A fellow friend and a girl with a blog posted this amazing post about some pictures she recently had taken of herself. She spoke to how often a lens of ten + years ago serves as her filter and how she has decided to see that the last ten years have enhanced her beauty in ways she often doesn't acknowledge.
So often as women who have babies we focus on the parts of our body that have softened and sagged. How our eyes now have wrinkles in the creases from laughter and tears and our hair has maybe even started to turn gray from time to time.
My mom once said if she could go back to the first time she felt she was fat she would tell that girl how perfect she was. And I want her to know that even now she is perfect. But as women we see a standard that is unattainable and outrageous. And as we age we so easily focus on the changes and see them in a negative light instead of in the beauty of a life lived.
If we could all just see the beauty in our smile, whether our teeth show signs of many early morning cups of coffee. In the dark circles around our eyes that signal sleep deprivation because of late nights with our little miracle. If a larger sized jean is because it isn't our season to spend hours at the gym. If too many days in yoga pants, without the actual yoga exercise, actually mean we are comfortable when we get down and play trains or sit on the stoop while our little guy shovels snow for hours on end.
The last couple months have been completely overwhelming for me as I have jumped into photography outside of my family way too quickly. But one thing I have realized as I prepare to hand over a family's pictures is the fear that they won't like the pictures. And that fear is mostly with how they will look at the picture and see themselves...worried they will focus on their own "so called flaws" not the extraordinary beauty in the family they have built, the little people they have brought into the world, in the chaos that comes with getting a family to a photo shoot looking photo ready. Everyone looks at pictures of themselves with the most critical eye because the natural instinct is to see the flaws. The pictures that are typically my favorite are usually the mom's least favorite because their smile is too big...but it is a candid moment where they are laughing or looking at their child relaxed and completely themselves for a moment, forgetting the camera is even there.
I want to tell that mama that her children see her as the most beautiful person in the world. And someday those pictures they see in the family album will be their favorite. Not because your hair was freshly colored or her jeans was a certain size. But because she is their mama and the smile she is giving in that family picture is their mama's smile.
This weekend I handed my sister my camera (after I got it all set, hahaha!) and had her snap a few pictures of me. And I have had them sitting here for a few days. Not brave enough to post a picture of myself alone. Because like most women, we only see the flaws.
But after reading my friend's post...I am posting them.
Because this is me.
The mama to three little miracles.
The mama who nursed each of her kids for a year (which means my boobs are dealing with three years of sag making action)
The mama who exercised hard for a year and a half but has taken too much time off lately and am sadly back to square one.
The mama who gets up too early, that doesn't drink enough water, but is doing her best each day.
This is the mama that has been happily married to my husband for 11+ years.
This is the mama who spent almost 10 years teaching elementary school.
This is the mama who has put 6 strong years into focusing only on my family and not a career.
This is me.
And and the life I have lived and the birthdays I have celebrated bring a different beauty to my picture. Be brave. See the beauty you have lived and how it has only enhanced you.