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An Open Letter To The Mom Who Hates Having Her Picture Taken
I’m like you. Between my fancy-schmancy blogging camera, my phone and my tablet, there’s always a camera within reach and I literally take hundreds of pictures each month of my children. But when it comes to taking pictures of myself, there aren’t nearly as many. Scrolling through the camera you’ll find lots of pictures of the children and of food I’ve made or other things I want to post on the blog, but you won’t find a single selfie on my phone and there are very few photographs of me on the camera.
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I know I’m not alone in this. We Mamas tend to be the one behind the camera taking pictures. We rarely hand the camera over to someone else and jump into the shot. We are with our children day in and day out living life alongside them, yet there is very little photographic evidence of our daily presence in their lives.
Mama Doesn’t Feel Cute Today
There are so many reasons I don’t jump into the shot. Most of the time it’s simple vanity. I don’t look as good as I used to. I still have baby fat and my hair is going grey. Most of the time I’m sporting a mighty fancy Mama Ponytail and at any given time there could be peanut butter on my shirt from where a tired child rubbed her face.
It’s hard to feel cute when you’re wearing a nursing bra and somebody else’s lunch. For that matter, it’s hard to feel cute when your nursing bra is full of somebody else’s lunch. The children are so much cuter than I am and its easy to convince myself that the picture will look better if I’m not in it. So I just snap shots of those sweet, adorable faces and I stay behind the camera.
Take The Photo, Anyway
Life is always changing and this moment will never happen again. Tomorrow the children will be just a little bit bigger and my hair will be just a little bit more grey. The time to capture those pictures is right now! Here is the most recent picture taken of Sweet Pea and I:
When I look at this picture, I see badly brushed hair with a lot of grey in it, poor posture and more weight than I care to think about. But look closely at Sweet Pea’s face. She’s not thinking, “I sure wish this lady would lose 40 lbs.” She’s thinking, “MMM! I just LOVE my Mama and my Mama loves ME!”
By the time she is old enough to remember her childhood I will have more grey hair than I do now. One day she will look back at this picture and where I see my physical faults, she will be amazed and how young and beautiful I was. Our children (and husbands) see something different when they look at us than what the critical voices in our head tell us to see.Our children see something different when they look at us than what the critical voices in our head tell us to see. Click To Tweet
You May Not Always Have This Opportunity
Today is truly a gift and tomorrow is not promised to any of us. We just don’t know if there will be another opportunity to take that snapshot. Divorce wreaks havoc in families making family photos a near-impossibility. Parents die. Children Die. We always hope it won’t happen to us, but it happens to somebody and usually it happens without notice. I hope to live long enough to see my great-great-grandchildren, but someday I won’t be here. I don’t know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now, but it is the normal order of things for children to outlive their parents by 20 or 30 years. When that time comes, I want my family to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, to see how much I loved them and how absolutely delighted I was by them.
I want them to see how much fun we had together.
(Worst family-selfie ever! But we’re having fun at the 3-D show at the nature museum!)
The Pictures Don’t Have To Be Perfect
Snapping pictures is about documenting life. Life isn’t perfect and the pictures don’t need to be perfect either. I’m simply creating a record of the way things are so that later my children can look back and see how our family was when they were too young to take notice.
Sometimes I wonder what my children will be like as parents. When they go through the normal-overwhelm that is part of starting a family they won’t remember how overwhelmed I was in that stage. They’ll remember the Mama of older children who had their help and they might be tempted to compare the experienced version of me to the brand new parent they will be one day. Pictures that document how things really were will prove to them that I didn’t always have my act together and I didn’t always look perfectly put-together.
Here’s a snapshot Papa the Farmer took (for I-don’t-know-what-reason.) It was Vacation Bible School Week. My days consisted of wake up early, work on blog, drive to VBS, let the children eat breakfast in the car, help out at VBS, drive home, take a long nap… Not exactly stellar parenting on my part, but it was a good week. One day we’ll look back at this picture and laugh about how exhausted we all were (especially Mama).
Pictures Are A Gift To the Family and Also a Gift to Myself
As gut-wrenching as it is to think about, children don’t always outlive their parents. Accidents happen. Disease attacks. Sometimes children die and when it happens it often happens without notice. If I were to find myself without one of my precious little ones, I would treasure the photographs I have of them… and I would want to see myself in the photos with them as tangible proof that we were here, living life together day in and day out.
Come to think of it, one way or another, it is guaranteed that I won’t always have these precious little faces around me. One day sooner than I want, these little faces will be replaced by the faces of mature, grown men and women. Look at this picture. I found it on my camera and I know it happened just a few months ago, but I already don’t remember that day. There was no special occasion. This wasn’t a Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed and it wasn’t my birthday. It was just a “We Love Mama” Special Breakfast Delivery! Look closely at that breakfast. Why, yes, that IS salad and vegetables! They could have poured me a bowl of cereal but my children know that my favorite way to start the day is with a hearty vegetable meal and with the help of their father, they made one for me! If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. And now I have that memory documented. I’m so glad I didn’t say “No, you can’t take a picture! I haven’t brushed my hair yet!”
So, dear Mama… I want to encourage you to throw your self-consciousness aside. Get photos of you living life with your family! Years from now your children won’t care what your hair looked like or if you had makeup on or even if you’d taken a shower and brushed your teeth that day. You won’t be so critical on yourself either. Your family will just want to see that you were there.
