Monday, October 22, 2012

Picture Perfect

This article has been making it's way around the internet.  I read it a couple of weeks ago and since then I have mentioned it in conversations with varying people more than a couple of times.  I've read follow up articles and I just can't seem to stop thinking about it.  The article is entitled "the mom stays in the picture" and it's all about a mom who realizes that she doesn't have pictures of her with her kids.  As I scanned the article looking for a perfect quote I was seriously tempted to just quote the whole thing.  It's a good article and if you have a love/hate relationship with your body or you find yourself always being the person behind the camera you should read it.

Here's a little snippit.

I'm everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won't be here -- and I don't know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now -- but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother.
When I look at pictures of my own mother, I don't look at cellulite or hair debacles. I just see her -- her kind eyes, her open-mouthed, joyful smile, her familiar clothes. That's the mother I remember. My mother's body is the vessel that carries all the memories of my childhood. I always loved that her stomach was soft, her skin freckled, her fingers long. I didn't care that she didn't look like a model. She was my mama.
So when all is said and done, if I can't do it for myself, I want to do it for my kids. I want to be in the picture, to give them that visual memory of me. I want them to see how much I am here, how my body looks wrapped around them in a hug, how loved they are.

There are more than 700 pictures on my phone.  I am in less than 20 (and half of those have bee taken since I read the article and decided that I was going to better document my involvement in my children's lives). What's most horrifying is that I know there were more than that.  I regularly scan my phone and have been known to erase photos that are unflattering and videos where I sound annoying.

And the experiment to take more pictures with me in them (and not erase them when I look chubby or awkward) has been humbling and not very pretty.  There are lots of shots that look like this:

There I am with some part of the family holding my phone out at arms length trying to get us all in the shot as well as capture a little bit of the scenery (you can see that I've been a little obsessed with the changing colors this fall.  It's the first fall that I've seen in 3 years and you better believe I'm going to enjoy it).

There are shots that are just horrible.  

Like this TOTALLY unflattering picture.  Scarry hair and face and no makeup, bags under my eyes and huge diet coke in front of me.  But here's the thing about that picture.  There is something valuable there for my kids to learn from this picture.  I hope when they see it they won't focus on the scary view of mom but will see that even after what was clearly a long night when I was living on diet coke we were still snuggling and smiling together (or trying to smile in my case)

And shots that are so dark you can hardly make out who is there.

But I'm not erasing the bad ones even though I really want to because like Allison Tate I want my kids to have photographic evidence of what their childhood was like.  Of what it was like to have a mom who stayed home with them and was almost annoyingly involved in their lives.  I want them to know that I snuggled them and cuddled them, made silly faces with them, laughed and tickled them.  But mostly I want them to see that I love.  Love.  Love them.


  1. Love love love you. I am conducting the same experiment. And the portion that I have been trying to focus on is the fact that those pictures do not look nearly as bad to others as they do to you. I see a mom and a dear friend that I miss. That sometimes wasnt all dolled up because she just woke up or we had been up late talking about life and our plans hopes and dreams. Or you had come home from a serious bike ride. You look like you and you are beautiful, and even more importantly you look like a dedicated mother.

    And furthermore. One thing that I have learned from watching America's Next Top Model is that we look more like models if we are fresh faced and natural. So work it.

  2. Loved her article, and love your application of it! Lovely pictures!

  3. This is fantastic. And so true.

    Also, I'm not sure if you realized it yet, but you seem to have given birth to Nathan's mini me. :)

  4. Love it. I'm going to read the article, so this may be already said. But you are wonderful to share candid shots. It's easy for everyone to think that everyone else has a perfect life because the photos that make it on Facebook are taken by professional photographers and digitally enhanced. Of course life looks magical. I ask, how many tears did it take to get that picture-perfect family? For my family, it would be tons. Since I don't want to put them through that for the appearance of perfection, I'm happy with whatever photographs we take. They really show our real life as a young family.

  5. I have a lot of pictures like that. Kind of scary, but I don't delete them. I think it's because I'm a little paranoid I'm going to die young and my kids will actually need them to remember me. Just one of those crazy mom quirks. But good for you for doing it. First of all, you don't look as bad as you think. And secondly, in ten years, you're going to think you look AWESOME! Miss you! Jealous of the fall.