And one day She discovered
This is a long post, more like a personal, open letter and addressed to mothers everywhere...
Motherhood is seldom exactly what we pictured before having kids. It involves many sacrifices including time, sleep, and yes - even our bodies. Motherhood brings with it a whole new level of vulnerability. We are surrounded by companies and corporations who prey on that vulnerability and market to our unrealistic desire to fit in the same mold. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements that seek to plant just enough self doubt within us to make us believe that we can purchase perfection. New, young, and expecting mothers are especially susceptible to this sneaky way to sell. It’s in the shapeware that claims to help us strut a flawless figure. It’s in the magazine covers that shout at us to notice how quickly celebrities “bounce back” after baby. It’s in the fitness programs and diet plans that convince us that we must get our pre-baby body back asap. It’s in the new photo filters that remove all signs of aging from our selfies. It’s in the so called miracle creams that prevent or remove stretch marks.
We jump on the band wagon of self criticism and self judgement. I know! I’ve done it too. This obsession with restoring our “former glory” in a sad attempt to attain perfection, renders us powerless before the irrational pressures that society places on us. When instead, we should be relishing in the bliss of our new sacred role. As mothers, we do not hesitate to protect our children from negativity. We praise and encourage them. We strive to fill their buckets of self esteem with positivism. There is nothing like the fierce, yet gentle love that a mother has for her children. Isn’t it time we fill our own buckets and love ourselves as fiercely too? We deserve it.
Reality is that there is no such thing as a flawless mother. It isn’t the image of motherhood that needs redefining, but the ultimate goal we are after. We ought to reach for progress, not perfection. Too often, when speaking to mothers who are booking a session for their baby, I'll ask if they would like to be in the photos too. Many of them say things like "one day," "after I lose the baby weight," or "I don't like being in pictures." Now, believe me when I tell you that I'm familiar with those same feelings, but I have come to understand that nitpicking at ourselves does not make us better mothers.
As a photographer, I focus on capturing the essence of motherhood. My ultimate goal is to showcase the beauty that lies within motherhood. To be honest, there have been times when I have struggled to see that in myself. This photoshoot with Ana of Power to Prevail, has helped me to truly recognize it. She invited me into her home for a maternity session, unembellished. No make up, no frills; just a mom and her love for her unborn baby. I witnessed motherhood unfiltered, raw, and uncensored. This has been one of the simplest, yet most awakening photo sessions I've ever done. It has ignited something inside that urges me to embrace my own vulnerability and to throw out all unrealistic expectations.
From this moment, I pledge to purposely seek the beauty in myself, to accept and love me as I am. I will stop preoccupying myself with the insignificant things that don't matter to my children; for they see the real me, and so do your kids. I am not my body. I am a soul, this body is my vessel, one which I will wear proudly. Take these words, read them out loud, and if you don't believe them now, repeat them over and over until you do. Because you are so much more than enough. You are everything! The giver of life, the nurturer, the goddess.
Hey there! I'm Anel. Houston photographer, wife to my high school sweetheart, and mama to four wild kids who I homeschool. I love nature, capturing motherhood, and living a slow simple life. I also blog over at Tender Nest Blog