Yesterday, I had an interaction with a fellow mom that broke my heart. I was out with my family, on a typical family outing. We paused for the chance to take a photo of us as a family. Just a little cell phone photo, nothing fancy. There was another mom there, alone, with her little kiddo. Maybe she was a single mom. Maybe her husband just happened to be out of town. I’m not going to presume anything. She also paused to take a photo, but just a photo of her kiddo. My sweet husband, as he always does, offers to take her phone and snap a photo of her and her kid together.
Her response… oh her response. This is what broke my heart. It was a polite “no thank you.” followed by a subtle “I always hate photos of myself” ugh. ouch. I honestly teared up a little. Because you know what, I don’t always love photos of myself. In fact sometimes I really hate them. But its not about me. Its not about me having or not having the perfect body, or glorious hair, or incredible outfit, or flawless skin or any other list of flaws we can dwell on in photos. I know they are there. I know you see them and you scrutinize them. I know you judge yourself and sometimes hate looking in the mirror. To have it on paper or print seems even worse. I know this cause I feel those things too. I’m not in the best shape of my life, my face has been in constant breakout since I stopped breast feeding my second child and ninety percent of the time I am in sweats and a messy bun with no makeup. When I look at a photo of me and my family, those are not the things I see.
What do I see? I see my girls gazing up at me with love in their eyes. I see their little hands grasping my shirt or snuggling into my neck for security. I see laughter in my husbands eyes. I see their snuggles, and their nuzzles, and our love. I see how much I yearn for them to stay little forever. I see a mom who is tired, yes, but also so full of joy and love and heart that is about ready to explode. I see them 20 years from now looking through these photos and seeing their mom and dad as young new parents. I see them 30 years from now seeing themselves in these roles, in awe of who their mom used to be. I see them 50-60 years from now after I am long gone, knowing they have these moments of their childhood captured with their parents that they can hold and cherish and maybe will help trigger a special memory for them. Is this getting morbid?
My point is, I don’t care if you don’t like having your photo taken. I don’t care if you hate every photo of yourself you have ever seen. I will take it as a challenge to take the most stunningly flattering photo of you I possibly can and if I fail, I’m sorry. Its not about you. Its about them. Its about your family as a unit. Its about how time will never actually stop and those kids will never stop growing. Its about embracing who you are and loving yourself so you can also love them. Do it for them. I think you are beautiful. They think you are beautiful. Even if you can’t see it, yet.
*photo of me and my girls by Annie Groves Photography when I wasn’t feeling perfect or beautiful, but when I look at that I don’t remember how I felt. I remember these little girls and how full my heart was.*