When I read Allison Tate’s article, “The Mom Stays in the Picture” in the Huffington Post a couple of days ago, it struck a cord with me. Apparently, it resonated with many women; I’ve seen this article posted and shared more times than I can count, and I’m so glad. Often the busyness of life and our own lack of confidence in how we’re living that life can make us forget what’s important.

About nine years ago, one of my best friends, Libby, was killed in a car accident just ten minutes away from her one-year wedding anniversary and weeks away from delivering her first baby. The loss is more than I can even try to communicate, but I’ve tried to honor my friend by learning from her; she lived an amazingly loving 21 years.

One of the things that struck me at her funeral, was that Libby had more pictures with my daughters than I did. I remember how grateful I was, and am today, that we have all those images of her beautiful face with my kids. The thing is, she wasn’t always dressed for a photo op; often her hair was disheveled, her outfit sometimes dirty (probably from taking care of my kids), and her facial expressions weren’t always flattering–but those pictures, every one of them, are priceless to us. Since that day, I’ve tried, though often failed, to die to how I feel about how I look and think, instead, about how much my kids will treasure pictures of me with them when I can’t be with them anymore.

I hear my own thoughts as I read Allison Tate:

“I’m everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won’t be here — and I don’t know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now — but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother.

When I look at pictures of my own mother, I don’t look at cellulite or hair debacles. I just see her — her kind eyes, her open-mouthed, joyful smile, her familiar clothes. That’s the mother I remember. My mother’s body is the vessel that carries all the memories of my childhood. I always loved that her stomach was soft, her skin freckled, her fingers long. I didn’t care that she didn’t look like a model. She was my mama.

So when all is said and done, if I can’t do it for myself, I want to do it for my kids. I want to be in the picture, to give them that visual memory of me. I want them to see how much I am here, how my body looks wrapped around them in a hug, how loved they are.”

Since I began taking pictures professionally, I have always included a complimentary mother-senior shot in all my senior portrait sessions. It’s a small way I can encourage moms to “stay in the picture.”

My husband’s sister, mother, and grandmother. Three generations of love.
My grandmother on her 90th birthday with her three sons. Isn’t she beautiful?
My sisters and me with our mom…and dad. =)
Me with my four girls. Photo Credit: Brian Wasko =)

I highly recommend reading, “The Mom Stays In the Picture” by Allison Tate.

6 thoughts on “Moms.

  1. i read that article, too and it likewise ‘stuck with me’. thanks so writing what you did above, friend. can’t wait to check out this blog more in the future! much love!

  2. This is beautiful Melanie. In my favorite picture of my mom and I she is mostly bald from chemo treatments and looking a little tired. I had been having a bad day and was upset so she was making a silly face at me and I made one back right when my dad snapped the picture. It’s not a “good” picture in the sense of us being posed correctly, and having our hair and make-up done, but it is PERFECT because it captured who my mom was and how much she loved me. Now with my daughter I try to remember we aren’t promised tomorrow and if I were to die young like my mom did, I want Emma to have a visual chronical of my love for her – no matter how rough I might think I look when the picture is being taken.

    1. Thanks for that lovely comment, Keri-Rae. I loved your sweet mom and her fun-loving spirit. I’m sure you’re a great mom, just like she was. Love you!

  3. Melanie,
    Thanks for sharing this with me. It just brought me to tears thinking about my sweet Mother and the many years of blessings and memories the Lord gave to me. I miss her even though she sits right in front of me.

    Great job on the beautiful pictures.

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