If you scroll through my Instagram feed you’ll see way, way too many pictures of my kid. What you won’t see are very many pictures of me. I’ve never been one to put myself in front of the camera, as in general I’m a shy, introverted person. Jumping in front of the lens has never appealed to me, but as I’ve gotten older and the perpetual exhaustion of parenthood has written itself across my face, I most definitely shy away from capturing myself in any kind of permanent image. For awhile, I would physically shudder at the reflection of my aging, worn-out features as I glanced at the pictures I’d snapped on my phone. Luckily, I eventually realized the ridiculousness of such a reaction. I care much more about my son and my experience through parenthood so far than I do about what my face looks like now. My photos aren’t trying to capture physical beauty; they’re capturing the beauty of our life. Our real, messy, not always beautiful life. The good stuff.
Will I snap a haphazard picture of myself, frame it, and hang it on the wall? Probably not. But I will take pictures of myself with my son and with my family. I won’t fail to see the beauty in a photograph that freezes a moment in time with my son, that suspends a memory in a more permanent way than my ever-forgetful mommy brain can handle. I’m not looking at the wrinkles, creases, or discolorations left over from pregnancy. I’m not looking at sun damage or bad hair or a lack of makeup. I’m seeing the joy in our eyes, the lines that are there from so much laughing and smiling. The messy hair and lack of mascara because I was too busy playing and wrestling and enjoying those spare few minutes with my rapidly growing baby boy, who already isn’t a baby at all.
I want my son to see what we enjoyed together, how we spent our days, and how much love we have for one another. I don’t want him to see what isn’t there — a lack of pictures of his mom because she doesn’t like to see herself. I want him to grow up being proud of who he is and not putting stock in what he looks like. Just because he’s not a girl doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be worried about the message I’m sending. Somewhere deep in there, I’m framing how he sees both himself and others, and I don’t want something silly like a little getting older getting in the way of that.
I look at pictures of my friends, all who have also gotten older, some who are wearing the weariness of motherhood on their faces, and never would I think they are not beautiful or that they should not be posting pictures of themselves. It’s only fair to give myself the same respect and see past what could be considered flaws, but will instead view as triumphs. Marks of the wonderful life we’ve created and the years worth of experiences we’ve accumulated.
Image source: Heather NealMore On