Out of the Picture

It’s my very first, oh-so-long-awaited Mother’s Day. And there we are, posing for the camera: my sister, Anna, nine-month-old Ellie perched on my Mom’s lap, smiling at the photographer. Her perfect, chubby little hand pats my arm, as if to say, “Yeah! This one is my Mom!”

And if you look very closely at the crisp little red-and-white-checked dress her grandma made for her, you’ll see two tiny, round, white buttons with candy-red hearts in the center sewn on between the waist and collar. I can picture my mom at the fabric store, delighted to discover she could top off her Mother’s Day creation with such a tangible symbol of love. But focus in even more closely, looking at the crisp white collar edged in red stitching, and you’ll notice my favorite part of this photo–my favorite because of the story it tells. The little scallop shape at the front of the collar is missing. It’s missing because this sweet little dress is on backward!

You see, while I was ambling through lush Marin County gardens on a tour with my Mom and Anna that morning, Steve was home feeding and bathing Ellie, then dressing her up in her new outfit, complete with sturdy white shoes and anklets. Given his relative inexperience with the often complex protocol for baby girls’ dresses, he had assumed it would only be logical for those tiny red heart buttons to go in the front for all to see.

So when I look at this photo, I see the man behind the camera who was so pleased to celebrate Ellie’s presence in our lives and honor me with a little time off to recharge, followed by lunch all together at my favorite Chinese restaurant. I can see him standing up, calling Ellie’s name, grinning and chuckling as he mugged behind the camera to get her attention.

It was a perfect moment captured in this picture. And in the little backward dress, I see Steve’s generous love for me, for us.

Thank God for this photo and for the man behind the camera.

Happy Father’s Day, Steve.