I remember when my children were little and the years ahead felt like they would stretch on forever. Especially the time between birth and starting school, because those days were long.
I have memories of days spent on my belly on the living room floor, trying to teach my daughter to roll over, or crawl, or reach for a toy. Hours spent trying to get her to smile, laugh, say mama. Hearing her wake in the morning and bringing her back to my bed, where she’d lay beside me and play with my hair (bliss!).
When she was weeks, months, and even a few years old, the idea of her growing up and leaving home seemed SO far away. I had SO much time.
But here’s the thing: don’t blink.
It’s all a bit of a blur now, 23 years later. Of course I have memories, but I’m surprised how often my daughter asks me a question about her childhood and I can’t remember. Or shares a story that even when prompted, I still have zero recollection. So I go searching through photo boxes and albums trying to put my hand on evidence of her memory. There it is, and it all comes flooding back for me. Thank goodness for photos!
And this is why I cried when I read a blog post from one of our Grads, Sally Frawley.
She’s an amazing cook, a food photographer, blogger, and mama to two boys now in their mid-20s. Earlier this year, Sally’s last baby bird flew the nest to have an open ended adventure, and she blogged about their last day and last meal together. Her words took me right back to the days when my babies were still my babies, and still in my nest. It reminded me how when my daughter moved out of home at 19, even though she wasn’t moving far away, it was the end of an era. Once again I was thankful for all the photos preserving that time in our life.
Sally’s boy might be back in a few months, or even a year, but like me she knew his adventure would mark the transition from one kind of motherhood to a new one.
For her, every special occasion is anchored around a meal with a superstar dish, and every story she writes is interwoven with the food that went with it. So it’s fair to assume Sally’s recipes are a tasty trigger for her own family memories, just as photos are a visual trigger.
Related: A Lifestyle Food Photography Guide
And with Mother’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to share Sally’s story. It’s heartwarming, beautifully written, and it might make you cry too. But what I want you to take from it is the importance of taking photos of all the moments. And it doesn’t matter if they’re technically imperfect or phone photos, they’re all a key to memories that get locked away (because there’s only so much room in the human brain for easily retrievable memories!). And when you drag out the photo box or albums (PLEASE print your photos!) you can luxuriate in stories and moments you did not even know you’d forgotten.
The day, Wednesday, dawned cloudy, foggy and damp from overnight rain. Humidity hung gently in the air, not too overwhelmingly so but enough to signal sunshine behind the foggy shroud. A weather metaphor for the morning ahead couldn’t have been more apt. Birds chorused outside and a hum buzzed throughout the house.
Today was the day, the culmination of years of hard work, planning and anticipation. Today was the day our eldest son, his girlfriend and friends set off, cars loaded to the gills, on their round Australia adventure on a quest chasing sunshine, sea spray and the red dirt of the outback.
They’ve planned this journey since the start of their apprenticeships. Days starting before dawn on cold mornings trudging through mud or when morning humidity warned of a hot work day ahead toiling on building sites. Days when muscles ached from hard physical labour. Days of working through the uncertain months of a pandemic and lockdowns while the rest of world sheltered in fear in their homes when enjoying the rewards of the daily grind were impossible. All the days of one foot in front of the other motivated by a dream, finally culminating in today.
We started the day enjoying breakfast together, a meal my husband called my last ‘fix’ of mothering. Bacon and eggs with oozy yolks, thick crusty slices of toasted sourdough and hot coffee. A last few moments to relax together, chat and hear about all the plans one last time.
I peppered him with questions desperately trying to commit their initial itinerary to memory, imagining their toes wiggling in the sand of rugged isolated beaches, glowing young faces warmed by sunshine. In my mind’s eye I could see them watching sunsets over the Indian Ocean, their hearts happy and full.
I couldn’t stop looking at him, soaking him in for these last hours. I was taken back a few months ago to when his brother set off on a similar adventure following the Pacific Ocean and was reminded how fleeting our time is, nurturing them and preparing them for the world.
Things went quickly from there as he rushed inside and out packing last necessities and triple checking everything and grabbing a few last supplies from the fridge including some meals I’d cooked for him, vacuum packed for safe keeping. Ensconced in his home on wheels for the next while, he set off from home for the last time for who knows how long, us following along for last goodbyes at the home of his girlfriend.
Greeted by birdsong of magpies and kookaburras coming from high in the eucalyptus canopy above, our Boy, his girl and her family gathered in the driveway in high anticipation as the minutes ticked down to departure. All chatting amicably, parents avoiding the inevitable, the travellers signalled the time for goodbyes. Many tears many many hugs and many orders to drive safely, travel well, look after each other… all the wishes and all the anxieties bubbling forth while tears were wiped and extra hugs snatched…. and off they roared, up the hill into the yonder to visit all the dots along the map of their imaginings and follow the sun and their hearts and dreams.
Related: Where Are You In Your Family Photos?
I was immeasurably proud that night, a little melancholy, but proud. Proud of the strong, resilient, caring and capable men our boys have become. Though they feel far away they’re in my heart.
That night, we all sat down to a dinner of the other half of one of the meals in those vacuum packs. A Lamb and Carrot Tandoor Masala Curry split in two, shared by us and them apart but together and in my heart I felt just a little closer, and the goodbye a little easier.
I hope you enjoyed Sally’s story as much as we did! This Mother’s Day, we hope it inspires you to not only capture some memories in photos, but to get in the frame yourself. If you do, please come and share on Instagram and tag @clicklovegrow, we’d love to see them!
If you want to learn how to master your camera in manual mode and record your own family memories in photos you LOVE, our next Enthusiast Photography Course is starting soon and I’d love to help you achieve your goal! Click HERE to find out more and save your seat.
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