Showcase: School Days
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“All these babies are born to the wrong kind of people,” sang Liz Phair. We can’t pick our family members and sometimes can’t see eye to eye with them. But whether you’re a chip off the old block or not, you share a bond with your mother unlike any other human connection. Did you know that some of your fetal cells are believed to stay in your mother for decades after your birth, and that you may also retain a batch of her cells? Perhaps that explains why she always caught you trying to sneak out or always knew when you needed a phone call.
Maybe she even knew that you didn’t really have food poisoning after your 21st birthday or think that bringing home a dog was a good idea. But in case she didn’t, you shared a series of funny, beautiful, sad, and heartwarming messages to mom. The most poignant of the set show how terribly she’s missed when all that’s left is what’s alive in you.
So even if she drives you crazy, take a minute while reading through to think of mom — and what you would, or will, say to her.
The Moms ∞
I’m sorry I made you stand in the snowy, Midwest cold. You’re such a pretty moms and I’ve exploited your early morning face before coffee, which isn’t fair at all. And you’re such a stylish moms and I’ve made a mockery of your bedhead. But you did it all for me without question — and would do it again — because you’re the best moms I could ever ask for in the whole wide world.
Photographer: Ryan Schude
I am a freelance photographer living and working out of the Forge Studio in Los Angeles.
Show, Don’t Tell ∞
I’m sorry about the lizards on the ceiling of our cheap hotel room, Mom. Sorry that we got into Mexico City on a Sunday night, without cash, and had to eat balance bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m sorry there’s no A/C anywhere we’re headed. I’m sorry about the stomach-churning bus rides through the rugged terrain of Puebla, Oaxaca, and Campeche, to the Yucatan. I’m sorry about the month you spent away from home in a country whose national language you can’t speak. But I’ve never been so proud of you. I’ve never known you like I know you now.
Our five week journey through Mexico, spent photographing archaeological sites for my thesis research, showed me your strength and humor, your adaptability and your passion. That’s what I see every time I see this shot I took of you at Mitla. So no, I wasn’t just using you for scale in this image. I love you.
Photographer: Jenna Berthiaume
My name is Jenna and I’m a tutor and [hopefully] a future grad student. I currently live in Providence, RI.
Can I Keep Him? ∞
The oh-so-familiar words from my childhood echo in my ears. “TAKE HIM RIGHT BACK TO WHERE YOU FOUND HIM!” My new friend and I retreated with our tails between our legs — mine figurative, his real. We walked together to the place we first met (no leash necessary, for he was more than content following at my heels) and went our separate ways with a simple, “Go home now … don’t follow me anymore.”
But now, I live on my own, several countries away. And this time, I get to keep him. Sorry, Mom.
Photographer: Dustin Woida
I am a professional daydreamer and amateur world changer in Playa Esterillos Oeste, Costa Rica.
Wood Floor Underneath ∞
The only thing my mom wanted for her birthday was a new wooden floor for the kitchen. Instead, my dad made a pair of flip flops from free wood samples for her to wear in the kitchen. Sorry, Mom.
Photographer: Bruce Spang
I’m a web designer, developer, and student who lives in Salem, Massachusetts.
Overnight Guests ∞
Sorry Mommy and Mama, but guys did sleep over (on the floor) at my “Start to Senior Year” party even though I told you they didn’t. I know it makes you nervous because of what could happen, but you can rest assured. It’s hard to believe that some teenagers are in control of their hormones, but my friends are — they’re good guys. I’m sorry I lied, but it meant a lot to have some of my oldest friends there. And the best part? Nothing happened!
Photographer: Hannah Moch
Hannah Moch is a high school student living in New York City. She enjoys photographing the benign and fantastical parts of her life and hopes to continue to do so as she finishes her last few months of high school and goes on to college.
You thought I was sleeping over at Karen’s house. I lied. Really, I was here, looking into the kitchen, while his sisters made breakfast. Yes, you read that correctly. I slept over at a boy’s house. Don’t worry, we didn’t do anything. I’m pretty sure he’s gay anyways, so there’s really nothing to worry about. But I did lie to you about where I was that night. Sorry Mom.
