Invisible Mama.

I may delete this in a few years, or sooner. I may change my mind daily until then. I may keep it forever, just the same.

Family portraits come in all shapes and sizes. Colors and emotions. Ages and faces. Expressions and moods. Temperatures and climates. I know this variety perhaps more than a non-photographer because I see it all. I photograph it all. And even though this term barely applies in the land of digital vs. film, sometimes I’m surprised by what develops from the negatives in the long run.

Sometimes I worry that my kids have an invisible mama.

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Someone had to take this photo. I’m glad it was me. The short story is that I was practicing for an upcoming gig and it was my first time in awhile using a portable umbrella lighting kit. Someone had to take this photo. I had to take this photo. I’m in it and all around it behind the scenes. It’s my color. It’s my manual settings. It’s my timing. It’s my vision. On a good day, I see myself.

On a bad day, my invisibility is vastly obvious to me. The divide between my family and me is wide. On a bad day.

I’ve always struggled with invisibility. It’s no superpower. I grew up as one of five grieving kids in a blended family. My parents hand-picked a bedroom for me at the end of several winding hallways that overlooked the woods. It was like a treehouse, and large and quiet. I could disappear there whenever I wanted. Eventually I learned how to disappear in a crowd. Body language and voice tactics. Hair over my eyes. Shrinking into my skinny shoulders. When I wanted to hide, I could hide. I could sneeze and no one would say “Bless you” because no one heard me. And if they did, they’d seem bewildered to discover that I was there.

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These are the words and stories of a bewildered, grieving, gawky kid. It is not necessarily fact, or anyone else’s version of events. In 8th grade, I confided my invisibility fears to a friend and she confirmed that she could see it, but she didn’t know why it was there. She said she thought I could shine. At times. And that somehow I had learned to shrink away and shut down.

It was my own doing. I did it so well, that eventually I couldn’t control it and I’d disappear even when I didn’t want to.

There are a lot of reasons I’m a photographer, other than art just being in my bloodlines. The camera is like a shield to me. I can wield control in the midst of chaos, sadness, birth and continuing life. I am also very sensitive, internally and externally, so I see things a certain way. It’s a natural reflex I’ve been channeling for years. So I started to see myself develop in the negatives.

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And it changed over time. I started to learn to channel the radiating joy and laughter. I learned to shine, maybe not on command, but I shined so often, that it would just happen to coincide with social events. It was convenient like that.

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Sometimes I see this. I am this. Not always, but a lot of the time:

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Sometimes I see that smiling face on myself when I parent. I know that in many ways parenthood has opened me up and lifted me up into love and heart territory I didn’t know was possible. Then there’s the other side – the “off” days or weeks. I used to call them “gone days.” They’re often “gone weekends”. With Des in the picture, I feel less invisible but I have often felt that the bond between Cassidy and Scarlet doesn’t always leave room for me. Do you ever feel that way with one or more of your kids?

Do you ever think it’s your own fault?

Did I go wrong with her? With me? I know we have sacred time together five days a week but when the weekend hits, I start to disappear. I let it happen. I can’t control it. I never was a four-year-old girl with a live father. This is new territory to me. Surely had he survived, I would have thrown my arms around his neck and never let go. I remember how it felt to have him hold me – strong. When I’d wake up from various toddler-related nightmares, of rising trees and shaking earths, I was steady in his arms.

I lost that steadiness. She didn’t.

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And what of Des? He still smiles brightly when I walk into the room. He still calls for me when I walk out.

I don’t think of a second child as a do-over. I think there is ample opportunity for powerful relationships with both. I love and like them differently at different times, but at matching fierce levels. That is a fact. I ache for both. I worry about both.

I marvel at the ways Des seems like me. I marvel even more at the ways he doesn’t. Will my kids learn to disappear or shine?

And how much of each?

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I helped make this family, in a pretty major way. It would not exist without me. I invested all of my body and heart. So it’s strange that I feel it could go on without me sometimes. And I wonder how much of it is them, and how much of it is me?

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And the biggest part of my heart knows that my worst fears are not true. The family needs me as I need them. Every now and then I remember to put myself into the photo, fully, and make it so that you can see more than just my shadow. My blended background. We all hold each other up. We fill each other in too. We put back the color when the others seem to disappear..

