Where are all the mums?
I deliberated for quite a while over this question. Wondered if I should change it to ‘where are all the parents’. But in the end I opted to stick with mums, because this is something that does seem to be more true for mums than dads.
When you look through family photo albums, whether they’re physical albums that you hold in your hands, or digital ones you scroll through on Facebook, you see loads of smiling children, and quite a few smiling dads.
But where are all the mums?
I was chatting to a few of my friends the other day, as we watched our children play together after school.
We were talking about how many photos we take, and how often. And unsurprisingly the conversation turned to the fact that us mums are so often the ones behind the camera and not in front of it.
The thing is, this isn’t a new revelation.
We’ve been discussing it for years.
Photographer Sue Bryce has been urging women to exist in photos for a long time. A whole host of people have written posts on the subject, about how important it is that the mom stays in the picture. I’ve written posts on this topic in the past, telling parents that we need to get in more photos and dismissing various reasons why we shouldn’t get in front of the camera.
Yet somehow, despite all our best intentions, we slip back behind the camera. We stop setting the timer. We forget to hand the camera over.
I’m as guilty of this as everyone else. And this is something I feel really passionately about.
There are just so many reasons that we end up disappearing from our family albums.
For a lot of women it comes down to the fact that they don’t like how they look at the moment. They’re heavier than they’d like to be, they’ve not washed their hair in days let alone found time to put on some mascara or lipstick.
For me it’s more about the effort required to get in more photos. Which is silly really, because how hard is it to grab the children and take selfie? Is it really so much effort to hand the camera to my husband and ask him to take a few photos?
The thing is, I know all this. I’m aware of the need to exist in photos, to show that I was there. I know that it’s not all that hard to do. And still weeks and months go by and I’m not there. I take photos of the children and my husband, but I’m not there with them.
So each year I set myself a challenge.
For the month of March I get in a photo every day. This will be the fourth year I’ve done it, and I know from past experience that it’ll be a bit of a struggle at times, a lot of fun at other times, but most definitely worth it in the end.
I’ll take selfies, set timers, use my remote trigger and my husband, whatever it takes to get in front of the camera. Some photos will be just me, some will just be parts of me. Some will be with my children. Some will be posed, some will be candid.
I always hope that doing this project for a month will inspire me to keep getting in photos on a regular basis.
But for some reason I still end up fading away, slipping behind the camera again.
I’ll keep fighting though, to exist in more photos for my children.
And I challenge you to fight with me. Show your children you were there. Let go of all your excuses and get in the damn photo.
You don’t have to do it every day. You don’t have to do it every week. Just do it more than you do now.
And when you do, don’t let the photos hide away on your computer or your phone. Print them out and place them proudly in an album for your children to cherish in years to come. Share them on Facebook and Instagram for the rest of your family and friends to see. And if you do, please do use #ShowYouWereThere so I can see them too.
#ShowYouWereThere is my little Instagram community that is a celebration of parents existing in photos both with and for their children. I’ve neglected it a bit lately but the arrival of March and my daily photo project marks its revival.
Any and all photos that feature you in some way, please do share them. Whether it’s a picture of you with your family, a mirror selfie or a close up of your hand holding your favourite coffee cup, it all counts. It all shows that you were there.
It’s all a step towards us not having to ask that question – where are all the mums – any more.