Whilst sorting through the many hundreds of photographs on our computer, I was struck by how many have been taken from a particular viewpoint: me at the back, watching the retreating forms of my family. The view in more recent photographs includes Sybil’s waggly tail and bushy bottom. She likes to shuttle between the child at the front (usually Matilda) and the parent at the back (usually me), checking, like a fussing school teacher, that we are all present and correct.
I love walking, so it isn’t laziness or lack of energy that means I’m relegated to the back, it’s more that I am the one with the camera, and I tend to stop along the way to photograph stuff. And, one and way and another, I’ve also fallen into the role of chief cajoler: I am there to urge the slowest member of the party (usually Martha), or the grumpier members (could be any of them, though usually only one at any given time), to keep going, whilst Joe tends to set the pace in the middle, with Sybil and whichever child is up for it (usually Matilda or Bea) streaking ahead.
This view also feels symbolic of motherhood as I see it: from the moment your children are born, they are on their journey away from you, escaping. Sometimes at high speed.