Don’t Delete Yourself From Their Childhood Memories

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I was knee deep in salt water with my camera slung around my arm. My sunglasses were poised on my forehead, so I could get a clearer view. I was watching my family play through the lens – something I do often when I’m hoping to capture the short, magical moments of childhood.

They were having a wonderful time jumping into the waves, splashing and trying to catch little fish. They all had big smiles on their faces and were surely making memories that would last a lifetime.

As I was standing there someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Do you want me to take a photo of all four of you?” asked a stranger.

The lady looked like an older version of every mom. Hat on her head, sunglasses covering her eyes, skin a bit more leathery from age and body just a bit saggier from carrying babies throughout her life. She reminded me of me in 10 years.

“Um, that’s ok,” I said hesitating.

 

childhood memories - The Everyday Mom Life




I haven’t been anxious to get in front of the camera this year – at all. I haven’t been able to run, or do any exercise really, in months due to a knee injury and it’s been making me incredibly self-conscious. I’ve completely resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never be a thin mom/woman but I like to at least be fit. This year I feel nothing but flabby.

That morning even my daughter told me that I just looked, “fine.”

“What’s that mean?” I asked her.

“Like beautiful but I say fine,” she replied.

“Oh,” I said. “So I’m beautiful and they mean the same thing?”

“Pretty much,” she said. “But they’re different.”

Could she be anymore convoluted?

“So which one am I?” I asked.

She looked me up and down. “You’re fine.”

With those honest words from an almost 6-year-old I gave up all hope of looking good that day. But I honestly didn’t care.

I had told myself on this vacation that I wouldn’t care about how I looked. That I am a real woman, who weighs a real weight, who struggles with real woman body issues and bad genes that are infused with cellulite.

I was pushing all that aside for this vacation. I wanted to have fun with my kids and not feel like I couldn’t eat fun, vacation-like foods just because the wardrobe for the week was a swimsuit.

Somewhere inside I had actually made complete piece with that because I wanted to enjoy my kids and this little break from life and the world’s expectations.

But that didn’t mean I wanted to be photographed at this most glamorous state.

“I’m more comfortable behind the camera,” I told the woman on the beach. “I’m always the one taking the pictures.”

“So was I,” she said. “So there are no pictures of me at all those moments from all those vacations.”

Internally I groaned because I knew this woman was right. I knew I needed to get into the frame, no matter how I was feeling at the moment.

My kids are still so young that it’s likely the lifetime of “memories” I was hoping they would make wouldn’t really last forever. In fact, my son who is almost 3, might not remember any of it at all.

But all of the world’s nagging perceptions were still whispering to me – you haven’t showered in three days, you’re not wearing any make-up, your hair is up in the worst messy bun in history, etc.



The kids are cuter. They are effortlessly photogenic and it seems so easy to let them be the stars of all the photographs.

But by never getting in the frame, I’ve been deleting myself from their history this summer. The problem with being on the other side of the lens is that you’re attached to the moments but you’re never a part of them.

This one-in-a-lifetime summer that will literally only happen once – when my daughter still loves to play with me, when my son still loves to hang all over me when he’s tired, where they’re both still so curious about the world and soak up everything I say to them like little seas sponges…I won’t ever get this summer back.

My son might have a few good years in him still, but my daughter…I already see her pulling away and an almost-tween attitude emerging each time she rolls her eyes at me and tells me, “Whatever.” It won’t be long before she prefers to be by herself and playing with me in the surf will be a memory – one she probably won’t even recall unless there’s photographs.

So I set the camera up for the stranger and waded out to where my family was playing.

Still feeling self-conscious, I hid a portion of my body behind this giant, obnoxiously large floaty we bought for my daughter, put one hand on my hip so my arm would look slimmer and turned my body straight toward her, almost like I was squaring off to do battle with the camera.

Then we looked and smiled, or attempted to get us all smiling and looking, and the stranger clicked away. She even turned the camera vertically to get a variety of shot of us.

I thanked her as she handed the camera back to me and then scrolled through the photos. I expected to see a chubby woman who was attempting to look and feel younger than I really am.

But I didn’t. All I saw was me – and them. There we all were, knee deep in the water, having a good time.

All in all, not bad.

childhood memories - The Everyday Mom Life

I walked back to our towels, put my camera under one and waded into the water back to my family.

We jumped into waves, sat in the surf as water splashed our faces, looked for seashells or “treasures” as my daughter calls them, kicked on boogie boards and finally walked back to the condo exhausted and happy.

Someday they will look back at the picture from today and see me – a mom with ghostly white skin who eats ice cream with them, who’s body sags a bit from breastfeeding and C-sections, who has larger than “normal” thighs handed down from generations of woman who have struggled with the same feelings of inadequacy. They’ll also see the mother that they loved – the woman who snuggles them at bedtime when they’re afraid of the dark, reads them books about faraway places to inspire their imaginations, brushes their curly hair (even when it’s a nightmare) to show them how to take care of themselves, makes them dinner every night to give their bodies nourishment, helps to clean their rooms so they can actually find their favorite toys, colors with them to get in a few moments of calm and quiet and put less time into herself to make their lives better. They’ll see it all when they look at that photograph.

The thing about those magical childhood moments is that they are short. There’s a finite amount of time where our kids still believe we are cool enough and fun enough to be a part of their lives in a way that’s engaging, impactful and beautiful.

