One of the most popular posts of late on the Huffington Post was one by Allison Tate about moms staying in the picture.
Her piece has been shared almost seven hundred thousand times not only because it was powerful and true and speaks to deep insecurities that so many of us carry, but because it was a call to action. When I look back at pictures of my own mother from when I was a toddler, I see nothing but beauty. While I have very few actual memories of that person I can see that she is young, happy, and bursting with love for the little red-headed girl she carries in the pictures. And every time I see one of those pictures I think to myself, “I wish there were more.”
Tate writes, “our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves–women, mamas, people living lives.” She even wrote a holiday version where she vows to stay in the picture on Christmas morning sipping coffee in her jammies because, “This holiday season is a moment in time for my family, and it will be captured in its entirety. I am determined to include myself, because I complete the picture.”
I’m three months postpartum and my little one is going through a growth spurt that leaves me functioning on four hours of very interrupted sleep. Last Friday my husband came home from work and the first thing he said was, “You look clean!” His well-meaning compliment was a true testament of my hygiene standards that week. But even though my hair was dirty, my kids went to the museum and we baked cookies and read stories and they were none the wiser of my disheveled state. Because for now, for this short period of time, I am perfect in their eyes. Their little heads resting on my skin and hugging my squishy body is their safe place. They look for me, reach for me, and never stray far from me. They don’t have the ability to see my flaws yet, and even on my bad days they greet me with the same beaming smiles.
I am the most constant thing in my children’s life right now and I want there to be photographic evidence of that. I want them to see that even if I look tired, it’s because I loved them harder that day. I burned my thumb frying doughnuts and stayed up late making dreidel-shaped cookies, wrapping presents and replaying the sound of my son’s tiny voice singing “Oh Hanukkah” in my mind over and over again. Their happiness is my happiness. I made Hanukkah magical.
As you tell the story of the Maccabees, make sure you can also go back and tell your own story too. Because I realized while my love and direction will shape my children’s lives, they won’t remember what I look like right now, but the magic will stay with them forever.
Don’t hide your light this Hanukkah, let it shine.
If you’re up for sharing, email us pictures of you kindling the Hanukkah lights with your children (send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on our Facebook wall). Tell your story. Share your light.