I see you. I know how busy you are. I see you juggling the pick-ups and the drop-offs and the soccer practice and the piano lessons. I see you in line at the grocery store, pinning gallery walls to a Pinterest board called “For the Home” that exist only in your imagination. Your hair in a knot at the top of your head and one sneaker lace coming undone. You’re tired. You don’t want to use the little energy you have left to tie it. You’re trying to keep it all together. We’re all just trying to keep it all together. I see you.
I see you catch your reflection in a store-front window and think that once you lose those extra 10 pounds, then…THAT will be a good time to have the family photos taken. But once you get home and your children snuggle up onto your lap, you remember how you wouldn’t trade your old body for these perfect beings you’ve grown inside it for the world. And you grab the ice cream. And a glass of wine for good measure. And you’re calm. I see you.
You wake up in the middle of the night and your list is playing in your head. I have to make treats for someone’s class this week…which one? Is there an allergy in that class? What’s with all the allergies? Should I get the kids tested for allergies? Why did I eat all that peanut butter when I was pregnant? I should get them tested. Should I be feeding them gluten? What is gluten? I need to google that. And in the morning, when you’re dragging and the barista just can’t get your coffee fast enough…I see you.
You work and your older kids go to school while your youngest is in daycare. And the guilt comes at you hard in the morning. You have a killer day at work and it reminds you of how powerful you are and what a warrior you are and you’re proud of yourself. You love your job. And then the guilt comes back at you again. Even if you worked from home, the guilt is still there – I promise you. I see you.
I see you. I truly do. You’re still you on the inside – beneath all the busy and the tired and the worried. You’re still there and I CAN see you. Your kids can see you and your partner can see you. We just need you to be able to see you. You are still that fun, free-spirited woman who loves from the tippy-toes of her feet to the top of her head. You love to the moon and the stars and around the sun and back again. You are given the great task of keeping balance where balance is impossible – but you do it. And we all can see you.
You research photographers on your phone while watching some show that you DVRed, tuning it out while you imagine how that day is going to go. Your weekends are YOURS. You finally get to return to your tribe where you get to watch your kids make their first basket and do a pirouette. You get to watch a movie with your husband and laugh over a few beers. You just get to relax and be yourselves…together. You don’t want to take time out of that important stuff to put on a show for a stranger with a camera and you shouldn’t have to.
Having your photographs taken should never be stressful – EVER. It’s supposed to be fun! It’s supposed to be a pause where you all can get together and just focus on each other. Make each other laugh and tell each other things that you don’t say every day, while those moments are captured for you for the rest of time. You want to have photographs that you can hang on your walls in that gallery wall that you’ve pinned on Pinterest that show who you REALLY are in your family’s best moments. You want to bottle up every good day you’ve ever had and put those feelings on the wall for you to see every day. You want your house to hug you and say, “Look at how much love exists here.“ And I know you’re too tired to plan that wall and print the photos, but I will come to your house and do that for you – because I see you and I know that you don’t usually ask for help.
I see you, Mom. I see you as you are in your heart. When I photograph you, I can see things that you don’t get to see. I can see the tiny moments that never get captured with an iPhone. I can see the way your son tugs at the corner of your sweater when he’s nervous. I can see the way your husband looks at you when you’re looking at the kids. I can see the way your daughter thinks you hang the moon. And I can see the girl you still are inside – the girl who loves to laugh and whose favorite place is in the arms of her tribe. I can see the way your eyes sparkle and the way you gently brush your hair away from your face when it whips in the wind. I can see your strong arms that have carried your children and groceries and baskets of laundry. I can see your hands that wipe away tears and sign permission slips and ruffle your husband’s hair. I can see the mischievous looks that you get when you let your youngest break the rules because the photographer is here and why the hell not?
There are no circles under your eyes, your weight is exactly right, and your hair looks perfect. What I see in you is love. And love makes all the imperfections that beat us down every day in the mirror blur into the background. Your children will remember the way your laugh sounds and the smell of your hair and the warmth of your breath on their heads. They will remember the way your hands turned the pages of the books and that you gave the best hugs they will ever have. They will know that the lines on your face came from how much you smiled and the wrinkle in your forehead came from how much you worried because you loved them with everything you had. And when they look back at your photo albums, they will not see anything other than how you gave them the world.
I can see YOU.