Yesterday was another one of those “WOW” moments for me as a mom, and really as a woman too. A lot of my mom friends we sharing an article from the Huffington Post, called “Mom Stays in the Picture”. I read the article and it really hit me, I am guilty of doing the same things as this woman. I have very minimal pictures of myself with my children and of just myself for that matter. I used to LOVE taking pictures, I also used to be much thinner.
The background of this teachable moment starts with my own childhood. I was always a slim child. I was very active, played multiple sports and ate a home cooked meal every night. My mom cooked healthy well balanced meals for us and we ate as a family most nights. Weight was never something I worried about or even thought about, both of my parents are healthy and active and are not overweight. Weight was never really something we discussed in our house while I was growing up. My mom was always in pictures and we took family photos every fall for our Christmas card. I have pictures of me with my mom at every age. I have one favorite picture of me on or around my first birthday sitting on my mom’s lap holding a new white kitty stuffed animal. My mom’s face isn’t even in the picture, its from her neck down, just her chest, stomach and legs, but I love this picture because I am sitting on my mom’s lap and look so happy and secure.
We can all admit that society, social media and technology have changed the perception of beauty in America and sadly has put such a burden on young mothers (not just young mothers but this is where I relate). We don’t want to be in pictures, we don’t want to see the pictorial “evidence” of what pregnancy and child birth did to our young bodies. I have almost NO pictures of myself pregnant with either child, I didn’t do the weekly belly photos because I felt embarrassed about how I looked. I look back now and am so sad that I have so few photos to show the girls when they are older and starting their own families and want to see pictures of me pregnant with them. In their infanthood and early toddlerhood I have focused more on taking pictures of them and all their cuteness than I did on being in pictures with them. The pictures I do have that include me I have always looked at with a cringe on my face on how I look.
I don’t want to teach my daughters that their weight has any bearing on their beauty. I need to be in pictures whether I am comfortable or not, I need to make these lasting memories with my girls and for my girls. I want them to have the pictures I have with my own mother that I look at with such love and happiness, that give me such a warm heart remembering all the memories I created with my mother. I want them to learn that these extra pounds, and soft parts of my body are not even an afterthought when compared to what they have given me. I need to learn to live comfortable in my own skin so I can teach them how to do the same, so I can protect these beautiful little girls from the harsh judgment of society. My own mother did such an amazing job, giving me such confidence in myself, but the world is a different place than it was when I was little and the world will be different when my daughters are closing in on their 31st birthdays and I hope that I can teach them the wonderful lessons my own mother taught me, that beauty and self worth have nothing to do with the number on a scale or the number sewn into the back of your jeans.
I think this can be a big part of my pledge to be 100% present for my daughters. I need to learn not only to let go of the little distractions of life, but also not to let myself be distracted by the demands of society. I need to not obsess about my weight or pant size and focus on being healthy for my kids no matter what the scale says. The stress of trying to fit the profile of an attractive woman does affect the way that I parent, it’s a distraction from giving them my all and that is not acceptable to me anymore. I will be in the picture, no matter my pant size. The lumps, and sags and dimples I have now are marks of love, marks of the amazing miracle that is pregnancy and breastfeeding my babies. The pictures where my breasts may take over my whole body because I was growing life or providing milk for my infant daughters should be celebrated not hidden out of shame. What world do we live in that we cause shame to women who have given their bodies to continue life and the bigger question becomes….How do we change it for all our daughters?
Here are some mother daughter pictures to finish this off.