I don’t take very many photos of myself with my kids. Don’t get me wrong — I’m in family photos, just not very many. For me, I’m in enough for my kids to know I was there, and see that once I had fewer wrinkles and hair without strands of gray. Enough photos to show my kids what I looked like without glasses and when I was full of youth-like qualities. I don’t feel a need to populate our family photo albums with me; I also don’t always have the ability. The biggest reasons I’m not in a lot of family photos are because…
1. I don’t always have someone around to capture those moments of us.
Most of us primary parents are home with our kids all day, and there isn’t anyone else around to capture those magic moments. All we have is that time and that moment etched in our memories. You could ask another kid to snap the shot, but toddlers are not the best at photography. I mean, they think they are, but taking a picture of two of their fingers and your right butt cheek isn’t exactly a magic moment.
2. I never work the self-timer right.
Usually what happens is we all sit there until the Second Coming, waiting for the self-timer to start working before I have to go over to the camera and set it again. Then it either goes off while I’m trying to get back into the picture or when I try to reset it, thus leaving an album full of memories reminding my children that their mom is an idiot who cannot operate one of the easiest inventions known to man.
3. I refuse to buy a selfie stick.
Not only is it a reminder that we live in a crazed-selfie-obsessed world, odds are that it would only be used for getting things off high shelves, encouraging the cats to remove themselves from our area rug, and prompting my children to start a new game of “Okay, stand still while I hit you behind the knees with this thing.”
4. I don’t want to lose sentimentality.
Most of our family photos are usually captured when our kids are playing, or in moments that might be less sentimental if we jumped in for a selfie. A photo of my infant son smelling a flower as a butterfly lands on the tip of his nose loses its weight when I photobomb him throwing horns like I’m at a Metallica concert. It also scares the butterfly. Sometimes getting yourself into photos with your kids makes little sense when you’re trying to capture the essence of their individual childhoods.
5. My kids are adorable, and frankly, that’s enough for me.
To quote a very near and very dear friend of mine: “The iPhone takes my already shrewish features and amplifies them by 20 percent. The cuteness of my children is blocked out by, Oh my loving Lord, what happened to the mom?”
6. I don’t want my photo taken.
Don’t we have that right? Aren’t we allowed to want to be in the moment without being photographed? A majority of motherhood is about being immersed in the memories of your children. We don’t have to be inundated with it. Sometimes, it’s nice to step back and just let that moment be its own thing.
7. I’m better behind the camera.
I’m a way better photographer than my husband. I capture the nose-nuzzles and the soft smiles of him and our children having “moments,” while he captures the moment when someone chucks a toy at my head, and I have one eye closed, and my mouth is open like a yodeling walrus.
8. My best memories of my mom aren’t in photos.
My memories of my mom have always been with the moments that happened, like decorating Christmas cookies or swimming in the pool. There are a few photos she is in with me, but I don’t need a hundred photos to remind me that she too was once young, full of life. I still remember what she looked like when I was 7 years old, and I don’t need to keep the photos around to remind me.
9. Some of us suck at selfies.
I have not mastered the fine art of self-ifying myself. My duck lips look like I just ate a lemon, and you can see my nose hairs because, really, who has the time anymore? My kids have small heads and amazing skin, so they look good from any angle, even with a crusty milk mustache. I look like I’m posing for a driver’s license photo taken from a GoPro attached to a bird flying by. When I try to get a photo of all four of us, we have to squeeze together, and I don’t have to tell you how easy that is to do with three kids under 6 years of age. It’s not. Someone cries, someone is touching someone, and the baby runs off after biting the camera.
I have seen very few photos of my grandmother in her prime. Still, the stories she passed down to me about her raising her own kids are just as special as accompanying family photos might be — if not more. In 20 years, our kids will remember photos when they see them, but those memories we made with them together will last a lifetime without the photos to prove it.
So, next time someone pressures you to take a photo, and you’re just not feeling it, that’s okay. You can say, “Maybe next time.” Your kids will be just fine. You’ll have ample opportunity in their life to take more photos of them and them with you. More importantly, you’ll always be able to photobomb their selfies by throwing up some horns.