Somebody That I Met Changed My Life

This post has been reworked and refitted from a piece of writing from four years ago to take on more of a current shape.

Invisible Mama:

Family portraits come in all shapes & sizes. Colors & emotions. Ages & faces. Expressions & moods. Temperatures & climates. I know this variety perhaps more than a non-photographer because I see it all. I photograph it all. And even though this term barely applies in the land of digital vs. film, sometimes I’m surprised by what develops from the negatives in the long run.

Sometimes I worry that my kids have an invisible mama.

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Someone had to take this photo. I’m glad it was me. The short story is that I was practicing for an upcoming gig and it was my first time using this portable umbrella lighting kit. Someone had to take this photo. I had to take this photo. I’m in it and around it behind the scenes. It’s my color. Totally my manual settings. It’s my timing. It’s my vision. On a good day, I see ME.

On a bad day, my invisibility is vastly obvious to me. The divide between my family and me is wide. On a bad day.

I’ve always struggled with invisibility. It’s no superpower. I grew up as one of five grieving kids in a blended family. My parents hand-drew a bedroom for me at the end of several winding hallways. It was like a treehouse, and large and quiet. I could disappear there whenever I wanted. Eventually I learned how to disappear in a crowd. Body language and voice tactics. Hair over my eyes. Shrinking into narrow shoulders. When I wanted to hide, I could hide. I could sneeze and no one would say “Bless you” because no one heard me. And if they did, they’d seem bewildered to discover that I was there.

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These are the words and stories of a bewildered, grieving, gawky kid. It is not necessarily fact, or anyone else’s version of events. In 8th grade, I confided my invisibility fears to a friend and she confirmed that she could see it, but she didn’t know why it was there. She said she thought I could shine. At times. And that somehow I had learned to shrink away and shut down.

It was my own doing. I did it so well, that eventually I couldn’t control it and I’d disappear even when I didn’t want to.

There are a lot of reasons I’m a photographer, other than art being in my bloodlines. The camera is a shield for me. I can wield control in the midst of chaos, sadness, birth and continuing life. I am also sensitive, internally and externally, so I see things a certain way. It’s a natural reflex I’ve been channeling for years. I started to see myself develop in the negatives.

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And it changed over time. I started to learn to channel the radiating joy and laughter. I learned to shine, maybe not on command, but I shined so often, that it would just happen to coincide with social events. It was convenient like that.

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Sometimes I see this. I am this. Not always, but a lot of the time:

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Sometimes I see that smiling face on myself when I parent. I know that in many ways parenthood has opened me up and lifted me up into love and heart territory I didn’t know was possible. Then there’s the other side – the “off” days or weeks. I used to call them “gone days.” Or “gone weekends”. With Des in the picture, I feel less invisible but I have often felt that the bond between Cassidy and Scarlet doesn’t always leave room for me. Do you ever feel that way with one or more of your kids?

Do you ever think it’s your own fault?

I know we have sacred time together five days a week but when the weekend hits, I start to disappear. And, I let it happen. I can’t control it. I never was a four-year-old girl with a live father. This is new territory to me. Surely had he survived, I would have thrown my arms around his neck and never let go. I remember how it felt to have him hold me – strong. When I’d wake up from various toddler-related nightmares, of rising trees and shaking earths, I was steady in his arms. I lost that steadiness.

She didn’t.

changed my life

changed my life

I don’t think of a second child as a do-over. Rather, I think there is ample opportunity for powerful relationships with both. I love and like them differently at different times, but at matching fierce levels. I ache for both. And I worry about both.

I marvel at the ways Des seems like me. I marvel even more at the ways he doesn’t. Will my kids learn to disappear or shine?

Somebody That I Met Changed.. My Life. This is the #blogging prompt for #FTST (Finish The Sentence Friday) this week. Link up with your own personal story!

