Photo by A. © 2014
From where I sit I could tell you about a million things wrong with these photos. I’m incredibly skilled at pinpointing ALL of my physical flaws. I try to find them first because if I can be my harshest critic then perhaps it won’t be as bad when others judge me. Like my interesting yet flawed logic on that one? Then I let in the critical voices – past and present – that have shared their thoughts on my appearance. And if I were to miss anything I am sure there are folks out there I may not even know who would be happy to find additional flaws. In a world striving to take the perfect “selfie” and often relying on airbrushing and retouching to create the perfect image – because we could never dare to be anything less than perfect – it doesn’t take a creative genius to pick out my flaws or anyone else’s for that matter. What takes creativity and courage is finding the beauty in the flaws. Now that’s a talent and these photos that my three-year-old son took were the most amazing invitations to do just that.
For as long as this little guy has been able to talk he’s asked for a camera. He’s played with disposables, my camera phone and, in this instance, my “good” camera. I’ve given him cameras time and again just as I have my daughter because I love to see the way the world looks through their eyes. Each time they take photos I am reminded of the beauty I miss when I am “too busy.” In this moment of play that we shared, my son reminded me of how I am seen in his eyes.
“I got ya Mom,” he said, as he reviewed the pictures and I filled up.
Photo by A. © 2014
‘Yes,’ I thought, ‘you did.’ This is me – raw and, quite honestly, soulful. This is who I am with my children.
I am not guarded with my kids. I am not leery of their motives or uncertain about whether or not they will accept me (I know there will a come a time when they won’t accept me and will think I am uncool ) but with them I am me. I’ve struggled with trust throughout my life as many have but I trust in them and they are quite often my teachers as I rediscover trust, especially in myself.
My children are young enough that the world hasn’t tainted their responses to beauty yet. They do not yet know that the world will tell them that in order to fit in they need to change themselves. They do not know that some people will try to tell them what their idea of beauty should be. I am fighting that tooth and nail to help them to remember to see the beauty in people that extends far beyond the color of skin or the wheels on a wheelchair or prosthetic limbs or anything else that may be deemed a “flaw” by our society. I am not a Pollyanna. I know the messages that exist. I understand how hard it is to fight against everything from ridiculous advertising messages to radical hatred and I don’t claim to know how to change it all but the best I can do is try. The best I can do is to work as hard as I possibly can to help my kids grow up seeing beyond the messages and instead listening to and trusting their ideas about beauty and truth. As naïve as it might sound I believe there is a way to change the conversation enough to find a space where people can be themselves. I believe there is a way to see the true beauty in people, a way to communicate that and a way to see them thrive and in thriving, change the world for the better.
My son invited me to play. Without knowing it, he asked me to put aside any fear and join him in discovery. It was one of the best moments and he captured me. He is right about that. He captured ALL my imperfections, my heart, my honesty and my soul right here in one moment.
I love that my children invite me to play and find a voice within me that says screw the selfie, screw the perfect picture pose. They allow me for a moment to just be me and to laugh and be silly and through that I unearth fears, in this scenario, the fear of how negatively I would be be judged if I were seen just as I am. That fear is far less powerful then what they showed me which is how much I am loved. Thank you kiddos for bringing me out to play and reminding me that it’s ok to love me just as I am. I love you both far more than you will ever know.
Photo by A. © 2014