Don’t systematically erase yourself from their history because you’re concerned about the way you look. They don’t need a glamorous, young, perfectly fit mom who won’t eat ice cream with them. It’s ok if you look, “fine.”

They just need you. Don’t delete yourself from their childhood memories.

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childhood memories - The Everyday Mom Life

 



47 COMMENTS

  1. I really needed this reminder. I am not in nearly enough of my family’s photos. It’s not that I fear the camera, it’s just that I’m usually the one taking the pictures!

  2. This is truly such an important reminder for moms! We find ourselves more often than not a the ones staging all the photos, but we NEED to get in them more!

  3. This is such a great read!! My Mom passed away the summer after I graduated high school and I have hardly any photos of my Mom because she was always the one behind the camera. I wish I had more photos of her.

  4. This is such a great post – I can imagine it is something special to have pictures of your family all together, I have to admit neither myself or my parents are good in front of the camera so we do lack photographs.

  5. I am always shy to get in family photos. But after my dad died, I did realize that the few pics I did have of him were all I had left!

  6. I feel more comfortable behind the camera too. But I’m sure later I will look back and wish I was in more family photos.

  7. I couldn’t agree more with you. I try not to be in many photos because I just don’t like the way I look in them but I’m sure it is something they’ll cherish forever!

  8. I love this! I have had to learn that it is more important that I be in the pictures. I have had to really just accept and decide to be comfortable with who I am.

  9. At first I thought your post was going to be about putting down the camera altogether, but when I continued reading and found out it was about being in the pictures with your family my heart skipped a step. How wonderful! I have never really thought about that and you are right. It is good to be in those pictures so your family will have lots of memories to look back on with you smiling with them.

  10. This is so important to remember! I had this happen one time when my hubby was taking my photo and it opened my eyes that I needed to include him some.

  11. I am the worst about taking photos! I hate having photos of me. But you are so right, my kids want pictures of me even if I do not like them!

  12. I was just having the same conversation with my mom this weekend. I don’t have a lot of pictures with her and our daughters and a lot of the time it’s because she doesn’t like how she looks. But I told her this weekend, when looking back at photos and memories no one cares how you look. They just care that you were present and you were there.

  13. This was emotional and so true. It’s so easy for us to just snap the pic on our phones, and forget about being in them. I really enjoyed this, thank you.

  14. I love this idea and it’s so timely with the summer and so much memory making to happen. I am so guilty of this myself!

  15. I can relate to this post so so much! There are only a handful of photos over the last 17 years of mom-hood of ME. And the last 10 have been “chest up only” photos! ha. Thanks for the inspiration

  16. I think this is wonderful. I’m always taking photos of my kids. I probably take at least one a day. I want to always remember moments with them.

  17. This is such an important message! I try so hard to get into every photo with my family and often have to make my husband get into them too. It’s so special to have those memories.

  18. Well the time is short and they grow up way too fast is the thing. I always get in with them. And luckily even my teens will still let me occasionally do some fun activities with them and we travel together a lot. That has changed over the years quite a bit. But we find new ways to be together. Your points is a good one. Don’t shy away from the camera. They need to see mom there too.

  19. I hear ya. I’ve always felt awkward in front of the camera and preferred to take the photos and stay behind the scenes. But you’re right, we should be in them too! PS: You look great!

  20. I have the same problem. I have a lot of photos with my family, but often, I am not in. It is a bit sad, I know. We need to relax and to have good time with our families and make a lot of photos!

  21. I have been working on this a lot lately. I hate to be in pictures because of my current body confidence issues, but I have been realizing that my kids need me in pictures so I have been sucking it up lately and jumping in.

  22. I’ve found myself asking strangers to take pictures of us all together as a family. Whenever I see one person taking a picture of their group, I always try to offer to take a picture so they’re in it too. A lot of times they’ll ask me if I want a picture too and I usually say yes!

  23. Totally relate to this! From 30-40 I think I have a handful of pics with me in them. We did lots but I took pics of other people, places and things and have no proof that *I* was actually there! Now I use the video function on my camera and shoot video to get pics from!

  24. so true! i always appreciate the pictures so much after a few years, and too often i don’t feel like taking them in the moment! =)

  25. I am so bad about this too! I have been trying to make a conscious effort to get better about it while I still can…And I think you look better than “fine”! I wish I were your size. :/ #blogcrush

  26. I just thought the other day that there were no photos of me at any of the kids birthdays this year as I was running about and taking the pictures. It is something I hadn’t thought of before, but you are right we are destroying their chance to look back if we are never shown in the photos #blogcrush

  27. Reading the build up, the photo I saw was definitely NOT what I was expecting – you look absolutely stunning! I LOVE your swimming costume and you pull it off so well!

    But I know what you mean – as you say, the kids are effortlessly photogenic – so good at just being themselves and letting us snap away with the camera. As adults, we feel awkward and overthink how we should be posing and how much to smile and are we wearing the right colours, etc, etc.

    I am always the photographer in our house because, as a blogger, it’s part of my job. It also means that on the rare occasions my hubby takes photos, I am frustrated at his lack of attention to detail or the blur of the photo.

    But you have reminded me of the importance of being in those photos and being a part of their history. Thank you. Great post!

    And someone loved it so much, they added it to the BlogCrush linky! Congratulations! Feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

  28. I feel like I have so much to say about this post, but to keep from writing a book in the comments section I will just say thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I needed to read this.

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