How many times have you dodged being in a photo?
Or maybe the better question — how many photos have you actually been in during the past year?
If you’re a mother like me, and Huffington Post blogger Amanda Tate, I’m guessing that number is on the lower side.
In an Oct. 6 post, Tate wrote about just that, garnering national media attention and inspiring mothers everywhere to “get in the picture.”
In the article, Tate wrote with humor, passion and emotion about the challenge that we, as mothers, have with taking photos of ourselves.
“We’re sporting mama bodies and we’re not as young as we used to be. We don’t always have time to blow dry our hair, apply make-up, perhaps even bathe,” she wrote. “The kids are so much cuter than we are; better to just take their pictures, we think.”
I can more than relate. Some people who knew me before I had children see me today and hardly recognize the woman I’ve become. My cute clothes don’t fit anymore, and some days it’s a struggle just to look presentable for the world outside our home. It takes a toll on a person’s confidence, and therefore, desire to be in photos.
But, Tate wrote, we need to make an effort to get in the picture. If we don’t, we’re depriving our children of the memory that we were even there.
“Too much of a mama’s life goes undocumented and unseen. People, including my children, don’t see the way I make sure my kids’ favorite stuffed animals are on their beds at night. ... They don’t see me tossing and turning in bed wondering if I am doing an OK job as a mother, if they are OK in their schools, where we should take them for a vacation, what we should do for their birthdays ... They don’t see any of that.
“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 30 or 40 or 50 years from now — but I want them to have pictures of me. ... I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother.”
When I finished reading the article the first time, I was teary-eyed. By the time I finished reading it to my mother — someone who needed to hear it as much as I did — I was flat out weeping. We both were.
Unfortunately, we don’t have many photos of her with her grandchildren because of the very reasons Tate mentions. But just as my children don’t see my insecurities in photos, I don’t see hers, either. She does, but I don’t.
I only see my mom — the woman who gave birth to me, who loved me unconditionally all my life. The woman who fought for me, through a messy divorce and financial hardships and crummy people. The woman who held my hair when I got drunk for the first time. The woman to whom I owe nearly all of my success in life. I see her, just as I’ve always known her.
And that’s what your children will see, too, when they look at you years down the road in photos.
Get the picture?
Meagan Patton-Paulson is Herald Connections Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org