Why I’ll Never get A Decent Photo Of My Boy

Why I’ll Never get A Decent Photo Of My Boy

I’ve had a horrible few days where every time I think about Tuesday, a couple of days ago, I feel nauseous. I thought it would pass and that I’d be over it by now, but though I have been telling everyone that I’m OK, was being silly, was tired, exhausted and it was just a momentary lapse of stability, really that’s because I feel that this is what everyone else will see as the correct and normal response, and therefore I think that would be the ‘right’ way to feel. I don’t feel that way, however. I feel like I am at a bottom of a pit with people walking by, and though a few have looked down and asked if I am OK, I have said ‘yeah, I’m OK, I just fell down here because I lost my footing… I’ll be right back up in a minute, don’t worry about me!’. I’m still sitting at the bottom of that pit. Actually, I’m sitting on the kitchen floor, but really I am here alone. My little guy is playing with his train set and making the same song play on his piggy coin bank so that he can dance, it’s beautifully happy just a few feet from me. We’ve had so many cuddles, but I’m struggling to stop myself crying each time.

On Tuesday we went to Play Group as is normal for that day of the week. There was a school photographer taking pictures of each of the girls and boys in the younger school classes as well as teachers and play group attendees. First ‘school’ photo. Very exciting. If I’d have known I’d have probably put him in something other than his top for a 9-12 month old that, though cute, has sleeves too short and I put on him in case we got to do some messy painting, but oh well.

The children sat cute and grinning for their pictures. Those that didn’t quite smile sat quietly and still. Then it was my little boy’s turn. He was OK for the first few minutes whilst the photographer set up, then he got a bit fidgety until his bottom lip jutted out and he started crying. I tried to soothe him but then he struggled away and got very upset.

As I lifted him up to say we’d try again later the photographer did explain that there’s ‘always one’ and that at least I would know what to expect from him in the future as some kids will always be that way and I will never get a decent photo of him. I nervous laughed. I think. I don’t even know. I felt overwhelmed and so turned and started to walk towards our pushchair. I guess it was something of mine. A safe space in a place that was not my own? I don’t know. I was trying to keep it together, but really the world was just whirring around and I was tunnelling towards the buggy. Then I heard the familiar and kindly voice of my friend ask if I was OK. I think I said yes. She said no, I wasn’t. She was right, I really wasn’t. I was crying, and now my struggle to hold it together had just collapsed.

It’s a stupid thing. I know that. And I know it’s not true. I have many beautiful photographs of my boy, but that’s not the problem. It’s that there’s ‘always one’ and that one is my boy. The glances from a couple of the other parents because my boy was ‘playing up’ just compounded things. I feel horrible.

I cried many times that day, and my evening was just more quiet time for that weight in my chest to squeeze my anxiety further. There’s always one. There is always one crap parent. That this is my fault and that I am actively doing something wrong to damage my child. His chances, his behaviour and his personality. If they are ‘wrong’ it will all be my fault. And he’ll always take an ugly picture. Because of me. Maybe it is my own social anxieties that are causing it. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t want to sit still during song time, or to stand in the circle and dance with the other kids. Because of me. And I’ve battled to take him to pay group every week despite it being literally the last thing I ever want to do because I am scared, and it’s so, so difficult for me, but I do it for him because I love him more than my life and because I’m doing my absolute blinking best, and I’m still rubbish at it.

I’ve spent the last few days loathing everything about myself.

A long while ago a health visitor told me not to display my anxieties in front of my child because I will pass term onto him, and I have fought and fought it so very much. I never used to be able to go into a supermarket, but now I do almost every day. We go to playgroup, swimming, walks, not because I want to but because I don’t want him to be as rubbish in his life as I have been.

My mother’s ex-husband once told me that I’d never have children as I ‘wasn’t the type’. I think about that all the time. Maybe I am not. I love my boy so, so much, but maybe that is not enough. Maybe you need to be a better person than me. I try every day of my life to do right by people, but maybe I am just not good enough at it. I love him far too much to ever feel any regret at becoming a parent, but sometimes I hate myself because he deserves a better mum than me.

I wanted to add a picture to prove that, actually, the photographer was wrong in the first place, but my brain is full of thoughts and panic, and I just can’t. And of course I’m crying, because as some hateful person once said to me ‘that’s all I do’.


14 thoughts on “Why I’ll Never get A Decent Photo Of My Boy”

  • “There’s always one” is the stupidest phrase. No there isn’t always one, there are always unique people that react in unique ways, and that’s completely fine. Darwin knows you’re there for him and that’s the best anxiety treatment there is xxx

  • Oh hon. You are doing the hardest job in the wold and your child is flourishing. To know they are loved is one of the most important things a kid can have. The good parents are the ones who doubt themselves. An insensitive comment by a person who doesn’t know you or your child doesn’t change that. I think that inner voice that is remembering all the bad things you’ve been told about yourself and your need to remind yourself of all the good things that have been said about you and you know to be true. Hugs hon.

