The Missing Mama: The Struggle to Stay in the Picture

If you haven't noticed, I take a lot of pictures.  Mostly I take pictures of my handsome husband and adorable son because they are my life.  Here they are at the Bluegrass Festival, clapping for the live music and the sweet elderly couple that decided to get up and dance together at the base of the stage.

Even in simple moments I can't believe how cute he is, and I can't believe he's ours.  So taking pictures of this boy has become a major hobby for me.  

And the more little cuties the merrier!  Kirsten and I took Camden and his friend on a morning bike ride the other day, and a highlight was stopping at the mile markers to play on these antique train cars.

Although Cam rode his bike for the first little bit, the terrain proved to be too rough.  He joined Rowan in the bike trailer and Kirsten pulled them like a champ.

But unless I told you, you wouldn't know I was there.  I'm always the one behind the camera, and I like it that way.  These days I don't like seeing pictures of myself.

My hair is almost always thrown in a pony tail, my makeup is minimal, and my body isn't the same as it was pre-Mamahood.  I wear whatever clothes I don't mind getting finger paint and dirt on, and I often have play-doh under my nails.  It's not that I don't love getting dressed up; it's that it doesn't happen nearly as often as I pull a camera out.

Keep me behind the camera, I've got real cute subjects, we don't need to throw my not-as-cute self in there.  Right?

But this article from the Huffington Post last year made me realize that I still need to pop up in pictures every so often, despite however I'm feeling about my looks that day.  I want my family to know I was there, and that I was actively involved in every part of each day.  Like teaching Camden how to wink...

Or saying hi to Augustus at the Zoological Sanctuary.

Or going on raft rides with Kirsten at the lake by our house.

When Roy insists, "No, let me take the picture for once" I let him snatch the camera from me.  It's a conscious struggle, but in the end I don't pick the image that captures my best side.  I pick the one where Camden has the biggest smile.

The point is that these pictures will be Camden's proof that I was once young, and I was always right there in the middle of the action.  He doesn't care that I usually abandon all sense of fashion, or that my hair isn't perfectly coiffed.  I know this because of how I feel about my mom, who faces the same insecurities.

Everything she considered imperfect, I love about her because she's my mom.  And besides, women are too hard on themselves.  My mom has always been beautiful, but she's never seems to believe it.  It's a weird cultural burden we place on ourselves, to continually scrutinize our looks.  Starting now, I'm going to quit.

There's nothing more beautiful than capturing sweet moments of a mama doing what she does best: loving her child.  I see it in my friends and I see it in my own mom…

And sometimes I even catch a glimpse in myself, in the way I look at Camden.  
See?!  I was there, Cam!

I was there and as we paddled we sang "Row Row Row Your Boat" together.  You thought it was so funny when I splashed the paddle in the water and got myself wet.  You wanted to go "that way" so I obliged, even though it was against the wind and I'm sort of a weakling.  All the while I loved you more and more with each moment.

I was there.

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