Capturing Moments

This is something I’ve never told anyone before. I remember attending my sixth form prom. I remember feeling good about the dress I was wearing and having a great time, really enjoying the night. I also remember the absolute horror and shame I felt when I saw a picture of me, taken from behind and without my knowledge, posted on social media the next day. Posted for people to laugh at and make fun of. Posted because of how I looked. I wish I had that picture now to show because in all honesty it wasn’t even that awful. But it’s moments like those that shape your self confidence, define your self worth, and become totally consuming. Something like that at an age when you are most susceptible to being caught up in other people’s views of you, it can have a serious effect.

I have never really been one for being in front of the camera. There are very few pictures of me in existence from the age of about 10. I can clearly remember my parents regularly getting cross with me for refusing to have my picture taken. At around 17 I became a little more confident but someone taking a picture of me on their camera gave me genuine anxiety. What if it was awful and I wouldn’t be able to delete it. I think I hid my self consciousness by always being the one holding the camera and taking the pictures. And for the first year or so of Dil’s life things were very much the same. I reverted back to that photographer role as a coping mechanism and a way to deal with my low self esteem. I have so many lovely pictures of Dilan with family and friends, but pictures of the two of us are rare. If someone else did snap a picture of me I would usually very quickly delete it because I didn’t like the way I looked.

Looking back now I feel really sad about that. The newborn phase is over so quickly, the whole baby stage feels like a total blur to me now. And although there are hundreds of pictures of baby Dilan, there are so few of new mama me. Capturing a moment is easier now than it has ever been before, so what’s my excuse for missing so many? Because my hair was a mess? Because I had no make up on? Did I really think that when we looked back at that photo in 10, 20, 30 years that’s what we would see? Or would we have looked past that, to see the raw, beautiful moment that it was?

I think many mothers would sympathise with how I felt. Most of us take pictures of our children daily, in an attempt to record the things we desperately want to remember. To savour the moments we wish we could press pause on. And yet most of us would cringe at the thought of being the other side of that camera. But, while we are so busy capturing these moments, aren’t a lot of the pictures missing someone important? Won’t our children want to see their mother in these lovingly preserved memories we’re working so hard on? Shouldn’t we as mothers, as nurturers raising these babies through the good and the bad, feature in these shots? The real us, the Sunday morning us, with no make up on, dancing and giggling in the kitchen. Those are the moments our babies are going to want to look back on as adults, and those are the moments we are missing due to our own insecurities.

I recently saw a study which found that 96% of women asked wouldn’t choose the word ‘beautiful’ to describe themselves. That is really sad, and here is something you need to hear; You are beautiful. You are beautiful to your friends, you are beautiful to your family, you are beautiful to your partner and, most importantly perhaps, you are beautiful to your children. Your children adore every inch of you and love all of you with everything they have. Your children don’t care if your back in your pre-baby skinny jeans, and they certainly won’t remember your muffin top when they reminisce about their childhood. In fact when they do look back they’ll see all the things you hated in such a different light, it’ll leave you wishing you’d seen yourself through their eyes.

Those wrinkles around your eyes when you smile, they’ll remember every time you smiled at them. The grey hairs that you’re horrified by now, they’ll laugh and tell stories about how much stress they caused you. The mum-tum you so badly despise, it grew them, housed them and kept them snug and safe for 9 months. Your thighs may be wider than you’d like, but when they look back that’s the lap they were most comfortable on. Your arms, bingo wings and all, carried them, rocked them and held them every time they needed you. When they look at you they see unconditional love, warmth and kindness. They see their protector, their supporter, their friend. They see strength, wisdom and gentleness. They see beauty. They see you, and to them you are the most beautiful person in the world.

Motherhood gives us many gifts. One of which should be to see ourselves as our children see us. To look past the messy hair and the extra weight or whatever you think your problem area is. When we see a photo of ourselves, lost in the moment with our loved ones, we need to look past all of those hang ups and see the true beauty. The love and the smiles on our faces, the light and the joy in our eyes. These are the things our children will remember about us, these are the only things they’ll see in old photographs. They deserve these memories and these moments to be captured and so do we. Motherhood is hard, sometimes finding the joy is easy and sometimes it’s a little harder, but when we do we owe it to ourselves to savour that moment forever.

