Our Biggest Sale of the Year is Here!🎄 ➔

My aunt just posted one of the only photos she has of just her and her mom, my grandma, to Facebook. The picture was from the summer of 1976. My aunt is 10, my grandma is 50. They are standing in front of a rocky shoreline at sunset, my grandma’s arm wrapped tightly around her shoulder, my aunt’s head snuggled into her embrace. It’s one of the only pictures of her and her mom because she was the eighth in a family of nine kids. The photo has the aged, yellow glow of an Instagram filter, warmly reminding my aunt of that hug from her mom forty-some years ago.

But it is not 1976. Kids like mine will have countless photos from their childhood. How will they curate their own photos when so much has been documented of their little lives? Especially with the first, so many of us schedule newborn photoshoots, six-month photoshoots, one-year photoshoots, interspersed with coordinated monthly photo ops with a sign telling our virtual communities how many months old they are.

In a few years, maybe we have another baby and our world explodes and our hearts expand, and we may even upgrade our phone solely for the extra storage. We love those little people so much and capture photo after photo of their new firsts together. We are voyeurs in their newfound sibling love and have, literally, thousands of photos to scroll through when we should be sleeping.

All too soon, that baby is walking and maybe we hang back to watch the silhouette of two tiny bodies strolling together down a sidewalk; one steady, one wobbling. We wait for that perfect refraction of sunlight to shine down to snap a picture and don’t think heaven itself could be more beautiful, until (gasp) now they’re holding hands.

What we often forget, as mothers, is that we are part of this captured story. Yes, our kids will treasure the photos with their siblings. They will laugh at their outfits and their awkward stages. I hope mine will smile at the memories.

But where will they see their mom in the visual storybook of their childhood?

I hope my two girls will be able to conjure up tangible memories, as I still do, of my own mother’s love. I can remember the prickle of her legs as I sat snuggled in her lap on a warm summer day. The soothing sound of her voice as she sang “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins to help me fall asleep (even though I now know she can’t carry a tune). My girls will most certainly have a memory of my prickly legs, but I hope they don’t have too many memories of my face obscured by a phone taking their picture, hanging back more than I was hanging with them.

Thinking about that photo of my aunt, the eighth of nine kids, she and my grandma are near a beach, which meant it was probably a vacation, which meant it was a really big deal for a family with a nine-kid budget. This was a moment. A special one with just her and her mom.

So whether I have two kids or nine (I won’t have nine), there are always going to be more of them than there are of me. This photo helped me realize that not only do I need to capture more of these one-on-one moments, but I need to create them too. My girls are a pair that I pray will never separate. But they are individuals too, and they each deserve their own chance to stand the sunlight with me. Just me.

(And maybe someone nearby who can take our picture.)

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Kathy Sisson

Kathy Sisson is a part-time marketer, full-time mom, and late-night writing hobbyist living in the Midwest. Her 12th grade English teacher told her she needed “to do something” with her writing. Half a lifetime later, she’s finally doing it. ​Her published musings on life and littles have been featured on Her View From Home and Parent.com. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

When You Feel Like You’re Failing, Know You’re Not Alone

In: Motherhood
Tired woman sitting in messy child's bedroom

Dear parent, you are going to fail. You are going to fail over and over again while parenting. I don’t care if you have nine children or one. I don’t care if you are a step-parent, an adoptive parent, or anything in between—you are going to fail. Over and over again. But the great thing about kids is God made them so resilient and forgiving, so He could show us grace on earth.  I have forgotten to send the paperwork to the school. I have forgotten about events and practices for the kids.  RELATED: I May Fail, But I’ll Go...

Keep Reading

Our Nanny Is a Special Part of Our Family

In: Motherhood
Family with nanny, color photo

The saying is “it takes a village,” and I didn’t know how true this would ring until I had children of my own. Within ours, I anticipated family, friends, the church, and various members of the community. What I never anticipated was the special role our nanny would fill within our family. As working moms, leaving our kids in someone else’s care is hard, no matter the circumstances. We wonder if they’ll miss us and whether their day will still feel full in spite of our absence.  Ever since we brought our nanny into the family, I’ve never had to...

