“Take a photo with Sofia”
“Okay but don’t show me and don’t upload it”
So many times at my children’s birthdays, or events, I hesitate to take the photo. Unless it’s perfectly staged, I avoid all photographic evidence of myself.
I am going through a mum life crises. I am not a thin photogenic version of myself anymore. My skin is a vision of permanently tired. I have wrinkles in places I didn’t know existed. My hair is oily and dry because it’s never washed. My nails are dirty and uneven… I am disheveled older version of myself. I know my mum friends feel it too… we joke about how we try to get our groove back like Stella but we are just too damn tired.
But for my children… for my children I’ll take a thousand photos. I’ll put them in cute little outfits and take perfect moments. I’ll snap little candid pictures. You wouldn’t know I exist in my camera roll besides three selfies that I don’t like much anyway. You wouldn’t see any photos I took from birthdays or parties of moments of us together. Especially not taken by anyone else.
But these are the days we need to take the pictures. These are the days we need to let friends take the happy snaps of us all together. These are the days we need to not worry how the photo is going to turn out, and just smile as we hold our children in our arms. These are the days we need the proof that such love existed.
Our children need the photos. They need to see what real versions of mums look like. To see us with our oily hair and chipped nails. To see us as the women who raised them who lived real life, and not perfectly staged pictures. To see us at all our stages and not where we think we are at our best.
We as mothers need to stop avoiding the camera, need to stop being behind the scenes and the one holding it. Our lives are constantly behind the scenes. Behind the lens… but we are the star of the show too.
We are the ones who organise the parties, who stay up late baking. Who spend time organising and fretting everything will be perfect.
We are the ones who worry, whose phones’ search engines are full of parenting questions. Who stay up all night holding tiny hands through wooden bars. We are the ones who go to 5 different stores to find dinosaur chicken nuggets and spend $150 on shoes that’ll wear for 3 months, when we are still wearing the same bra from 3 years ago.
We are constantly undocumented and un-photographed… especially in those moments of vulnerability.
When I look at the few pictures of my mother, the perfect pictures of 70’s and 80’s with the fashion and the smoking and the flares… I am in awe. I look back at her beauty. I look at her in her youth. Her soft face and full lips and dark hair. I admire her. I don’t see wrinkles, or oily hair, or chipped nails. I see the woman who birthed me. I saw her as the most beautiful woman in the world.
So let your children see that. See the woman who birthed them. The woman who loves them and spent all night baking… who searched high and low for the perfect outfit for them. Who didn’t sit down all day to make sure everyone remembered the party as one of the best.
Let them see you. See the days where your think your old but you’re really not. See where they got their jet black hair from, and dark rounded eyes, see how they have the same half smile like you do.
Print the photos of moments after birth, print the photos of you at their first birthday where you barely survived the 365 days of your life being turned upside down.
Take the photos… take the photo. You have been everywhere with them since the day they were born, so show them. Let them relive it with you, because one day you won’t be there, and all they will have is the memories of those moments.
No matter how imperfect you think you look, you are the most perfect to them and when they hold those photos up they’ll see a woman whose love was unconditional, a beautiful woman, a strong woman, a woman to be admired.