Ask somebody else to take the picture once in a while.
Feeling Brave? Come join the Happy Unconventional Moms club and post a not-perfect picture… with you in it! I already posted mine and it’s hilarious!
Before You Go! There’s A Giveaway!
Mother’s Day is a day set aside for making moms feel extra special and extra appreciated. This year Mother’s Day might look a little different for some people. No heading off to church, no special brunch at your favorite place, no gathering with extended family and friends. Just because things may be different, doesn’t mean the occasion should be any less special.
I’ve gotten together with 24 of my blogging friends with the desire to bless FIVE moms this Mother’s Day and make your Mother’s Day even more memorable. (I wish we could bless each and every one of you!)
We are giving away 5 $100 gift cards to the place of your choice, from the following options:
- Hobby Lobby
- Restaurant of choice
- Grocery store of choice
It’s our hope and prayer that your family, and most importantly you sweet mama, are blessed even more so during a Mother’s Day unlike any other. May this be a time of new experiences, new traditions, and new peace.
To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Now I know that is quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers generously chipped in their own money to bring you this giveaway, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries; it will bless them in returen. And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are at winning!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway end May 8th at 11:59pm EDT. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to email to claim the prize. By entering this giveaway you will be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers. Please be sure to read the Terms & Conditions upon entering the giveaway.
Want another opportunity to win?! There is a second giveaway with the same exact prizes (just different bloggers) that you can enter as well!
I hate to have my picture taken,too! But I must say, you are much too harsh in your criticism of your own appearance. I don’t notice all the imperfections you mentioned; I see a lovely lady with a sweet smile on her face.
Thank you for your article. It changed my perspective of having my photos taken. I have never enjoyed having my pictures taken, for most of the reasons you listed. However, if I’m doing this for others, well, that is another story….
-Sandy in San Francisco
Thank you for your encouragement and reminder. This touched me so much.
Thank you for sharing this, it was something I really needed to read. I also don’t like having my picture taken–I’m generally OK with how I look (don’t have time to think about my appearance much beyond “am I dressed in something my toddler can’t easily pull open?” most days, honestly….) but then I see a photo of myself and my inner critic starts up. I think each of us is our own worst critic though–that photo you talk about, where you see badly brushed hair, etc? I don’t see that. To me it looks like a sweet moment between a mama and her little one, on a lovely windy day.
Thank you so much for sharing/writing this article. This spoke volumes to me and so grateful. Blessings.
Dori Davis says
Haven’t even finished reading the post yet. Perfect and timely. Crying in public. Thank you. Thank you.
Tia Fletcher says
I am one of those moms. I have started taking pictures especially after my hair has been done, on my phone. Therefore, I have a number of pictures of me stored on my phone.
Emily Ryan says
I couldn’t agree more! I wrote about my own mother’s death, which happened when I was still a child, and this happened to be #2 on my post: Five Everyday Choices I Make (now that I’m older than my own mother). Blessings to you all!
Good Old Days Farm says
I clicked over to your blog, and that is a beautiful, beautiful article. I’m so sorry that you lost your mother. That must be really hard. That article was amazing and I think your Mom would have been super-proud of the person you have become. ((hugs))
Thank-you. I needed to read that 🙂
I lost my son 9 years ago, and I remember thinking I wish I had more photos of my son. When you lose a child you want to hang on to everything that reminds you of that child and a photograph is like you said proof that we lived life together . I miss him every day of my life. Shortly after, I went out and bought a good camera; I have other children and a granddaughter, and I wanted to memorialize our daily lives. I do once in a while get in the shot., but not as often as I should. Thank you for this article.
your post touched my heart today.its my sisters birthday,and she died a month ago, so its a tough day for me. what touched me is ,we both hate having our photos taken, so there are very few around, but my brother in law had SOME WHICH THEY HAD TAKEN LONG AGO. AND THE PHOTO THAT i LIKED THE MOST WAS OF HER HUGGING HER HUSBAND OUTSIDE IN pj’s AND SLIPPERS, THE DAY HE SURPRISED HER WITH A CAR FOR HER BIRTHDAY. THE LOVE ON BOTH THEIR FACES IS REALLY TOUCHING. add to that the fact that my own children have taken some photos out of the albums, because they had me in them…….maybe its not to late to teach an old lady….Thank you for your touching post, and PS you look fabulous.
This is an absolutely wonderful article. I love the photos of YOU! But most of all, I love that your kids made you breakfast in bed for no special reason. That was worthy of a photo for sure!
Jennifer is the amazing author behind Thunder Jam
This is wonderful! Thank you for your words of wisdom! I used to shy away from the camera and put my hand up and frown when I saw one. However, after seeing so many bad shots of me I learned that people were going to take my picture, so I better smile and look happy because I’ve seen the alternative and it ain’t perty!! 🙂
Jenifer Ramirez says
My 10 year old daughter died last year on May 6th. It was sudden and unexpected. In my younger years I hated being in pictures. Now I wish I had more pictures with her. For the past several years I understood how important it was for me to be in photos. I’m still not in enough of them but I’m grateful I learned that lesson before it was too late.
I needed this today.