Here I am..

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About Tamara

Tamara is a professional photographer at http://tamaracamera.com/, a mama of two, a writer/blogger at http://tamaracamerablog.com and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns. http://themotherofallmeltdowns.com. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter and son in glorious western Massachusetts.

Comments

Invisible Mama. — 142 Comments

  1. Interesting post Tamara. I always observe families and it seems that there are differences in the fondness from 1 child to another. It might just be that I'm not a Mother, but I hope there's no obvious preference when I'm blessed to join you all in the ranks of motherhood.

    I'm glad you remember to sneak in sometimes. You are beautiful and you were the most imp. contributor to the family existence 🙂

  2. In that first picture of you, I can see Des so clearly, Tamara. Amazing.

    I think among creatives, there's an element of hiding, morphing into a quieter, less obtrusive version of ourselves. We feed off of it to a certain extent, the not being seen and the ability to observe without the pressure of being the "looked at" one. It's all good: the more exuberant version and the more obscured version. I think we have to embrace them both!

    • I went back to look at the first photo to see Des. I actually see my grandmother! That photo was when I was so young (23) and I was sad in it, and it made me look so old. Cassidy took it after the first time we met and we were saying goodbye at the airport. Or maybe it was when we were saying hello. Neither of us can remember!

      I like that you can see the future in it – Des. Well, he used to be the future.

  3. I feel a dichotomy of sorts. I feel like some days, I'm just such a terrible mother and wife, that if I disappeared altogether, it would be noticed only in that things seem better and brighter. Yet, on the practical day-to-day side of things, I CAN'T disappear even if I want to. Always someone needing something, wanting something that seemingly, only I can fulfill, provide. And that in itself is twofold. I want desperately to be wanted and needed, and I want desperately not to be. I want to be seen, and not.

    I don't know.

    Anyhoo, I think you shine in the blogging world. So there's that. 🙂

    • I feel that way too. Maybe I should just disappear. I'm so lacking. I don't cook well. My cleaning kinda sucks. I get yelly sometimes, and impatient. Cassidy is level-headed and supports the family and cooks and cleans.

      I know I have my own gifts, but sometimes I feel like slipping out the back door.

      Other times, I know the ridiculousness of the thoughts.

      And thank you – shining here certainly makes me happy. Since last winter, it's like a whole new world I've discovered.

  4. I hope you don’t delete this because it was so beautifully written 🙂

    I have different relationships with all three of my kids, even between the twins. But like you said, you love them all the same, you worry over them the same.

    Today I worried if I was present enough for my older child, who was already feeling out of it being sick. I worried that I was spending too much time with the babies and not enough of him and felt guilty for it.

    Still, I know that tomorrow I’ll make sure to give him an extra warm hug, and that our relationship isn’t defined by one day, one inkling of a feeling, but over the years and months we’ve been building it.

  5. Hi 🙂 it’s not easy to make yourself vulnerable like this…but it is honest and brave…you are not alone…we all go through things that are not ‘picture perfect’…much as we would like them to be… that’s life…we all struggle in one way or another and talking about it helps…as far as kids go…i love my 3 with an equal amount of passion but there are differences in the relationships because they are their own person and that’s cool… i believe posts like this ‘help’ other people… so good job Tamara Ps just remember that the mother-child bond is a work in progress…it never stops… there is always time…little kids do gravitate towards their Dad around your daughters age…little boys do too…and i am sure you are not invisible and if you really feel that you are…then fight! [Big Hug] Charmaine

  6. This was beautiful Tamara! My husband travels a lot for work. When he comes home, my girls always run to him. "Daddy, Daddy!!" Hugs and kisses. As I watch it, I remember the times while he was gone when I yelled, or when I didn't give them that "quality" time, or when I was just too tired. I feel guilty and long for their enthusiasm to be directed toward me. Don't I deserve it after all?? I think sometimes, moms are just part of the fabric that makes up the lives of kids. They unintentionally take us for granted because they are with us all the time. We are the center of their universe and they, in their childlike minds, cannot imagine or fathom a life without us. That thought just doesn't occur to them.

