A few years ago, my mother turned 60. As a gift, we put together a book of memories and pictures of her. In the album were pictures of her life, from when she was a baby to today.
As I was going through all the pictures I had of her, I realized that there were only a few pictures of just the two of us. There were a dozen or so family shots and lots of pictures of us kids. But not many pictures of just me and my mom, or pictures of just her.
I love every single picture of my mom. In them, I see her love, her beauty, her character and so much more. The pictures bring back many memories and fill in the blanks for the memories I have faded.
Today, we have cameras on our phones and carry them everywhere we go. We take them out and document every aspect of our lives. What we eat, what we see, what we wear, what are kids are doing and many other things.
But there seems to be a trend in the pictures I see: moms are mostly missing. Moms are the ones taking the pictures and never in front of the cameras.
So I started to wonder why.
Why Am I Missing From All The Pictures?
I didn’t have to look further than my own experience as a mother to answer my question. The smartly truth is that even though I love every single picture of my mom, I hate most pictures taken of me.
Every time I see a picture of myself I see my unruly hair, my makeup free face. I see that my cloths are not in style and don’t make me look my best. I see the weight I have gained since having children and think that maybe one day it will come off. I see so many other things that I don’t particularly like about myself.
I don’t pose for pictures either. In a world where we share new and exciting things, or even things that inspire us, I feel like my life is a bit mundane. I do the same thing day in and day out. I don’t feel like there is anything in particular that needs to be documented about me.
It’s completely different than the way I feel about my children. I want to take pictures of them all day long because I see them changing right in front of me! There is nothing I want to miss about their lives and I’m afraid I’ll forget the small details. But I don’t mind forgetting the way I look, or the way I feel or what is going on with me.
When I do have my picture taken, I look at it and think: I have not changed. But that is not reality. After 9 years of marriage, this year was the first year I looked at our wedding pictures and found that we looked so young. I think I just don’t want to face the fact that time is passing and I have changed.
When I think of the lack of pictures of my mom, I feel at a loss, but when the opportunity comes for me to have a picture taken, I shy away. But, the exercise of looking through my old pictures showed me that I can’t let all my excuses keep me from having my picture taken.
I try to put myself in my daughter’s shoes 30 years from now and wonder if maybe she will wonder where all the photos of her mother are. Maybe my children will want more pictures of me and pictures of me with them.
I decided to not let my fears stop me and to let pictures be taken of me.
Because the truth is: It’s all in my head. I might not like the way I look, but it’s a lie. When my kids, or people who love me, look at pictures of me they find me beautiful and love me.
I have to remember that pictures of me are not for me. They are for my kids and other people who love me. They love seeing pictures of me because it documents my presence in their lives and that I have loved them from the start.
Even bough I may hate most pictures I am in, one day, I will be thankful for them. Maybe not today, but 3,5,10 years from now I will look back at the picture and smile. I will forget that I thought of myself as fat or ugly, and the memory will make me smile.
As the saying goes: a picture is worth a 1000 words. For me, when I look at pictures of me as a kid or even pictures from yesterday, every one of those 1000 words is a story of that day, or time. It’s a memory. One memory triggers another one and another and soon one pictures has given me a treasure trove of memories.
So I choose to have my picture taken and I hope you do as well
Bringing It Together
Set yourself up for success: if you’re like me, you have a smartphone with a camera on it. Take it with you. Not to use as a phone, but as a camera. If you can, purchase a hand held camera. These will take higher quality pictures: ones you can print, frame and display in your house.
Change your attitude: instead of shying away from pictures, deliberately take pictures of yourself with your children and your spouse on a regular basis.
Display pictures or make a scrapbook: today there are so many options for printing, pick one and just do it.
Share the love: Share the pictures you have taken with family and friends. I have only made 2 scrapbooks, but my daughters love them. They regularly ask me if we can look at them together and we then talk about the pictures.
Watch this TED Talk and be inspired
Join instagram and share the pictures. Follow other moms who post pictures of themselves.
Follow me @onedeterminelife
I recommend following @iminthephoto
Stop being afraid and start collecting memories. If not for yourself, for your children.