Every Christmas, I set out albums of our family celebrating Christmas together. This tradition is one of my kids’ favorites, because they love to remember years past. They enjoy seeing how they have grown and how others have changed. One year, my middle child made the observation that Mommy was missing from a few of the albums. I laughed, and said, “Well, Mommy is missing because she is busy taking the pictures.” This was only half true.
The full truth is I was missing from the photographs because I thought I was “fat” and didn’t want to be in the pictures, so I hid behind the camera instead.
I regret these years big time. I see albums full of my babies when they were tiny, nestled in the arms of their Daddy, on the knee of their Grandpa. Visiting with Nana & Papa and making cookies with their Gammy and Aunt, but rarely were there any of me.
I get emails from clients who share in this same sentiment, “I just want photos of my kids. I need to lose weight before we do family shots.” and “I want to take family pictures, but have gained so much weight, I want to wait till I lose a few pounds.” It breaks my heart. I wonder if they have albums of their children’s early years that look a lot like mine…missing Mommy.
Mothers, why do we do this to ourselves? We take photos of our children because they change so fast! We want to have these photographs as a keepsake to remember the joys that they brought to us through motherhood. A photograph can freeze time. Where are you in them? Fast forward to the day your children become adults and have babies of their own.
They will look back on your relationship with them and reflect on how beautiful you were as their mother. They will want photos to remember the beauty of their life with you.
One day, you will leave this world. Will your children have a special photo of you with them? Will they be reminded of the way you held them? Will they be hit with the smell of the perfume you used to wear when they come across a photo of you holding them tightly against your chest? Will they come across a photo of you wrapped up in their Daddy’s arms, and remember how he used to chase you around the house popping you with dish towels? Will they have images of you that will spark precious memories of having you in their lives? Do you think when this season comes in their lives they are going to look back at photos and see you as “fat” or simply as their beautiful Mother?
I came across a photo of me being goofy with my girls and a good friend of mine. I remember the day well. I did not want to take the picture because I was “fat”. I decided to go ahead and do it anyways, because she was visiting, and it was her camera. I probably wouldn’t see the pictures again anyways! She sent me this photo several years after the fact. After the baby weight was gone. After the “fat” goggles I blinded myself with were removed. I didn’t see fat. I didn’t see a tired mom with dark circles and bags under her eyes. I saw vibrancy! I saw life! I was brought back to the fun we had the day we took the photo. I saw a moment frozen in time that made me smile. And my skin! My complexion was great! Far better than what it is now, because for some reason, my thirty-year old face has decided to go through puberty! Moms! We are constantly changing.
If we do not have a good grasp on what healthy self esteem is, we will always find reasons to shy away from the camera. Something will always be wrong. Another year of Mom missing from family photos.
If we lose the weight, we may harp on our wrinkles, or our adult acne, or our hair, or our bat-wing arms. Just as our children change from year to year, we do too, and that’s ok! That’s life! That’s what makes looking back on the changes so fun.
Get back in front of the camera. Book that family photo session, and take the time to have a special photo snapped of you with your kids, and with your husband. You are a light to your family. Allow your husband to grab the camera and snap a pic of you on the floor playing with your toddler, and don’t go back and delete it because of a self esteem issue! Give it a few years. You will look back on that photo and see a precious memory. Not weight. Not hair. Not acne. Not wrinkles.
Don’t hide from the camera.
Fill your walls and albums with your family and yourself.
You are a beautiful woman. You are an extraordinary wife. You were chosen for the important task of motherhood. You are doing an amazing job! Baby weight and all! To your husband, you are wonder woman. To your children, you are everything. Don’t take away who you are to them by shying away from the camera. Remind yourself why you take photos of them. To freeze a point in time to reflect on when its gone. This is the same reason why they want to see photos of you. Where will you be in the memories?