Truly Mama

Why I’ve Given Up On Getting Perfect Pictures of My Kids | Truly Mama

This week, I was on Chrissy Teigen’s Twitter feed, indulging in a little mindless scrolling about my favorite celebrity mom crush. That’s when I saw her post about a family photo shoot, in which her son Miles, 2, was not too thrilled about participating.

Family shoot went…right as I thought it would, actually

- chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) December 5, 2020

I chucked, thinking back to the last family photo shoot I attempted. My husband was still cutting the grass 10 minutes before the photographer arrived, my 5-year-old decided to do her own makeup, and the one-year-old fell asleep right before we were meant to start. It was glorious.

But before I could feel too connected with Chrissy, she posted another picture, this one of Miles looking like an honest-to-goodness baby model.

Then this happened!!! On my PHONE of course

- chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) December 5, 2020

That’s when I got a bit jealous.

The Temptation Of Picture-Perfect Kids

I’m sure that, if pressed, I could find a photo of my two-year-old with a clean face and a smile. But I’m almost equally as sure that it would be from before she started walking, or talking, or deciding that making silly faces in photographs was a hilarious trick.

These days, most of my pictures of her are more authentic than they are polished. She’s usually running away from the camera, or carrying on uninterrupted with whatever she was doing. Admittedly she’s muttering “cheese,” but without actually looking in my direction. If she does happen to look up, her face is messy from a snack or a romp through the dirt. Her hair is constant chaos and her clothes are mismatched. She’s gorgeous, but she’s not going to be in any magazine spreads.

In short, I’m catching her in a perfect representation of toddlerhood. And more and more, I’m trying to be ok with that. Right now, everyone curates their lives to some extent. We decide what we show on Instagram, and that image-conscious thought process goes right down to our kids. It’s natural to want them to look just right, and I’m not different in that regard.

The Family Photo Album

The thing is, it’s new to expect our kids to look picture-ready all the time. While families have done portraits for centuries, they were never honest depictions of day-to-day life… they were a picture of an ideal.

When I look back on pictures of my own childhood, my siblings and I are equally as disheveled as my kids are today. But we’re having so much fun — we’re riding bikes, or hanging out or trees, or building a fort with scrap wood. The memories in those imperfect photos are so much more rich than the holiday pictures where we’re perfectly posed.

A Honest Picture

While my daughter’s full-fledged embrace of toddlerhood is hilarious, I sometimes wish she could reel it in just a bit. It would be great if that representation just looked a bit more… tame?

When those thoughts creep in, I ask myself what’s bothering me. Am I worried that people will judge my parenting because my children look feral, when in fact they had a bath and their hair brushed just this morning? Do I think my kids won’t inspire the same cuteness-induced sighs as their cousins?

Ultimately none of that matters. In 10 or 15 years when I look back on the pictures, I’ll see my daughters’ lives as they really were: the way they can never resist snitching the food I’m preparing, how they love to romp through the muddy bog at the back or our house, or my little one’s distaste for pants. While maybe — just maybe — I’ll have a picture a year of both my girls smiling with clean clothes, clear faces and brushed hair, I suspect I’ll like the imperfect photos just as much.

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