Sunday, May 12, 2013

We're So Pretty

Looking back at recent entries here I noticed a big problem. There are hardly any pictures of me. And it's not just a new phenomenon. If my goal for the past six years has been to document our family life with this blog, it would seem that I am failing, because I am very much present in each of these photo worthy moments and yet you rarely see me.

While it's true that I am the photographer in the family, I am also the one who scrutinizes the photos, finding faults with the rejects and storing them in file folders that will never again see the light of day. And I've noticed that the pictures of me almost always end up there.

I don't consider myself to be a vain person. I like to take care of myself, sure, but I don't obsess over looks and I certainly don't spend a lot of time primping or preening. So why do I have such a hard time appreciating pictures of myself?

I started this blog because I wanted my kids to be able to remember their childhood. And I guess in the deepest and darkest corners of my mind, I wanted an archive of this in case Brent and I aren't around to tell them about it someday. Morbid, perhaps, but honest.

I've realized lately that I'm not telling the whole story, because I am here too. And I've also realized that some of my favorite photos of my mom are the candid shots, the ones that would never make it into a scrapbook or a photo album. The silly ones. The laughing or mid sentence once. The pictures that captured an expression that I remember so well. Those are the ones that tell the real story.

Ever since he started kindergarten, Jack has become much more self-aware. He stands before the mirror on school days trying, usually unsuccessfully, to flatten his his hair. "I just hate my curls, Mom," he complains, with genuine distress. "I want my hair to be like everybody else's."

Fuck that.

I was photographing a party for one of my friend's kids. "Just make sure I'm not in any of the pictures," she requested.

Fuck that.

I overheard two ladies shopping the thrift store aisles next to me. "I wish I could wear shorts." "Oh, so do I. But my legs would scare people." And then they laughed.

Fuck that.

I pass back the school pictures to my classes. Some kids glance at their photos and put them away, while others cringe and flip the packets over before anyone else can see. One kid gets up and throws his into the garbage.

Fuck that.

I compliment a friend on a truly beautiful photo she has put online. She argues with me. "Maybe it's not so much that I don't like my face," she eventually acquiesces, "but that I'm just tired of looking at it after all these years." 

Huh. That kind of makes sense. Maybe I don't like pictures of me because I have looked like me for so long. Maybe I'm just kind of sick of looking at me. Huh.

But as I face the overwhelming task of raising my children in a society where it's perfectly acceptable, if not expected, to put yourself down, I wonder how I can help them be the kids who don't throw their school pictures in the garbage.

I guess I can start by handing the camera to Brent. I guess I can tell him that for Mother's Day, I'd really like some pictures of me with the kids. And then I guess I can accept my perceived imperfections and move the fuck on because my kids love me even if my teeth are crooked.  

And so you will see that I made an appearance in this week's photo line up. That in between Jack eating the world's biggest donut and Brent bathing the dog, I found the time to hand over that camera.

And for Mother's Day, I got my wish. We spent the afternoon at Agrarian Ales playing horseshoes, drinking beer, tossing beanbags, and letting our dog and kids run wild.

There I was, right in the middle of it all. And that's the real story.


  1. Great pics, Miss you guys. Give the kids a hug for us. Morphing into becoming Kansans again...

  2. Hi Cassadie, I'm a new reader. Just wanted to say, loved this post and the last one. I'm a teacher and I don't have children yet but all I can say is - I don't know how you do it!

    Congratulations on the amount of 'fuck that's in this post too - I love it ;) haha.

    Your photos are beautiful!

  3. You look lovely! And so does your family.
    I can so well relate to what you are writing, since I am the person who went into a store on my recent trip to London, didn't like what I saw in the mirror, and refused to go into any other store during my holiday. Considering that I need some basics for summer, this was really stupid - and very much me I'm afraid. I'm not sure if I'm vain. I'm not one to spend hours in the bathroom, that's for sure, but I've always felt insecure about my looks. So whatever fuels this idea of not being good enough, be it pictures or a mirror with cruel lighting, has to go. Needless to say we don't have any pictures of me either. Maybe I should hand my camera to my husband too?

  4. Love the pictures - and it is great to see you in them! I have noticed the same thing too, and just last week told my husband I wanted to be in more shots...but then at one point then had to ask him to stop stalking me like the paparazzi. Damn them for listening. Glad you had a great Mother's Day! I want that pizza BTW.

  5. Cassadie - you are GORGEOUS! And you and Clementine make a beautiful pair.

  6. love your post as usual. Your whole family is so cute and it's important to record everyone. Hope to see more of you in future posts. See you at the next birtday party.