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