  • You know what, the more I think about it the more annoyed I am with the photographer – carelessly wheeling out a stock phrase to blame the child for feeling uncomfortable rather than their own failure to make the child feel comfortable.

  • This spoke to my heart, and I want you to know you aren’t alone. You aren’t alone in feeling this way, you aren’t alone in doubting, and I want to thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone either.

    I don’t know if you have a specific parenting mentor, or even just someone who is in the trenches with you who you could talk with. I call my cousin or my mom when I’ve convinced myself I’ve really messed something up, and they can usually help me find perspective.

    From across the ocean, but one mom to another, I wish you peace.

  • I wish I’d been as eloquent as you are about how I felt when my children were young. I wish people would think before they make what they consider to be ‘throwaway remarks’ because as mothers they are not throwaway to us. As creatures of reflection and introspection we dwell on those cold, cruel, empty phrases and they cause damage. It’s no good telling us not to dwell on them, because it’s in our nature to do that. But equally, that’s what makes us such good mothers. I feel your pain Mimi, but want you to know that your son is clearly happy, and also developing an independent questioning character – so he doesn’t want his picture taken? Good for him! How many of us go through our lives complying because everyone else does? You are clearly raising him to question the status quo, and not to follow like a sheep – you’re amazing too!

  • There’s always people able to bring us down…
    I’ve been reading you for so many years now, and been so inspired by you. You are so strong and resilient. I can’t have kids due to health issues but was so happy for you when your little one was born. I know anxiety. I wish I had a magical wand to cheer you up on that kitchen floor.
    Just remember this : it’s not your fault. Kids cry, that’s just what they do. They have good days and bad days. The only way to be a bad mum is to not love your kid. Don’t pressurize yourself. You’ve made a human being. You’re a champion. There will be good and bad days, but you’re not alone. Big hugs

  • There’s always one… And on that day it was the photographer’s turn to be it. You fail pretty hard if you have all the pro equipment and still can’t snatch one frame, while you manage it countless times a week in difficult conditions. Then blame the toddler. I’m so angry! D is a gorgeous, happy kid and of course he’s learning how the world works by testing it’s boundaries sometimes, it would be weird if he wasn’t. You’re doing great, I hope your brain stops paying attention to the voices that say you aren’t, they’re worthless.

  • Okay, deep breath: what you’re feeling is 100% normal. Every parent goes through these feelings at some point, and some of us do it multiple times with the same kid. I have my own anxieties and I’ve noticed some of the same in my older son (almost 7 years old). Whether it’s nature, nurture, or a combination of the two….no idea. Probably a combination.

    You have come a long way for the sake of Darwin, just as I have for my own boys and just as many others do for their own children. You’re not perfect; you’re human.

  • Oh, love. I don’t even know where to start. Well, I do – it’s here: you are the best mum your boy could ever need. You love him with your whole heart. From you, he learns that love is more powerful than anything else, and that it is ok to be human, to be fallible. That health visitor needs a slap, in my opinion. It is an important lesson for all of us to overcome fear and anxiety. You do all those things in spite of how hard they are. Letting your lad see how brave you are is a gift, not a curse. And for what it’s worth, my eldest would never join in with dancing or singing in groups when she was little (she hated it so much, I feel bad for making her go!), and she is perfectly fine socially. She would sing her little heart out at home, and that’s what mattered. Loads of love to you, and to your beautiful boy xxxxx

  • I happened across this post tonight and I know nothing else about you, but I am so angry on your behalf! I’m a bit further along the road than you in parenting (I have a 10 yr old & a 4 yr old) and I can identify so very strongly, there are so many times I have been thoroughly ashamed of myself because of the judgement of others, and I know when I was expecting my eldest I used to tell her I was so, so sorry she would have such a loser for a mother. Please listen to me when I tell you, you truly are the greatest thing in your son’s life – if he struggles as you do, you will be uniquely placed to help him. And who the dickens gets to decide what is normal and acceptable anyway? You are a fantastic mummy, anyone can see that, you are fierce in wanting the absolute best for your boy and you have nothing to apologise to anyone for. Your boy is unique and wonderful and so are you.

  • I feel so much for you reading this, that a stupid, careless comment can cause so much hurt. I am similarly quick to doubt myself, and I am very prone to black and white thinking and taking things like this to heart. So I understand why this has upset you so much. We are thin skinned. But I bet you’re a fantastic mum. Nobody is getting it perfectly right, it just looks like they are. Keep going .

  • I’ve only just caught up with this post and it seems like you’re doing all the right things to me. You’ve brought up a son who could tell he was being photographed by a moron and decided to get the hell out of there.

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