Keep Reading

Maybe Motherhood Is a Chance to Begin Again

In: Motherhood

It’s a funny thing when you have your own children, only then do you start to see yourself in such a way that you’ve never seen before. Terrifying yet beautiful. Before you become a parent, you have this vision of how you swear you will parent. It may be an exact replica of how you were parented or may be completely different. The only guarantee is that you don’t actually know until you become a parent. Some days you hear yourself and you sound just like your mother, your father, your grandmother, your aunt, or anyone who was around long...

Keep Reading

Healing and a Horse Named Chadwick

In: Motherhood
Woman with horse, black-and-white photo

I am by no means a horsewoman. I am a regular person lucky enough to have had an extraordinary experience with a horse. My daughter asked to ride horses from the time she could talk. Having no horse experience myself, in the fall of 2019, I found a barn willing to give pony lessons to a small child. There was something waiting for me at the barn too . . . I just didn’t know it yet. I can’t remember when Chadwick started watching us from the fence. One day he was just there . . . and every day...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Growth Is Tangible, and When It Is You Hold On Tight

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom putting bike helmet on child

I never expected my sign to come in the form of a plastic bag. As a parent, you’re told over and over how fast it all goes, to cherish these times because they’re gone in a blink. You see the gradual changes in your kids as they move through milestones. One day, they can hold their own spoon. They begin stringing words into sentences. Their ages are counted in years and no longer months. You watch these things happen every day, but I didn’t realize some transitions would come in tangible ways, like a grocery bag filled with wet swim...

Keep Reading

Some Nights They Need You a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping, color photo

Some nights they need you a little more, mama. Because of the bad dreams or the bogeyman they are adamant is under the bed. Because firefighter daddy’s schedule leaves him missing goodnight tuck-ins and bedtime stories several times a week, sometimes leaving them a little needier and more emotional. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. RELATED: I’ll Lay With You As Long As You Need, My Child Because they are sick. Because they feel safe in your presence. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (okay, hardly ever)...

Keep Reading

Will My Child Be Like I Was As a Teen?

In: Motherhood, Teen
Woman holding baby, color photo

The day my son turned 15, I was overcome by fear and anxiety. An impending doom like a little, black, raincloud hung over my head as I wondered . . . will he be like me as a teenager? The year that led up to his 15th birthday, I rewatched Dawson’s Creek. Perhaps that’s where I went wrong. I binge-watched the ’90s teen drama of these TV characters who grew up alongside me, but this time through the eyes of an adult—a mom—and not the eyes of a teenager. Episode after episode features teens talking about sex, having sex, drinking,...

Keep Reading

I’m Giving My Daughter Space To Define Her Adoption

In: Motherhood
Young girl and her mom at pumpkin patch, color photo

I cracked a joke, and as I walked from the table, I heard her mutter to her friends, “Good thing I’m adopted!” I forced myself to continue moving and tried to hide my rapidly blushing cheeks. I volunteer at my daughter’s school when I can. Today I had library duty, and it’s an assignment I love. I am an avid reader, and I like being surrounded by so many words. I also get to see the kids interact with each other and the librarian. Lastly, it’s an hour commitment so I can be a mom but also still be me....

Keep Reading

Where Have All the Puppet Shows Gone?

In: Grown Children, Motherhood
Two children behind blanket with puppets, color photo

I remember the puppet shows so vividly.  The stage curtain was always the same old, red-checked, woolen blanket strung roughly between two chairs and tied off with rope.  As their mama, I was of course their captive audience of one. Cheering and clapping enthusiastically after each performance. The plays always felt like they were a little too long, perhaps deliberately dragged out toward the final act, just to keep my attention.  At the time, I mistakenly thought those cute, slightly annoying puppet shows would last forever.  Fast forward 25 years and those puppet shows have well and truly gone. There are...

Keep Reading

Sweet Babies, I’ll Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two children lying in bed, color photo

When your world is calm and peaceful, I’ll be there. When your world is chaotic like an ice cream shop on the hottest day of summer, I’ll be there. When you need a Band-Aid applied and a boo-boo kissed, I’ll be there. When you want to perform in your Frozen microphone like you’re performing for a crowd of 20,000 people, I’ll be there. When you feel lost and alone, I’ll be there. When you feel you have nowhere to go, I’ll be there. RELATED: I Will Always Be There When You Need Me, My Son When you need a pep...

Keep Reading