Tracey Haider-Sprague, a home-schooling mother of two, is also the Training Director for Small Beginnings, a Lay Ministry Training Organization in Seattle, Washington where she researches, writes, teaches and counsels. She, along with her entire family, began their low-carb lifestyle in April 2003.
"He who has not Christmas in his heart
will never find it under a tree."
— Roy L. Smith
I was flipping through my family's photo albums, searching for a picture
of my mother. There were a few amber-hued photos of her holding me as a
newborn, but after that, she was conspicuously absent. Since I was busy
groaning and rolling my eyes every time she pulled the camera out, it
never occurred to me that she was always behind the lens, and rarely in
front of it.
Copyright © December 2003 Tracey Haider-Sprague and Low Carb Luxury
Once, I found her sitting on the floor, buried in a myriad
of family photos, attempting to sort them. I saw a pile of torn ones off
to the side, and never thought to look at which ones were being discarded.
I asked why she was throwing them away. She said they were "duplicates",
and trusting her, I didn't doubt her answer.
Several months after she died, I went looking for some photos of her, fearful
I couldn't recall her face or her familiar expressions. I couldn't remember
her voice either, and we had talked nearly every other day on the phone! My
mother had documented virtually every moment of our lives on film, so I had
no lack of photo albums to pore through. After several hours…after hundreds
of photographs of my family…I closed the album.
She wasn't there.
How could this be? Perhaps there were more photos at her and dad's house? I
exhaustively searched through those, and came away with next to nothing. I gave
up, realizing I'd have to be content with what little I had found.
I sat on my bed, missing her even more. It was almost as though she had never
I had already been a mother for seven years at this point, and had turned into
the maniacal mommy-photographer myself. I thoroughly enjoyed capturing my
firstborn's every move. Little did I know that I was duplicating my mother's
habit of escaping the camera lens. There was no end of excuses why I should
not be photographed, and my husband finally gave up trying after being married
to me for a few years. It wasn't until I tried to find photos of my mother that
it all fell into place.
One day I realized that if I kept this up, my children would have very little
to remember me by. Sure, they'd have memories (good ones, I hope), but pictures
are wonderful reminders when the memory inevitably fades. I didn't want my kids
to experience the same loss I felt, searching for those non-existent photos.
For me, the aversion to being photographed was always about my weight. And thinking
back, it was the same for my mom. I have known women who would literally run at
the sight of a camera aimed in their direction. My thoughts were that I didn't
want to be remembered that way… at that size. I always had it in my mind that
someday I would look "better," and then I would submit to the camera. But that
day was forever in the future. I decided the best way to avoid being photographed
was to be the photographer. I was able to successfully avoid all photos, and look
like the devoted mother and wife taking snapshots of everyone else.
Before I had even heard of Atkins, I joined one of those weight loss clubs that
require you to buy their food at enormous prices. On my first visit, the "counselor"
asked what my goals were. I broke down and cried (which I just DON'T do) and said
that I wanted there to be proof that I had lived, that I had walked this planet,
that I had had a family and that I had been loved. I wanted to be able to find
myself in pictures, and not be ashamed of myself. I wanted my children to be
able to remember me.
Even though that particular program worked only for as long as the money lasted,
it was a breakthrough for me to realize I'd been keeping myself hidden because I
was so ashamed of myself. I was not doing my family or myself any favors by
attempting to be invisible.
This is a time of year when the camera comes out a great deal. We've just had
Thanksgiving. Chanukah, Christmas, and New Years are soon to come, complete with
parties, families sitting around the dining table, and children ripping their
No matter where we all are in our weight loss journey, no matter what our issues
may be with how we look, I hope that we can all relax a bit, not run from the
camera, and let there be some proof — no matter how small — that...
yes, we were here
yes, we did walk the planet
yes, we did have friends and family
we were loved.
Title photo Copyright © 2003 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury