If someone were to ask to see my favorite photo, that would be a tough one. I have drawers and albums and frames of pictures that I love. There are the pictures of my husband holding each of our children just minutes after they were born. He looks so proud and happy.

Or there’s the one of my toddler holding his new baby sister–or that baby holding the next one or that baby holding the one after that. There are pictures of chubby cheeks covered in grape jelly and ones of delighted smiles on Christmas morning. There are pictures from birthdays and family vacations that I cherish, candid photos, and photos that are posed and staged.

My favorite photo is the one of my kids that was taken recently

My favorite photo would have to be a picture with all my of kids, and it would make sense to choose one when they were all little and adorable and wearing coordinating outfits. Or maybe it would be this one. 

I can’t stop looking at this photo of my four adult kids together. (photo via Laura Hanby Hudgens)

I recognize all the ways that this is a poor-quality photo. It’s out of focus, and no one is looking at the camera. They aren’t even all looking at each other. But I don’t care. I cannot stop looking at this picture. It’s in my phone, and I pull it up all the time. 

It was taken a few months ago at a low-key family gathering to celebrate my eldest daughter’s engagement. Her fiance is sitting nearby as well as my son’s wife, and I always love seeing all six of my kids hanging out.

The relationships that are developing between my children and their new siblings-in-law in fun for me to see. But in this moment it’s just the four original siblings who are engrossed in conversation–about what I have no idea. We’ve spent the evening eating and laughing and singing.

In so many ways it has been a magical night. I don’t know what has the four of them huddled together like this, but I do know that this picture is a picture of my dreams coming true. 

I’m one of those moms who adored having little ones. I was never in a hurry for them to outgrow particular phases or stages. I loved my life of fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, reading bedtime stories, and wrangling a lap full of clamoring children. In some ways, those years when all my children were young and we were all together nearly all the time were the best years of my life. I wanted to freeze time. 

My children are grown. They are happy. And they are friends. 

So it might seem odd that my favorite photo wouldn’t be a picture of all my babies piled into our bed or playing together in the backyard, but no. This photo, this slightly out-of-focus black and white is what all the caring and cuddling and playing were about. My children are grown. They are happy. And they are friends. 

On the other hand, maybe a picture with my husband and I in the mix should be my favorite. I have those photos too, and I adore them. But there’s something about the children alone that is, in some ways, more of an expression of what I always hoped for. They say your raise your children not to need you. Well, I don’t know about that. I am 53 years old, and I still count on my parents on a regular basis. So, while I’m fine with my children needing me less and less, I’m in no hurry to be obsolete. 

I’ve always hoped that my children become and stay close

What I do hope, what I’ve always wished for, is that my children grow to need each other more and more–for support, advice, friendship, and yes, even to complain to each other about their dad and me. And I see it already. My teenage son texts his big sisters with questions about applying for college. He calls his older brother with a hunting question.

My oldest asks “the baby” to come over and help him with his house remodel. My daughter needs her little sister to be her bridesmaid. And everyone needs my eldest daughter to run the sibling text group.

I love seeing them be grownups together.  In truth, it would be impossible to choose a single photo of my children that is my favorite. Each one captures a moment in time that I cherish. But I guess the thing that makes this one special is that it represents a future that I prayed for.  

More Great Reading:

I Just Have One Question: Where Did My Babies Go?

Laura Hanby Hudgens

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