Not long ago, I read a blog about a mom who realized that of all the pictures taken in the last year or so, she wasn't in any of them. She was the picture taker. The family historian. The scrapbook paster and memory maker.
She was also afraid of seeing what she had become over time, immortalized in pictures.
It was easier to take the pictures and admire her family and friends, then to be in the pictures herself and face the ravages of time and weight and failure to put on lipstick.
This is me.
I am also the picture taker and the family historian. I got a rockin' camera for Christmas a few years ago, and learned how to take some fairly decent pictures with it. Nothing amazing or professional, but some really nice photos. Photos of the kiddos and their friends sledding. Of the kiddos and MacGyver when we've been on vacation. Of the rest of the family at the beach. Or the backyard. Or the park. Or the pool.
And not one of those pictures, in almost 18 months, has included me.
I also avoid cameras pointed at me when others are playing historian. "No, no--get the kids, not me. I don't have lipstick on." Or, "My hair is a mess."
The other day, I was approached in Home Depot to be asked if I could participate in a video they were shooting about plants. They needed a "customer" to ask some written questions to the nursery department for training purposes. I actually jumped up in shock (I was checking out the 80% sale on Christmas decorations for next year), and cried out "No! I look horrible! Find someone else that doesn't look like they dressed in the dark--during a tornado!"
And, I'm totally embarrassed to say, I actually RAN AWAY as fast as my rapidly diminishing dignity would allow, and hid in the paint department.
On the bright side, I did find the perfect paint colors for our master bedroom. But, I digress...
It's incredibly hard for me to admit why I do this. Avoid cameras of all sorts. Heck, the pictures of me for this blog are almost 2 years old.
I'm even afraid to be caught by a traffic camera. I did get my very first speeding ticket ever in D.C. last spring, when I was caught doing 40 in a 25 (all these years, I really did think it was 40 mph at RFK stadium--guess I was wrong...) and they sent me the photographic proof. And, all I could think was "does this van make me look fat?"
But, I do avoid cameras. I was once a very, very small-time model. I was happy and comfortable in front of the camera, for seemingly hours on end. I was thin, and pretty, and young. I had beautiful clothes that make me look like Ally McBeal. I also worked retail, and was basically paid to look good.
And, I had the lovely disposable income to do so.
But now--15 years and 30 pounds later, I'm not that same girl. While I still have nice hair (with almost no grays, even at 40!) and no noticeable crows-feet or smile lines to speak of yet, I don't have that certain je ne sais quoi that I used to have. What I now have, after years of different medical problems and way too many doses of prednesone, is a moon face and a more"Rubenesque" body that I would wish on anyone. I still, after all these years, don't recognize myself in the mirror some days. I fully expect to see my size 4, 25 year old self beaming back at me.
And, every year, I make a resolution to lose weight, get back into shape, and dress better. Unfortunately, medication needs, surgeries, and lack of a money tree in the back yard has kept me from those goals for a few years now. But, this year, I'm making a different resolution.
I will be back in pictures.
I don't want my kids to be looking through pictures long after I'm gone, wondering "where's mom?" Heaven forbid I'm hit by an asteroid or a speeding bus while they're still young, and they look for pictures of themselves with me--and find nothing. They'll slowly forget, over time, what I looked like. And, I don't want that to happen. Because if I'm not in those pictures, they will forget.
Great. Now I'm crying... Awesome.
It hurts to realize I've deprived them, and myself, of being in the family photos. There's nothing there to prove I was with them at the "once in a lifetime" trip to see the wild buffalo roundup in South Dakota this past fall. Of hiking in the Bad Lands. Of playing at the beach in the freezing cold water. I did everything I could to hide from the photographers at my cousin's wedding this summer. To put as many people as possible in front of me, so just my head stuck out, to the side. Behind the flowers.
Forget our Christmas card--it was just the kiddos this year. For the first time, ever.
So, I will resolve to be in pictures this year, regardless of what I feel like I look like. I need to show both kids, especially my little Drama Queen, that it's not healthy to hide in a corner in shame every time someone breaks out a Nikon at a wedding. Or that it is only the mamma's job to take pictures. Or, that getting a little bit older, or a little bit wider, is something to be ashamed about. How are they going to learn about good body image and healthy self-esteem if their mom is a hot mess?
So, I hope to find myself smiling at the camera for the next 12 months and onward. Moon face, crows-feet, and boob stains be damned!
I mean, really...isn't that what photo-editing is for?