    My three girls all have such different personalities and my relationship is different with each of them. I've come to accept and treasure those differences. I have also learned to appreciate the bond they have with their Daddy. After all, he did have a part in creating them as well and he deserves it, too. 🙂

    • Definitely on that last part!
      I think it would be interesting to have three. It’s not on the horizon for us now, or probably ever, but sometimes I wonder if having a third would be my own loneliness. Maybe a puppy will help with that when the kids go to school.
      It helps me to hear all of this moms that I always assume are more connected to their kids than I am..but maybe we all (or most of us) do struggle.

  7. I'm so glad you put there down and put it out here. It's important. It's hard but so important. You know yourself so well and there's something to be said about that. Because of it, I feel you're in more control then you think and you can choose when you want to share all of you. That's powerful.

    As for the kids? I struggle with this daily. Hourly. How to give each twin the space they need, the alone time, the mom time. Miles is my exact mini-me. I know just what he needs. Vaughn on the other hand…

    Of course I love both to pieces but I feel I fail on a daily basis to give them time with just me, alone.

    • Isn’t that interesting with identical (or not identical! I read your post! who knows??) twins, there’d be such a difference. Of course it would be that way because they’re separate people. With my kids being three years apart, they’re really never in any of the same phases.
      I feel the same daily failure basis. And by the time Cassidy is home, Scarlet is nearly in bed, and I am generally alone.

  8. I struggle with this sometimes. Michael gets to be the "fun" one who walks in the door at 5:00 pm to arms running to great him. He gets to be the one who plays and jokes around. I get to be the one who is here all day. I get the good, the bad, and the ugly. Really, he just gets the good. And the weekends? Forget about it. Malone and Michael are off together creating their own adventures. Sometimes they leave on Saturday at 10:00 am and don't get back until 4:00 pm. I'm wildly jealous of Michael. And the thing is, he's wildly jealous of me. He wishes he could be the one home with the kids everyday!

    But, I think what you're speaking about goes greater than just who is the primary care giver in your home. I've been around both of your kids a lot. I think that Scarlet's inner guts are very much your same inner guts in a lot of ways. I also think that Des's outer guts are very much like your outer guts. Does that make sense?

    There is no doubt in my mind that your family loves you oh so very much. You are not invisible to them, even when it feels like it. You have different gifts than Cassidy does. And you each give them to Scarlet and Des in very different and unique ways. xo

    • I think Cassidy is jealous of me too, and I’m jealous of him being the fun one that Scarlet wants, and being the one to have most of the say with money, shopping, household stuff. I think it all needs to be evened out, with me going to work more, and Cassidy watching the kids more in my absence. It makes us all miss each other in different ways.
      It’s nice to think of the kids having guts like mine, inner or outer.
      Thank you.

  9. What a beautiful and honest piece of writing. I too hope you don't take it down. It is so important for mothers to feel what they feel and then to admit it out loud. I don't think any of us do this enough. And I'm so glad that you posted beautiful pictures of yourself along side your little ones. I could certainly learn something from this!

    • Thanks! I love finding photos of myself. There are tons on my old computer and I really need to get them all on here.
      I struggled with how much to say, which is why I said I wanted to delete it one day – before my kids can read it.
      I wonder if that’s really going to be necessary, though.

  10. Tamara, this was put so beautifully and perfectly by you. I am pretty positive you are not invisible and so very glad you aren't, because I love you just as you are and truly so glad to know you and call you my friend. That said, I can tell you I sometimes feel a bit invisible myself int he evenings when Kevin first comes home from work. The girls haven't seen him all day and cling to him, because they have indeed been with me for the majority of it. And you are right there is definitely a bond between Emma and Kevin and now a bit with Lily, too. But will say Emma is more independent whereas Lily will more often show when she needs and wants me. Except for this past Saturday night, where Emma actually requested to fall asleep with me in our bed (first time in awhile where she did a bit of clinging to me and felt great to be quite honest). But sorry for the long, drawn out comment, but just wanted you to know you aren't alone and can relate a bit here for sure.