I helped make this family, in a pretty major way. It would not exist without me. I invested all of my body and heart. So it’s strange that I feel it could go on without me sometimes. And I wonder how much of it is them, and how much of it is me?

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And the biggest part of my heart knows that my worst fears are not true. The family needs me as I need them. Every now and then I remember to put myself into the photo, fully, and make it so that you can see more than just my shadow. My blended background. We all hold each other up. We fill each other in too. And, we put back color when the others seem to disappear..

Here I am.

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Somebody that I married, and two people I created and helped shape – changed my life. So much so, that some of the words I wrote four years ago have already turned invisible. And I love seeing that past against this brilliantly colored present.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “Somebody that I met changed..” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

One Year Gone, Holding On

Hey, remember that time last year when I had two nephews born two weeks apart?

Yes, that. They were due two MONTHS apart, with baby Myles coming first on February 24th – right on time. My little sister, Marisa, didn’t want a leap year baby! Baby Parker came two weeks later on March 10th (today!), even though his due date was in May. They’re cousins – identical cousins. Let’s go back in time, shall we, and then we can flash forward to the present.

The present is rather fun.

Last year in mid-March, I introduced you all to two new main characters in my life with this writing:

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I didn’t put on a cape to attend Scarlet’s spring concert, but sometimes it comes close. I DID put on a cape last week to visit the NICU, for the first time since Des spent time in one. It was nothing and everything like that one time. Did I tell you that my nephew Parker was born a week ago last Thursday? 4 pounds 7 ounces, 18 inches long, and a heck of a lot of hair. He decided to come early, because really, why miss all the goodness from the outside? There’s a lot of goodness on the outside.

Just like that, my sister has become a NICU mom. Like I was. Like Wonder Woman.

And Parker Steven, middle name for my late great father – Steven Klein – seems to wear a cape too. In just a week, he has changed into a super hero. He can breathe on his own. He can suck a pacifier. He is learning to breastfeed. He is successfully winning the fight against jaundice. He sleeps and grows and his hair seems to grow too. He gets milk through his nose!

His oxygen saturation, or whatever you call it, is even better than his NICU cousin’s was at full term!

For more info from Lindsay and Parker, you can check out her blog HERE, and subscribe to her Caring Journal HERE.

It’s not about me but it is about me because I’m about me and this blog is (mostly) about me. So I got the news that she was in labor and I cried and took to the dog trails with Athena. After burning 3,000 angry, sad calories, I waited by the phone. I got the news that he was born and ok and I cried of relief. I tossed and turned and waited for more news. I cried that my sister had become a NICU mom too. I wrung my hands and went to Target and the co-op, and stocked up on whatever I thought they’d need. My older sister and Parker, and my little sister and baby Myles James – born two weeks before Parker!

Talk about identical cousins.

Then I put on my cape. I left the kids at home with a sick Cassidy and I drove alone to the hospital, took a deep breath, hugged my brother-in-law in the hospital, washed my hands, walked into baby Parker’s hospital room, and then fell in love.

Then I got to meet baby Myles all over again, but without two cranky kids in tow!

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2017 Tamara back now. Did you like how I used those little stars to show a snippet of time? I liked it. Ok, so last weekend we traveled to NJ for my nephews’ joint first birthday party. It was a whirlwind 24 hours, but oh so worth it! Both nephews have such big families that it was mostly a family-only party. And the relatives I saw that I hadn’t seen in YEARS! Boy, that was nice. Especially the ones exclaiming over how tall and thin I am, after all this time. I wasn’t even wearing heels! What a great stroke of the ego. Also, the party had M&Ms and cake, sweet cake. So much cake. All in all, I was in a place in which I belong.

Within my family, and crossing family lines, until it all blends together and meets in the middle.

The lighting was terrible and I was distracted. I had no idea photos would happen at all, but something took over me, and I compensated where things (light) were lacking. It’s all about the moments, though. One year gone. So many not yet begun.


This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “The places I belong are…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.