Wednesday, August 21, 2013


At the playground today, I watched from the distance as a youngish mom with her oneish daughter took a selfie with her iphone. She propped her daughter on her hip, pressed her cheek against her girl's, and stretched out her arm while leaning back to set the shot, the swings framing the backdrop of the shaded park. I imagined her posting it to Facebook, envisioned the "likes" and reactions to the picture and caption. I didn't see the photo, but I saw the story:

I saw that in taking that selfie, she wanted to capture a memory of the day, that fleeting and elusive high of being fully present at the park, with her daughter. Feeling happy because of an unexpected friendship she formed earlier with at-home dad she met, watching their children discover each other and delight in one another, swinging in tandem. I watched as she basked in the sunshine and experienced the joy she brought to her daughter in simply bringing her to the park, being present there. I witnessed the story she wanted to keep, and I loved what she wanted to preserve.

I hope, then, that when she sees that photo she posted, she does not notice that her hair looked perhaps a bit windswept, that her shirt was askew, that maybe, in the photo, the sunlight cast harsh shadows betraying what was true in real time. I do not say this to be unkind; in fact, what I mean to say is --

When she looks again at this playground selfie, I hope she remembers the new friendship she enjoyed, her laughter that bubbled out, an echo of her daughter's giggles in the swing. I hope she sees the glee in her daughter's face, that she notices how bright her own eyes shine with contentment. I hope she silences her inner critic and instead remembers the moment she captured, and understands that in snapping this photo, she's collected another illustration for the story she is writing - just one page out of thousands in the life she shares, the life she is making, with her daughter.

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