One day, photos are all your kids will have to remember you by. Do them a favor and actually be IN the picture, even if your hair isn’t perfect. Let them see the REAL you, imperfections and all. They’ll thank you for it! Let’s discuss.
Photos Are How Your Kids Will Remember You, So Make Sure You’re IN Them
As is often the case with these types of posts, I was inspired by both a meme and a conversation with a friend. The meme basically said that pictures will be the only things your kids will have left of you one day, so make sure you’re in them, even if you feel like you’re not looking your best. Your kids won’t care about your hair and makeup, they’ll just be happy to see you.
This sparked a conversation with a friend, who told me that she scoured every box and album of family photos looking for pictures of her grandfather. He took thousands of them of other people during his lifetime as a photographer, but he was only in a handful over the years. She’d give anything for one more photo.
At the same time, she said, she realizes that she’s doing the same thing to her son and future grandchildren. She hides behind the camera more often than not. She’s self-conscious about her weight, her greying hair, her lack of fashion sense. She worries that she’s an embarrassment to her son, so she stays behind the camera.
I asked her, “Would you care if your grandfather was having a bad hair day? Would you be embarrassed by what he was wearing?”
“No,” she said, of course not. I’d just be happy to see him again.”
That is the key takeaway, both of the conversation and the meme. Your kids genuinely won’t care what you look like in the pictures, as long as you’re IN them. Moreover, all of those random “imperfect” pictures give your kids a chance to remember the REAL you.
Imperfect Unposed Pictures Let Your Kids Remember the REAL You
Think about someone that you love and lost. If you could have just ONE perfect posed professional-quality picture or 1000 random photos of everyday moments, which would you choose? I’d definitely choose the thousand random photos- bad hair days and all.
See, those “perfect” pictures don’t really show the “real” us. Our wedding albums, professional family photos lining the walls, and other posed moments show a version of us that we only bring out for special occasions. A primped, preened, and coifed version.
It’s so important to let our kids see who we really are and to leave them with true memories. If we leave them with nothing but perfect pictures, we’re leaving them with just half of the picture. We’re basically telling them that flaws are something to be ashamed of, and that’s just not a healthy message.
Besides, as special weddings, anniversaries, and other milestone moments are, our real everyday lives are made up of a million smaller moments that are just as worthy as remembering. A photo of your mom posing in front of Big Ben reminds you of that ONE time your family traveled to England. It’s a great memory, but it ends when you get on the plane to come home.
On the other hand, a photo of her covered in flour and laughing in the kitchen reminds you of ALL the times you spent baking together. That one imperfect photo of an ordinary moment opens up the floodgates to countless other memories far better than one perfect photo of an extraordinary moment.
Then you remember the day she taught you her secret recipe for chicken noodle soup. That leads to memories of how she always made it for you when you were sick, which leads to that time you had chickenpox and she stayed up all reading to distract you from scratching.
Then you remember how she used to take you to the library every Saturday to pick out new books, and you always stopped for ice cream on the way home.
One imperfect photo opens the floodgates to a million perfect little moments
Get the point? One perfect posed photo can take you on a trip down memory lane. One imperfect photo of a random everyday moment can take you on a cross-country trip on memory road.
Try it! Grab a totally random unposed picture of your family. Just whatever you have on hand. The first picture on your phone, a random page in your photo album, anything goes. Now grab a pen and paper, and start writing down all of the memories that come to mind. Just let them flow out, stream of consciousness style.
Next, find a posed professional shot, like your annual family portrait or your child’s school photo. Do the same thing. Write down whatever memories come to mind. Now, compare notes. Which one brought up more fond memories?
For me, when I look at a posed photo, I mostly think about what went into creating that perfect picture. The 20 retakes because someone blinked, sneezed, looked away, or just wasn’t smiling. When I look at a random photo of an everyday moment, though, the memories just pour out.
Do your kids and grandkids a favor. Step out from behind the camera and be IN the picture, no matter how you look. Give them the same opportunity to take a “memory road trip” and recall all those beautiful ordinary moments that made life with you so special. They’ll be so grateful that you did.