So, my oldest is now in college but has been involved with photography classes since high school. Often times she needs models to help with certain projects. As her mom I am always at the ready! When she was still under our roof I was the savior for last minute donuts, rides for friends, and any assistance needed for school projects…aka #1-photo-assistant. Mainly I would hold light boxes. I took my lighting job seriously, making sure the subjects for shots were lit to perfection. My lighting was ON POINT! I’d get on step stools in precarious positions all to get the right angle. My hands would cramp with the grip it required to hold those light boxes at a certain angle. I found angles that aren’t even known as angles. Angles, angles, angles! Angles that only a #1 photo assistant (aka Mom) could master. All for the cause! But, all the while offering myself as a willing “subject matter” too. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride…
When she came home for Thanksgiving break, her stress level at a premium with work to do and a photo project to complete, I of course stepped up to the plate offering my services on any level. I had actually missed participating in these projects since she had graduated high school and moved onto college. A creative junky myself, thriving on the dramatic artistic effects her photo projects could satisfy. I got the: “Oh yah, thanks mom, that would be great…hey Mace can you model for me”? The topic of the project was described as The Power Of Makeup. I figured I was a shoe-in! What could her teenage sister know about the power of makeup? That takes life experience, that takes a ferocious confidence to look right in the lens of the camera and snarl, that takes a relentless badass, that takes…her mom!
It came time for the photo shoot. We had just finished a great afternoon of making traditional sweet potatoes, listening to music, laughing about former Thanksgiving memories. Now it was time. I was ready. She started with her sister, obviously warming up for the main event. I held the light box for the first set of pics, on point as usual. No one could compete with my light holding skills. A slight shadow cast across the dribbled mascara on the left cheek. A highlight to the beautiful brown/green hue of her iris…MASTER! First set done…”ok mom, you can do this next one”. She had a plan. She had a vision of what pictures she needed to capture. It was my turn. She knew, I had the POWER!
I WAS The Power of Makeup!
We headed back into the kitchen, our makeshift photo shoot prep station. She’s done in 2 minutes, a wad of bright red lipstick on my lips. I figure huh, ok, it’s her vision. Maybe she’s planning on a pic of natural beauty with a lipstick accent. I could follow that thought. I said to myself, no matter what, I’m gonna rock this shoot! Then, she asked me to smear some on my teeth, and down across my lips onto my cheek. Ok, you’re the boss. Clearly looking for a view of angry power, “who needs this red lipstick”…I got the concept! For the first time, her sister was the light holder and I, mom, the subject matter. We were having a great time. I made facial expressions that only Annie Leibovitz (famous photographer) had previously captured! I WAS the angry power of makeup! Yielding compliments from my youngest, the light holder, while my other daughter, the photographer, laughed at my commitment to the task at hand. I OWNED IT!
When all was said and done, I couldn’t wait to look at the pictures. Surely I had earned myself a spot in future photo shoots. No longer the light holder, maybe dad could graduate from non-participating bystander to that role. It would take him a while but he could learn it. I on the other hand, was needed in FRONT of the camera, I had the POWER and I finally got to prove it. There were GREAT pictures…of my RED LIPS. WHAT?!?!?! WAIT!!!! Clearly there was a mistake! Was her lens on macro setting? Did she not capture my ‘sensual bedroom eye’ look? My ‘hey, I’m so surprised‘ look? My ‘piercing through you like daggers‘ look’? Nope, my lips…pictures of my red lips…and oh yes, my finger making the Shhhhhhhh sign made it into one picture. Well THANK GOD, cause I had prepped my finger for that very moment my whole life. My finger was ready for it’s time to shine in THAT photo! Too bad another finger was in the position of prepping when we were looking at the results of my POWER! But I guess we’re not allowed to use THAT finger toward our children.
It was at this moment that I realized I am truly middle-age! Not young enough to be vibrant, not old enough to be graceful, but somewhere in between. In this category we can’t yet embrace our aging because we’re still in that “too bad…she was really cute when she was younger” stage. Thanks to running, all the pounding over the years left me with a smile like that of the Grinch (at least I’m consistent with the season)! My youngest was like, “wow look at those cheekbones mom” during my moment of photo-fame, followed by a laugh when I declared it was actually due to a lack of collagen that comes with middle age…no Grace Jones here!
Oh well…it’s life right? Once I stopped lamenting over my middle-agedom, and losing “bride” status to my far more vibrant 16 year old competition, I realized I wouldn’t have it any other way. All this weathering has a great story to tell. And I will continue the journey to Graceful, alongside my beautiful girls, while maintaining my status as #1 photo assistant!