It’s been 14 years since my family had a family photoshoot. Fourteen years. That’s insane, right? The only photos that adorned the walls in our home were from a photoshoot that happened 7 years ago. But… I wasn’t present. That was the year that I separated from my husband and they did a photoshoot, without me.
My husband and I went through a year long separation, which I asked for. Technically, I asked for a divorce, but I had no game plan and no idea of how I could survive on my own, but I didn’t care. I was only focused on me. I was longing for a fairy-tale life with someone… anyone… and for whatever reason, that fairy-tale didn’t involve my current life. And when my loneliness was at its most vulnerable point, the dawn of the online world met me with wide open arms. Real people (well, online real-ish people), real conversations (well, online glamorized stories), and for a stay-at-home mom who was longing for interaction with people with such interesting lives, and it grabbed hold of me so tight.
Because my eyes were always wandering toward people and lifestyles that were more amazing than my own, I never wanted “those other more interesting people” to see photos of me with my family. I didn’t want them to see me happy. Thus… the lack of family photos during those rough years.
Fast-forward through my year-long separation with a lot of counseling and (I’m certain) a LOT of prayers, we moved back under the same roof again, still with plenty of issues to work through, no doubt.
I remember my husband asking if I wanted this photo to be taken down. I said “NO!” Then jokingly said that we could add a caption saying, “Red rover, red rover, send Mommy right over!”
The photo stayed. That photo and the individual photos of the kids were the only images that have donned our walls these past seven years.
So what changed? How are we OK now? How did I say adios to the fairy-tale unrealistic life?
Honestly? It took a lot of time. It took a lot of patience. It took a husband who was willing to wait for me to work through my mess.
So, my dear fellow readers. Can you relate at all? Do you ever get caught up in wanting a fairy-tale marriage? Do you struggle with giving your best to others, instead of your family?
If I could pass along any words of wisdom from what I’ve learned from this full circle of selfish mom to seeking-to-be-present mom, here’s what I’d share:
1. Stop looking around at others. Stop comparing.
UGH. This phrase is overused. But can we help it? We talk about uninstalling Facebook and removing it from our phones. But if we just remove social platforms, does it stop the original problem? Deep down, I truly believe the heart issue is being content with what you have. For me, it meant looking more at my family than I looked at other people.
2. Don’t lie.
Just don’t. Don’t keep secrets. Don’t tell half-truths. It will catch up with you eventually.
3. Get a life coach, counselor, therapist.
Going to a counselor was the best decision I DIDN’T want to do. Truth be told, I resisted and kicked my feet like a little child at the idea of going to a counselor. SHE didn’t need to know the details of my life! HA!
I had NO idea how life-changing it would be to see a counselor. She taught me things about myself that I never knew were there. She helped me understand why I react the way I do. Why I interpret a conversation negatively. Why I prejudge. Why I shrink into a little girl when I don’t feel safe.
I don’t believe it has to take a life-altering situation to go and see a counselor. I truly believe if we can shift the stereotype of “going to see a counselor” from a bad thing to a good thing, our world will be a whole lot better. They truly are the superheroes of today.
4. And finally, take more pictures!
It has taken more than a decade to fully embrace showing off my love for my family. There will always be skeletons within my closet of the days when I chose to put them second, but today … Today I am walking side-by-side proudly with my family.
Seven years ago I was absent from the family photo. But today… I will fully embrace the camera lens.