While scrolling through my Instagram feed, there’s a whole lot of pictures to be found of my children and the places I’ve been. There are some nature shots and memes and, weirdly, a lot of pictures of one tree that I love, all peppered with some self-conscious selfies of me looking a tad desperate to get into a photo.
But if I want my children to know that they actually did have a mother (and not just some lady who randomly handed them toast and chased them around with a hairbrush), selfies are often the only way I get into our family memory album. They are the only way I will be seen in the future as being an active participant in my own life. I really want to exist in my children’s childhoods in some tangible form other than the memories of me being that woman who wiped down countertops a lot and sometimes hid in the bathroom eating chocolate.
If I ask someone to take a family picture of us, it turns into this whole thing. The eye-rolling and grumbling begins. Oh god, someone is asking us to stand still in one place for five seconds and smile, and this is the worst thing that has ever happened to any of us. It’s as if everyone that I’m related to starts to have a contest to see who can be the biggest jackass. I love them, but they are sometimes the most annoying people I’ve ever met.
Thus, the selfies.
Here’s mom hiking with her family, taking a selfie.
Mom taking a picture of the new family van.
Here’s mom on the beach, taking a selfie.
At the lake.
Here’s mom trying any way she can to get in the freaking picture.
I’m with my kids all of the time, and yet there are barely any pictures of us together unless it’s me taking it. Moms tend to be the memory keepers and life collectors. We are the ones saying, “We are going to have a great time, and everyone is going to remember these precious times, dammit.” I organized the thing. I made the lunches. I found all of your missing stuff so we could actually leave the house. I made all of that shit magical. I deserve to be in that freaking picture.
And I kinda hate taking selfies. I’m not great at it, and it feels weird. I’m not a millennial. I don’t understand them, and I think I might be doing it wrong most of the time. Do you angle up, down, to the side? Filters? I’m old and confused, usually just pointing the damn phone at my face and hoping for the best.
So, please, someone, anyone, take my picture so that my kids won’t think my face was as big as North America. Just some pictures of what our real life looks like together, us hanging out, being a family. Candid photos. Snuggling the kids, laughing, wrestling with them, swimming with them. I promise I won’t care in 20 years that my hair wasn’t done and my makeup-less face was grinning away at the camera.
I’ll just be really excited to see an actual picture of myself that isn’t taken by myself. There I am. I was there. I had fun with them. I existed. I did more than just holler at them to stop changing their outfits a thousand times per day. I was more than just a floating head in the very front of our family’s life together.
I know I’m not alone. In 20 years, all of our kids will think that we perpetually had a phone attached to our outstretched arm, saying, “Take a picture with me! Please smile, get your tongue back in your face, no seriously stop that.”
Let’s all just make a vow to take more pictures of moms, because let’s face it, we are kinda terrible at taking pictures of ourselves.
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