saw everything I wasn't. I saw a woman who already knew herself. She saw awkward teenage angst, her adult self judging how cool she once thought she was, but I saw how little she had changed and admired it. She took that coolness, that angst and became a successful artist, even teaching college courses by the time I was 16. I saw her dedication to her work, always knowing who she was and who she was always going to be. I looked in the mirror and saw a nervous, jittery, awkward loner type girl that dreamed of magic, not conjuring or spells but real life, everyday magic. I saw a girl who was just taking life one day at a time because I had no dreams of my future other than to be a good wife and maybe have kids.
Strange how I inherited my mother's imagination and father's wit but because it wasn't grounded it confused not only me but also my mother and I gave up on believing in magic and tried to learn how to be practical and fit into a box that had been defined for me, quickly married at 19 and becoming a mother six months later when I found out I was pregnant - because you are a mother the moment you become pregnant.
My life then became all about my son and I became determined to allow him to have life experiences I wasn't allowed when I was young so that his decisions could be based on awareness, knowledge and his own passions. As unhealthy as it may sound, at some point my son and I began learning about life together. I have recently started watching Gilmore Girls reruns because it helps me feel a little better about how I raised my son. It's ok, you can laugh.
The reason I share this is because now my son is married and I see how the generations after mine are waiting to have kids which I think is great but I also see how much they use technology and how temporary memories are becoming with apps like Snapchat. There is something to be said for documenting who you are, your own journey of self-discovery as you get older, your life lessons, your adventures. Even if you don't have children you will want (even need) to look back at your own progress and celebrate it. Life has a way of making us question our value, our worth, our purpose and having tangible things to reflect with helps. Document the fun but also document the pain.
Because of my mother's early selfie and other artists who paved the way to use their art to process pain, life experiences and reflect, Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dali for example, I found different ways to document my own experiences through self-portraits, selfies, writing and vlogging. Don't be afraid to be who you are and document the process of figuring out who that is and how it will shift and evolve. Those who surround you, especially your children will thank you for it and it will help them have the courage to do the same.
Now I'm curious about what you know of your mother before she became a mother. Share if you would like!
Micah's confessions and lessons that have helped with self-forgiveness, healing and acceptance.