Photographer: Jamie Kraus
I am a student from Chicago, and next year I will be starting photography school at RIT.
Tequila vs. Turkey ∞
Mom, remember that one Thanksgiving a few years back when I could barely get through the first round of stuffing and cranberries without everything coming back up? Remember how we chalked it up to food poisoning and my sensitive stomach? Remember how it was also my 21st birthday the night before? I know I promised you I was going to take it easy for the family’s sake, but as this picture proves, I broke that promise.
At least now I’m older and wiser — these days I eat before I drink. Sorry, Mom.
Photographer: Jackie Jones
Jackie Jones is a writer and photographer from Orange County, California. Her work has been published in various literary collections including Counterexample Poetics, Lines+Stars, Zygote in my Coffee, and Oak Bend Review.
10 Minutes Prior to a Speeding Ticket ∞
You worked extremely hard to help me to be the first in the family to attend college, and it was your encouragement that gave me the confidence to complete graduate school. So I’m sorry that I can’t find a job and that you are still working to help support me. I’m sorry that I can’t move closer to you, but your hometown will never be mine. I’m sorry that I have no interest in giving you grandbabies. I’m sorry that I don’t call more often. I’m sorry that for your birthday this year I just sent an email. I’m sorry that you don’t know much about my life. Mostly, I’m sorry that I have yet to grow up and get my shit together. Sorry, Mom.
Photographer: Delaney HF
I conduct myself in a professional manner in the realms of architecture, historic preservation, and community planning. I pay for walls in Brooklyn, but can’t seem to stay put. Trains, planes, and automobiles are my hometown.
I’m ticklish! ∞
While vacationing in Bangkok, these orangutans were instructed to kiss my extremely ticklish mom. They sniffed her face, blew air into her ears, and generally invaded her personal space (as evidenced by her guarded posture).
I’m sorry, Mom, that I made fun of you every time someone viewed our holidays snaps!
Photographer: Magali Vaz
I am a student and blogger who loves photography!
Drifting in Laughter ∞
We’re only a family of three, and yet we all live in different countries. I moved to the States when I was sixteen, my father, a pilot, lives in Saudi Arabia half of the time, and my mother holds down the fort in our home in the Phillippines. But on this warm, breezy day we found ourselves floating down a river and enjoying a rare moment of togetherness. As we sat there, drifting in laughter, I gazed at my mother — looking cute in her straw hat, blue outfit, and painted toenails — and I felt sorry. Sorry that I didn’t call her enough, sorry that I burdened her with my moodiness, sorry that I couldn’t make her this happy more often. Mom is moving to the US soon, and I plan to make it up to her.
Photographer: Katrina Villanueva
Katrina, a 25-year-old Brooklynite, studied Visual Arts and is currently exploring outlets for her passion in design, fashion, food, travel and culture.
Eat Your Vegetables ∞
As a child I devoured candy and sugar-packed cereal like there was no tomorrow — all to my mother’s dismay. I remember hating the fact that I had to eat fresh fruit and vegetables for lunch instead of the ever-so-popular Chef Boyardee ravioli. Now I can’t thank my mother enough for her dedication. When I come home, I cherish my mother’s cooking, knowing that the ingredients are grown with love in her 3000-square-foot organic garden.
Photographer: Magera Holton
I am a designer based in San Francisco, but Austin will always be home.
Weight of Worry ∞
In retrospect, I was oblivious to the agony I put my mom through: countless nights of wait and worry over what I was doing and when I’d return home, while I was busy believing that I was invincible. It took being a mom to finally get it. Though my children are a mere three and six years old, there is premonition in their daring. I know that one day it will be me carrying that weight of worry on my back. But for now, I will savor them and pray that they survive the bravado of their youth to become parents to children of their own, who will remind them of how fragile invincibility can be.
