The Mom Stays In The Picture: Allison Tate Challenges Moms To Document Mommyhood

Last week writer Allison Tate wrote a profoundly moving article for the Huffington Post when she realized there were many pictures of her young children growing up, but very few photographs of her with them. This article has been viewed over 6 million times and it’s something I have also noticed about my own life. I don’t like having my picture taken.

From Allison Tate’s wonderful piece:

I hesitated. I avoid photographic evidence of my existence these days. To be honest, I avoid even mirrors. When I see myself in pictures, it makes me wince. I know I am far from alone; I know that many of my friends also avoid the camera.

It seems logical. We’re sporting mama bodies and we’re not as young as we used to be. We don’t always have time to blow dry our hair, apply make-up, perhaps even bathe (ducking). The kids are so much cuter than we are; better to just take their pictures, we think.

But we really need to make an effort to get in the picture. Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves — women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don’t like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay?

As much as I want to just hug Allison and force her to embrace her frump, I can totally relate to avoiding the camera. My kids are adorable, my husband is gorgeous, my dog and cat are cute so who wants to see photos of me with my dumb hair and flour-dusted jeans and wrinkled shirt? But the reality is, the photographs I have of me and my parents when I was a little girl are some of my most prized possessions. I don’t notice if my mom doesn’t have perfectly-applied eyeliner or middle-aged spread or her eyes half closed in a photo. All I see when I look through these yellowing Polaroids is love. How can I deny my own kids the swarm nostalgia I feel when I look through the pictures I have of me with my parents?

Being a mom is hard. We have the pressure of raising little human into adult humans. We juggle a million tasks a day, moms who stay at home, moms who work outside the home. We are judged, we judge each other. And the sad fact is, sometimes we judge ourselves the harshest of all.

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.

What an amazingly beautiful sentiment.  I’m going to get better about this, starting today. Because I know in my heart my kids won’t care if I didn’t look perfect in the photographs they have of me hugging them. All they will see  one day is the joy in our faces depicted in a stack of old photos.

(photo:M. Rohana/shutterstock)

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    • Bludab

      I made a resolution like this recently, after losing a friend to a sudden accident. She had three preteen daughters, and an infant son, and was in the process of adopting three preschool girls out of a terrible abuse situation. There were pictures of her kids all over, and a very few of her with them; but the thing that struck me most – in all the pics of her with her kids, she found a way to be touching all of them, and she looked so happy to be there.
      I’ve decided the measure of a pic with my kids is not if I look “good”, but if I look happy. Then it’s a keeper! Flat hair, double chin, crazy eyebrows, whatever, if you can tell how much I loved my kids in that exact moment, well it’s perfect.

    • Nyx

      I loved Allison’s article, it really struck a chord with me. My beautiful baby girl is 4 months old, and this weekend was the first time I had actually appeared in a picture with her. I have lots of pictures of her by herself, with her daddy, with her cousins, but none with me. As much as I hate having my picture taken I’m so glad I’ll at least have a few of us together, and I’ll make the effort to have more taken so if she’s ever without me, she’ll know just how much I love her.

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