My mom kept an old-fashioned telephone book where she listed names, telephone numbers and addresses. In a sleeve at the back of that book were two photographs that always used to annoy me, perhaps I would go so far as to say that they would make me angry when I saw them.
It was a series of snapshots taken of my mom and me. I was still quite little…but already old enough that my mom and my relationship was rocky (but then again, considering the fact that my earliest memory is of my mom throttling me against the bathroom wall when I was about 5, that should not be too surprising).
In both photographs I am in my mom’s lap, and in one of them we are laughing…full bellied laughs, in the other one I am asleep and my mom is looking at me…calmly and with a loving expression on her face. It always used to hurt me when I looked at those photographs…and make me angry, because they felt like such fake photos. They did not depict our real relationship, they depicted a fairy-tale of a loving relationship that we never had.
When I was packing up my mom’s things in her study I came across those two photographs again. And I had a flash of understanding. My mom knew that those photos did not depict our reality…but in that very moment, my mom managed to be the mother to me that she always aspired to be.