Ten days after our baby daughter arrived we had the brilliant idea of having a family photo shoot. Let me rephrase that for you. Ten days after our world was turned upside down, when our house looked like a cyclone had been through it and we had aged 10 years overnight, we decided ‘yep, now would be a great time to get someone to document this’.
Let me set the scene: On the day, I was madly trying to apply makeup to cover up the fact I hadn’t slept or eaten properly in 10 days. I was running around trying to find a dress and hair bow for the baby – which she hated – that outfit cost a small fortune and she wore it exactly once before the fat rolls took over the lace.
For me they aren’t real, they don’t represent what that time was like at all.
I was madly trying to squeeze my exhausted and sore body into clothes to try and cover the fact that a) I had just given birth and b) was aching from head to toe. So I wore a sack.
The day was a ridiculously humid. Bub was cranky and doing what babies do best, which isn’t model for a photo shoot.
During one of the photos, I remember the photographer looking at me and saying ‘OK now look at your daughter lovingly’ and a horrible thought popped into my head: ‘how do I do that?’
It was at that point I thought stop this train, I want to get off. Don’t get me wrong, the photos came back and the photographer had done an amazing job, but I just don’t want to look at the photos. Because for me they aren’t real, they don’t represent what that time was like at all.
So why do we do this? Why do we feel the need to pose and fake what having a newborn is like?
I mean, how many newborns do you know sleep peacefully in a cheesecloth cocoon tucked into a basket full of stuffed toys and flowers?
I blame three things. The blasted Anne Geddes and her photos of adorable babies lying in pumpkins from my teenage years, the pressure of social media and, most importantly, I blame myself for feeding into the contrived crap behind it all.
The reality is they are lying on you as you try to work out how you can shove that piece of cold toast in your mouth without getting more crumbs on their tiny head.
Call me silly, but the reality, in my eyes, is a lot more beautiful, because it’s real and all mothers have been there.
I would much rather a photo of my daughter looking grumpy as I try to figure out how the car seat works, or the gummy grin she gives me when she first wakes up in the morning. Those are the memories I will cherish and think back on, rather than the time she was made to look like she was floating on a cloud of cushions.
So this Mother’s Day, stop fretting about what you look like and take some candid and natural photos of your kids. I promise when we’re old and grey, we’ll be looking at those memories with a sense of pride and achievement.