Photographer: Lori Snyder
I am a freelance photographer in Gardners, Pennsylvania, and am privileged to share this life with my husband and two wildly wonderful little boys.
Logan’s Room ∞
Sorry, Mom, for never cleaning my room when you asked me to. It looked like chaos to you, but to me everything was organized — just not in a way that you understood. It was the time between when you took care of me and when I would take care of myself, a time when our ideals were polar opposite. You always said you wished you had taken a picture of my room. This is a picture of my daughter’s room, taken right before she entered adulthood and became a mother herself. No apologies.
Photographer: Aimee Quesada
I am an artist, photographer, and web designer in Brooklyn.
Heart of Gold ∞
You are the strongest person I know. Your past has shown how much dedication a mother can have and yet still provide a fun and memorable childhood. Even today your dog wants to be as close as possible, because the warmth of your heart still radiates. I think this is beautiful just like you are. I love you forever.
Photographer: Jaimie Lorenzut
I study communications design (with a minor in advertising and public relations) at Kutztown University.
Can’t Let Go ∞
This photo was taken a few months after you and Dad adopted me. You were beautiful and elegant, and you spoiled me and never let me out of your sight. Ten years later the cancer hit. They diluted you with pain killers and wouldn’t let me see you.
You loved me so much even though I wasn’t yours. You were borrowing me, but you will always be mine. I’m sorry I couldn’t say goodbye.
Photographer: Abbey Nugent-Kokosinski
I am a graphic designer and writer in Chicago.
Miss You ∞
I’ve been thinking of you more and more lately. So many reasons to be sorry: I’m sorry you had to miss my sweet sixteen, my varsity volleyball career, and my high school and college graduations. I’m sorry you didn’t see me walking down the aisle with Dad, and I’m sorry you never got to meet my wonderful husband. I’m sorry that when I have children you won’t know them. I’m sorry that you have missed so much and I can’t share it all with you. I know you would be here if you could. You didn’t want to leave and I didn’t want to say goodbye. But there is no choice when you lose a loved one. I miss you!
Love, Your little Meggie Melt
Photographer: Megan Brunow
I am a photographer moonlighting as a SharePoint Manager for a family owned janitorial business in Dallas.
Her Last Picture ∞
I’m sorry this is the last image I recorded of you. I was up to my photo tricks again, and because I was playing with light and shadow, I missed taking a picture of your infectious smile. I wish I had known it would be my last chance — I would have done better. Instead, I’m left with this ghostly reflection. I miss you.
Love, your son.
Photographer: Richard Hernandez
Stafford Court ∞
Sorry, Mom, but when we lived on that street, things changed. I found out from everyone else that Dad cheated on you, and that it was the reason why you got divorced. I hated you. But I didn’t know how to handle the grief you felt. Now, as an adult, I can’t imagine surviving what you went through. You didn’t have the strength to be there for us, and I understand now. I just missed my mom — but I forgive you.
Photographer: Addie Birdsall
I, frankly, do not know who I am, but I want to find out by getting to know Jesus.
What-choo Lookin’ At? ∞
The cancer may have your mother’s body but her soul, as you know, will take on bigger things; and her spirit will always be ours to cherish. Memories will keep her from fading and genetics will be kind enough to grant us her good looks. Sorry for your loss, Mom.
Photographer: Nicole Berger
I am currently a student majoring in photography at Northern Kentucky University.
Your Younger and Better Days ∞
Everyone adores this picture of you from the 1950s. We have been fighting Alzheimer’s with you for the past eight years and I’m sorry that we are losing the battle. I hope that you are reliving all your greatest memories from inside your silent cocoon. I am certain we will see each other on the other side and that we will continue our long conversations then. I love you.
(Editor’s note: Photo used with permission from Mark’s father, B.F. Pinkerton. B.F. took the photo shortly after marrying Mark’s mother, and now, after more than 50 years together, he is her daily care giver and in Mark’s words “still treats her as a queen.”)
Photographer: Mark Pinkerton
I am a mid-level manager with a financial services company and live in Madison, Mississippi.