Every now and then the same thread gets passed around - a beautifully written blog asking men to 'take the photo'. Within the article it asks husbands/partners to take photos, even if at the time the woman refuses it or thinks she looks awful, as there may be a time in the future when this photo is used as a memory of her, or a memory of a moment that otherwise may be forgotten.
Several years ago my husband took a photo of me, passed out in bed, mouth open, with my tiny first born clamped firmly to my breast. I hated the photo then, but now she is a feisty six year old I can see the beauty behind it, the sleep deprivation, the love for this little girl. This photo portrays so much that, I think, has since been forgotten.
There are so many moments, like that one, that I feel get over looked. As a mother you do so much for your family, it is easy to sometimes feel undervalued, as though you are being taken for granted. Of course you would do ANYTHING for your children, but, no matter how much you love them, sometimes they can't help but be a little... selfish. Of course they don't set out to hurt feelings but there is nothing worse than slaving over a hot stove to be told, 'urgh that looks disgusting!' Or asking them to do one job to be greeted with 'why do I have to do everything around here' as you are standing knee deep in piles of laundry, dinner in the oven, washing dishes. It does sometimes feel as though the tasks you take on as a parent do get forgotten, and while I don't expect a photo of every single chore I ever do, I do sometimes wish I got thanked.
Well, at least, that was up until a point, a point where my husband sent me a very simple text message telling me how he sees me. On the day in question I was grieving the death of my grandfather. Life had to continue as normal, so I made the supper, bathed the children and was halfway through our daily bedtime 'battle' when the text drifted upstairs to my phone. After a little editing, and cutting out a few rude bits, I now have permission to share it.
Thank you, thank you for working so hard. Thank you for being there for our children despite the fact you are hurting inside, while I was at work and couldn't be there for you.
I see what you do for our family. I see the meal waiting on the kitchen counter for me every night when I return home, I see the food you have lovingly prepared, even when times are hard, you always manage somehow.
I see the bags under your eyes, they were never there before kids. I see you climb out of bed wearily to fetch one water and give another a cuddle, no matter the hour, you may not notice. But I see you.
I saw you the day you became a mother, how strong you were in labour. Stubborn and brave to even contemplate a home birth. You did it without an ounce of pain relief. I saw how scared you were at the realisation that you were a mother, with epic responsibilities. Despite the fear you take each day as it comes.
I see you, over analysing your body post babies. The body that carried our children is more beautiful now than ever before.
I see you when we are ill, taking temperatures, mopping up sick, staying up all night despite the fact you feel rough too. I see that.
I see you playing games with the kids, the games which are not your favourite, but you play to make them happy, even if it's almost bedtime and you are shattered.
I see the bedtime stories you read. That Barbie book you loathe, every night for a week, still you don't complain (at least not too much!)
I see the bedtime battle, wrestling small infants into their pyjamas, them stringing it out as long as possible, only to announce they need the toilet as soon as you think they are asleep.
I watched you breastfeeding, multiple times a night despite the deprivation, through mastitis, through engorgement, through the biting, not because you enjoyed it, but because you felt it was the right thing to do.
I have watched you co-sleep, rocking our children through the night, sitting for two hours in a cramped cot until they doze off.
I watch you sit down every evening after the girls are in bed to work. Even when they have exhausted you you turn on that laptop and get your head down, so dead set on reaching your dreams.
Thank you for being there for us. I know when things get tough you feel it all gets on top of you, but don't think for a second we take you for granted, we never could. You are the glue that holds this family together and we see you, we see you everyday and all the things you do for us. We will never forget all that you do.
He said these things just once and that was enough, enough to know my efforts are appreciated. While I don't think we need a photo for every single thing we do as a parent, sometimes we do need words. Even if they are only spoken the once. This message proves that the work you do as a mum DOES get seen, you ARE appreciated, but it is simply not always voiced. So can I ask- if you are not taking the photographs, at least say the words. Tell that person how much they mean to you, let them know they are not taken for granted. Tell everyone else about them too, for one day, when they are gone, let the world know that they did it right, and they will never be forgotten photographs or no photographs.