A couple of months ago, I was asked to send a photo to someone for an article. The photo needed to be of me and the kids. Hours of searching through the many, many photos I have saved (and I am talking thousands!) and all the pictures on Facebook proved pointless. There wasn’t any. Not a single photo of the three boys and me. We had to try and get one really quickly on the sofa, in really poor light.
In fact, other than the odd selfie, there weren’t many photos of me at all. I’m the one taking the photographs. I’m the one snapping away with my camera or my iPhone. I take a ridiculous amount of pictures, wanting to document and remember all the moments of our lives. As a child, I used to love nothing better than getting the photos out and pouring over them, remembering when they were taken and talking about them. As an adult, it’s even more amazing to look back on family photos. I want the kids to be able to do that. But what’s the point when one member of the family – me – is missing in them? As their mum, I’m obviously a huge part of their lives, but to look at the photos you wouldn’t even know I existed. It broke my heart to see that there were so few photos of me with the kids, and only one of all five of us together.
A lot of it is my fault. I know if I shoved my camera in Graham’s hand and told him to take a photo, he would. I know if we were out with my family and I asked them to take a photo, they would. But I don’t ask, and actively avoid being in front of the camera rather than behind it. I hate the way I look. When I take a selfie, I can control the angle and make sure it is flattering. When someone else takes it, they inevitably catch the rolls of fat, my double chin, my flabby arms. With everything put on social media, the last thing I want is hideous photos of me.
That’s pretty ridiculous when you think about it. When I look at photos of my friends with their families, I never, ever see their imperfections or their wobbly bits. I see how lovely their children are, how happy they look. I’m jealous that they captured that moment of time with all of them there, for it to be looked back on in 20, 30, 40 years. When they are gone, and their children are showing their children or even their grandchildren, they will be there in the photo to talk about. They will know what their grandmother/great grandmother looked like thanks to pictures. My kids won’t look at those photos in the future and say ‘god, didn’t she have fat arms?’ or ‘Look at that double chin’. No, they’ll look back and say ‘Oh, remember that day at the seaside?’.
When we were on holiday last week, I made it my aim to make sure we had at least one photo of all of us together. As it turns out, it’s a gorgeous photo. Instead of looking it and seeing my rolls of fat or my wobbly bingo wings, I see three beautiful children standing with their proud mum and dad in beautiful surroundings.
I was also really pleased to see that my mum and dad got a couple of very natural photos of us all together in the park. They’re taken from a distance, and aren’t the clearest of pictures, but it’s of all of us, doing something together.
I’m determined from now on, there will be more photos with me in them. I’m a part of the family, and I should be a part of the photos.