The framed photo in my office to remind me of what mattered most needed an update. Before our era of instant cell phone selfies, a trip to a photography studio was in order. It would replace the one that included my children’s father, from whom I was now divorced.
Photographers Joe and Judy Johnston had known my family since my children they were babies. As they posed us for the portrait, they understood this was a milestone different than a wedding or graduation but no less important.
I sat regally proud of my now smaller family. A single strand of pearls seemed perfect with my vintage navy blue dress with three-quarter sleeves that I’d worn many a day in the courtroom. I smiled in the big way I still find myself doing today more than 25 years later.
My children did not smile as widely.
This was a snapshot in time, and the time was not easy. At 6 and 8, they were learning to live in two homes, learning to always be away from one of their parents, and learning lessons of their own capability to navigate life.
Oh the worries of a parent. How we failed them because we fear we didn’t pick the right co-parent or the right stepparent. How we failed them because our lessons in how to parent came from those who never learned it themselves. How we did the best we could, but feared we failed in ways that mattered.
If we have children to worry about we are blessed. More than one dear friend of mine has lost a child since this photo was taken. I count my blessings.
At the time I could not have known what the future would hold for them. I only knew I wanted it to be safe, and happy, and a life they loved. A photograph captures a moment in time, and while it may be the one that is worth more a thousand words, there is often more to the story than meets the eye.
Today I look at my past worries from the perspective of the mother of two thirty something millennials.
I could not have known that, while neither would stay in high school, one would have a master’s degree from NYU and the other a law degree from Harvard. I could not have known that between the two of them they would travel to Sweden, Paris, Columbia and all parts of Central America. I could not have known how they would fall in love, love the earth, and make their lives they love a thousand miles away from me in either direction.
It would take time before I would see my children smile broadly. I first saw it in Ben as he sat in a boat floating down the Ganges River on a trip to find himself in India. I first saw it in Jack when he chose a new name that reflected the self he’d always known he was.
This was a snapshot in time. It remains a priceless portrait and enduring reminder that everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.
Is there a milestone you want to mark?
Can you hold the possibility of a happy future?
Are you willing to trust that good awaits you?