    • Scarlet winds up in our bed too! And faces Cassidy! And if he gets up to leave, she's ready to start her day. If I do, the two of them will cuddle for hours.

      Sob.

      I am glad you don't think I'm invisible. It's enough to have everyone believe in me. Maybe I'm Tinkerbell or something?!

  11. Oh my gosh what a beautiful post. You always just pour your heart and soul out for everyone and it is so engaging….because we all feel some sort of "likeness" to it and we register with your feelings. I was always that goofy, gawky kid, too. I think in some ways I am happy for that, I like how I have turned out in the long run. Not saying I haven't made mistakes, I have made tremendous mistakes…but I am happy with where I am today….and you can't keep looking back and behind you because then you are going to miss what is right in front of you….your future. Look forward my friend, don't think about tomorrow….just TODAY.

    • It’s true. These days I never get sad that I was the goofy, gawky kid. Not at all. I think it helped me in a lot of ways. And in other ways, I may never fully grow out of it. I just never imagined it would happen with parenting too.
      Makes perfect sense, though.

  12. This reminds me of how I feel when my girls are with my sister-in-law. They adore her, and I used to feel left out. But I'll always be their mommy. 🙂 It's taken me a while to not be jealous of their relationship!

    • So true. You’re always their mommy at the end of every day. At every part of every day. My daughter is also very close to her three grandmothers, but when she’s overtired or cranky or hurt or sad, it’s never them she runs to. It’s often Cassidy first, but hey, I’m happy to be second. Being fifth in line? I..couldn’t do that. I’m her mom.

    • I appreciate you sharing that because I would never have known that. You seem to be such a shining force of your family! Of course you are, and these thoughts aren’t necessarily facts.

  13. Another though provoking post, Tamara. I can identify with many of these feelings, and I think they are probably common for all of us, though at different moments and for different reasons. You should insert yourself into more photos, however, with a smile like yours!

  14. Don't you dare delete this, Tamara! This is so beautifully written, so beautifully honest. I think every mother struggles with the ups and downs, the times we shine and the times we feel invisible. I see so much beautiful light in your writing and your photos. And this line perfectly captures what every parent feels: "…in many ways parenthood has opened me up and lifted me up into love and heart territory I didn’t know was possible." Keep on shining, Tamara!

    • Thank you!! I might not delete it after all. I was worried about Scarlet reading it one day but now I realize there is nothing here that I would want to hide from her one day. She will know that relationships are complicated, and she will always know I love her fiercely.

  15. Looking back, I was often an invisible teenager also. (I managed to spend 5 1/2 weeks one summer on a trip to Israel in high school with the same 40 people and at the end of the trip people didn't even realize I was in the same group as them…I also won "the never speaks" award.) I've learned as an adult finally to not be invisible. It's too soon to say what my relationship with my daughter will be like vs. the one she has as a father, but there were moments in the first few days as I watched my husband change all her diapers, swadle her, bond with her as I healed physically and wondered if I wasn't be active enough with her.

    • They had a “never speaks” award?! How weird! Did you feel proud or ashamed (or neither?) to accept it?
      I hear you about that beginning. My husband changed more diapers in the first week than me. In fact, he really did them all. However, I had to heal from the nine months of pregnancy and the bodily exhaustion of labor, and..it was his time. I got that. Watching them fall in love was just what I could have wanted, even if it stings a bit too.

  16. Thanks, Nina! I might not..and happy to find you on Bloglovin today.

    I think this might be the best thing I've read this morning. Relationships aren't defined by days or feelings, you're right. There are months and years to build and connect. And kids…they need the parents they were given.

  17. Thank you. I hope it does help someone else. I hope it helps me. I really just wrote it because it was pretty much screaming in my mind yesterday. I was totally going to post something entirely different!

    And yes, the mother-child bonds never stop evolving.

  18. Aw, thanks! Hearing that from you is like Christmas!!

    I think the fondness can change and I can't speak for all parents. It's probably very common to like and even love your kids at different levels. It's probably something people don't speak about a lot. My parents had five of us and the bonds were all so different.

    And still changing!

