Whenever an old high school chum sends me a friend request, I run to her Facebook page to see what she looks like now, and (fine, I can admit this), how I look in comparison. Has she also traded in her Sun-In for Gray Away? Would I still recognize her without her Champion sweatshirt and spiral perm held up by eight cans of Aqua Net?
Often, these women will have a snapshot of their kids as their profile picture, and they are noticeably absent from all their online albums too. Where have all my old friends gone since becoming moms? Our biggest complaint is that we feel invisible, yet we’re the ones who have taken ourselves out of the picture.
I’m just as guilty. When my husband comes at me with the camera, I swat him away like I’m Kanye lunging at the paparazzi. The only way I will willingly be in a photo is if my hair, makeup and outfit are perfect and I’m in lighting that flatters. Which, let’s face it, in daily mom life happens never. My hubby would have a better chance catching Bigfoot on film, or a unicorn that poops rainbows.
And I’m still a diva when it’s a special occasion. “All pics of me need prior approval before they can be posted,” I tell family members. I have to crop, edit, retouch and filter the shit out of any shot that I don’t delete. I’m so hell bent on staging just the right moment that my face is missing from all the moments that matter.
This point was hammered home to me at my sister-in-law’s wedding, when the photographer aimed her lens towards my children and I tried to weasel out of the frame. “You need to be in the family photos,” she implored. “One day, your kids are going to look back through old albums and want to remember all the times they shared with their mom. Be in the picture for them.”
Gulp. How true. I work so hard to be here for my kids, yet I’m leaving behind little proof. I should be gladly documenting all these memories, even the messy ones, but I’ve been missing the bigger picture.
When I look back at the few childhood photos my own mother actually appears in,
I don’t see dark circles or bad hair days. I see the love in her eyes, the joy in her smile, and I remember how much fun we were having. I didn’t care that she didn’t look like a movie star, she was the star of my world.
Our sons need to see how young and happy their moms were. We need to show our daughters the inner beauty that comes from self-acceptance and confidence.
But it’s not just about our children. One day, we’re going to look back at these photos with appreciation for our former selves and wonder what the hell we were complaining about. And, when we come out from behind the scenes and get in front of the camera, it sends the message that moms are people too, that we are important.
So put yourself front and center where you belong and strike a pose for the mamarazzi. Let your kids snap silly selfies and go ahead and share them, even those imperfect pics. A messy mom is better than an invisible one.