Be In the Picture

When I asked for chicken selfies, a sweet reader replied that she is always the one taking the pictures, so didn’t have one of herself.

Dear sister, you must be a mama! Of humans, or other animals, or both! We mamas always put everyone else in front of the camera first, don’t we?

I spent at least a dozen years taking all the pictures, and never being in them. I didn’t love the way I looked. I was tired, either pregnant or nursing, with bags under my eyes, spots on my face, and usually wearing something wrinkled or stained. I focused on making sure the babies were beautifully dressed, not me.

Here’s the thing: over time, I’ve learned that, as moms, we really do need to take care of, and value, ourselves. I’d always heard this. But lately I’ve been trying it out more, in little ways. I started taking time to work out a couple years ago. (Ironically, the fact that it was selfish, made exercise feel more like a luxury, which made me actually enjoy working out, maybe for the first time ever!) I also started giving myself permission to have interests other than the kids. I started writing again. I got chickens. I started this page. Guess what?? It worked. I am happier, and healthier, and probably more interesting, (as long as you like chickens. 😂) I believe we are better mothers, and people, when we take care of, and value, ourselves.

In an unexpected result of my selfish changes, the kids started exercising more too. The whole family became healthier than they were a couple years ago. Plus, the older kids started working out WITH me, which has been a great bonding experience for us. For the younger kids, taking care of the animals, and learning about agriculture, has been such a happy activity, and again, something we have done together.

(But please know that taking care of yourself does not have to only equal exercise! I’m using that as an example, but it can be whatever makes you happy and fulfills you – fixing old cars, raising goats, or studying French cooking! I hated people who told me to work out more – that is not what I am telling you, unless you want to.)

As our kids get older, I hope our daughters will have learned to value themselves, and our sons will grow up to honor the women in their lives, by the example we moms have lived.

But also, we deserve to take care of ourselves, to feel pretty, to feel fulfilled. We deserve to be, and need to be, in the pictures.

I’m in my forties now, I have a few more smile lines than I used to. My hair is usually a mess. Most of the time I can’t be bothered with makeup. This blogging thing has been a huge adjustment for a mom who is used to focusing on everyone else. But I am finding a voice, which I love. And I am trying to force myself to get in the picture, at least sometimes. I want my daughters to grow up believing they should be in the picture too. And I want all the other chicken mamas to know that they are beautiful, and deserve to be in the picture!

Men, go tell your wife, or girlfriend, or daughter, or mother, that she is beautiful, and take her picture! Chicken mamas, take that selfie! Trust me, ten years from now you’ll look at it, and wonder why you didn’t appreciate how great you looked!