I wish I could find those girls from my sixth form prom and tell them everything I know now. I wish I could speak to my 18 year old self and offer some comforting words. Explain to them all that how we look doesn’t define us and it certainly shouldn’t open us up to criticism of that kind. Tell them that real beauty does come from within, and being in love and becoming a mother brings that out of you in a way nothing else ever could. Make them understand that it will all seem so trivial looking back because there is just so so much more to life, so much more to come, and you can’t avoid capturing it all because of one bad photograph.


Photography by Mr. Adam Robertson

10 Comments

  1. 29th August 2016 / 2:20 pm

    Hands up emoji to so much of this! As a photographer who captures families *and* a Mother, I personally still struggle with pushing myself in front of the lens. And yet Mamas and babes are some of my favouring subjects because that connection is pure magic. I’m a work in progress!

    Thank you for writing this X

    • 29th August 2016 / 2:48 pm

      I think it’s something we all struggle with for sure, I’ve found it does get easier once you take the plunge! Just discovered your insta, looking forward to seeing more of you on the other side of the camera Xx

  2. 7th November 2016 / 1:17 pm

    What a beautifully written and powerful post. An important message for all women – from 13 to 80. We all need to remember this. I’m so glad you moved on from that experience so that we can all enjoy these gorgeous photos of you. I’m a Mum of 3 teen girls and this post made me cry – not many do, so thank you for making me stop and think this morning. Sharon xx

  3. 4th December 2016 / 12:21 pm

    Lauren that paragraph about thighs, wrinkles and bingo wings made me cry! This is such a beautifully written post and so so true. I have many more photos of Luca with other people, mainly because I’m the one always taking them and other people don’t tend to take them of us. It’s something I’m going to always keep in mind though, I don’t have many photos of me with my mum and I wish I did.
    Franki ~ Wonderful Chaos recently posted…The best ‘best friend’My Profile

  4. 4th December 2016 / 2:15 pm

    Beautiful post Lauren. That’s one of the reason we have started our YouTube channel and I have decided to not be bothered any more if I don’t look the way I think I should look. The moments with them is what we will treasure the most, regardless of overweight, hair or makeup.
    Great pics of the two of you! Xx
    Eliana recently posted…Our not so typical advent calendarMy Profile

  5. 5th December 2016 / 5:13 am

    This is such a beautiful and inspiring post. I love taking photos of my kids and capturing moments, but you are so right, we need to get behind the lens as mothers too. This has definitely inspired me to do that more. xx
    Rosie @ Little Fish recently posted…Living Arrows 48/52My Profile

  6. 9th December 2016 / 8:20 pm

    Such a great post! Just today i deleted some selfies of E and i cause i had a double chin… and now im about to go through my recently deleted and get them back! Thank you!
    Xx

  7. 4th April 2017 / 7:59 am

    Oh this is exactly what I needed. Thank you so much – your words are beautiful and hit very close to home. I’ve shared the post on my Facebook page I the hope that it inspires other Mamas to get in the frame with their kid more too.
    Chloe: Picture Taker Memory Maker recently posted…Mother’s Day 2017My Profile

  8. Stephanie
    4th April 2017 / 8:44 am

    I thought of this post yesterday, along with some of the others I’ve seen recently expressing the same sentiment. Annie had some photos done and the photographer suggested I get in some of them too. At one point Annie ran over to me, arms open for a cuddle, and they got a photo of her beaming back at the photographers as she hugged me tight. It was a lovely moment and she is beautiful in the photo and so happy but I almost didn’t include the photo in the package because I don’t like how I look in it. I rejected it quickly and only at the end added it back in because I kept thinking how happy she looked and how lovely it was to end the session with her hugging me like that, and we should have that photo. (One day I’d like to pay a bit more for a more natural shoot of our whole family as I know there’d be more of those moments than you get in a studio in a corner of Mothercare, so I might be getting in touch with Adam in the coming months!)

    • 11th April 2017 / 11:48 pm

      I’ve done the same thing so many times, and often totally miss out on a beautiful memory because of the way I look in it. It’s time to rewire our brains and realise they don’t see us the way we see ourselves, and how we look really doesn’t matter to them. Definitely give Adam a shout, candid stuff is so so lovely to do xx

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