When we were planning Mom’s memorial service, we struggled to find pictures of her.
Throughout Mom’s life, she was never comfortable being photographed. There are very few childhood photos of her remaining (she was kind of a chubby kid, she said), and through my whole life, I recall her waving the camera away, saying she was “too fat”, or had “bad hair”, or “I look so bad in pictures!”
And now that she is gone, we only have, maybe, twenty or thirty pictures of her throughout her life. I dearly hope we find more as we keep going through her things.
My mother was a beautiful woman, but that’s not the point. She was our mom, and no matter what she looked like to herself or to the outside world, she was beautiful to us. I’m a tiny bit angry, actually, that her low self-image robbed us of the photographic memories we should be poring over now, and yet, I am leaving a similar void for my own children.
I am not a natural picture-taker to begin with, perhaps because it just wasn’t something that was a big part of our lives when I was a child. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t take enough photos of my first two kids when they were babies, and there are nearly no pictures of myself from my twenties. Now, I am in my late thirties, wondering why on earth I didn’t have more pictures taken when I was young and gorgeous. Now that I am older, with more lines and sags as the years go by, I constantly have to remind myself: I will never again look as good as I do now – take those pictures!
But feeling self-conscious in front of the camera is a habit that was taught to me from an early age by my mom’s example. I have likely taught this to my daughters, as well, but I am trying to turn it around. Thank goodness for the smart-phone that lets me snap picture after picture of my beautiful kids and post them to social media sites and my blogs to hang on to for me. Sharing these photos of my kids with the world doesn’t do anything to get myself in the picture, though. I am always comfortably behind the camera, like so many other moms.
My friend Jennifer McLellan, creator of the blog “Plus Size Mommy Memoirs” wrote this post on this subject http://plussizebirth.com/how-to-look-perfect-in-a-picture/ and it kicked off a wonderful thing called the “Capture Motherhood Campaign” . I saw her present on this topic at the Denver MommyCon this past June, and her opening words asking us what our favorite childhood photos are moved to me to tears so instantly and powerfully that I almost had to flee the room.
Of course, our most treasured photos are not the ones of ourselves, but the ones with our loved ones in them. My most treasured photos are those rare ones that my mom is in with me. Like this one.
And this one, from just a couple of years ago, when she was undergoing chemo.
My heart breaks that there aren’t many more like this, and that there are precious few photos of myself with my oldest children when they were little. But I make the commitment today to put myself in front of the camera with my kids – or without them, doing things I love to do so that they can have these memories to hold on to someday.
Here’s a little start.
I should probably lose the shades in future photos – I want my great-grandkids to know what my eyes looked like. 😉