  19. You say the biggest part of your heart knows your fears are not true. Yet it's often that smallest part that is the loudest and we wrestle with those fears. I think our children love us equally but differently than they love their fathers, the same way we love each of them equally but differently. Keep this post, Tamara, and read it when you feel invisible. Hopefully it will remind you that in actuality you shine.

    • It is the smallest parts that are so loud and powerful! I love the idea that they love us the way we love them – equally but oh so differently. And I do remember a friend once saying to Scarlet, "Dadas are the best aren't they?" And she said, "Mamas are too."

  20. Of course I cannot attest to the differences between a first and second child but I do think about it. One thing I know is that even though I may be absent in those photos, like you, you are the driving force behind the creation of your family.

    Even though sometimes it may not be captured through the lens — it is often captured in the hearts of those that love us. And that … is ok and enough for me.

    Your beautiful spirit, awkwardness, ferocity and independence will shine in each child differently but all still a reflection of you.

    Hugs and love to you mama!

    xoxo | Lanaya
    http://raising-reagan.com

    • I think that is ok and enough for me too..mostly. That’s why I don’t write about it all of the time. It’s not always present, or realized.
      Hugs and love to you too!

  21. Such a beautiful post and I think you articulate what a lot of mommies feel. I’m home all day with my daughter- feed her, dress her, change her, everything! Yet daddy is her BFF and the one she wants. Sometimes I appreciate the break but other times it makes me sad. But I guess that’s a mommy’s job…do the behind the scenes work. I’ve realized too that most of our photos are of my husband and our daughter. I’m usually snapping the pictures on my i-phone. That’s ok, I guess I do prefer to be behind the scenes anyway!

    • I generally do too! I love being behind the camera and I’d probably argue with the lighting/settings over anyone else trying. I never realized that with parenting, behind the scenes is the last place I’d want to be.

  22. Beautiful post Tamara. I feel like I could disappear sometimes. It’s even easier as they become more independent and are more selective in their hearing of your voice. It’s a dark, lonely place and then something simple will happen – a smile, a hug, a text (yes, even a text) will bring me back to them. At least a little bit but it’s enough to pull me through those moments of invisibility. I related to so many aspects of this piece and I’m thankful for your ability to be so honest with us, it helps us be honest with ourselves.

  23. Such an interesting post Tamara. I feel like my hubby and older daughter have a stronger bond than perhaps he does with my younger daughter…could it be because my younger daughter is very much like him, actually, yes, I think so. I think we tend to use our weekends to divide and conquer, and it seems like he winds up with the older one more often…we need to do a better job of dividing it up. I think as moms we often feel invisible. Let’s be honest…we do probably 95% of the grunt work for about 5% of the credit. Daddies by their very nature get to shine more.-Ashley

  24. I have shields and swords too. Ummm….skull caps, Doc Martens, tattoos, running shoes, and the list goes on and on. So I get that in a big way.

    As far as my invisibility? I think there is something very positive to be said for my or anyone’s invisibility as a mother. It means our kids not only rely on us but they know they CAN rely on us. It means we are always there, like the air conditioning compressor humming in the background. You know it’s there and working and don’t have to think about it. I hope my kids never have to think about that. I think you and I had to maybe think about those things too much when we were younger.

    • I think so often I get upset that Scarlet needs help all of the time. And one day I’ll miss it. I’m going to make it a point to embrace every request and question of hers with more gusto. The thing is, kids are forgiving. And like I said before, kids need the parents they have..to be their parents. When I remember that, it’s much better for me.

  25. This is really interesting, Tamara (I almost wrote “Tam” because I feel like we’re friends and was going to create a nickname for you. But I feel like you might not like that nickname so much).

    I love reading your posts, especially the ones about your kids, because I always feel like I can relate to them. I don’t have kids, which you know, but somehow your posts always bring out something just about…living that I CAN relate to.

    For me, the relationship with my parents was always the opposite. My mom and I were thick as thieves. I thought my dad, whom I loved, came from a different planet. His favorite story about me is when I told him at age 4 that my mom and I had the same brain and he had a different brain. I can’t imagine that he didn’t ever feel left out, because quite frankly, he was. I’ve always been the kind of person who liked one on one time. I don’t do groups. I want to be the best, the only. It’s something that I’ve had to work on over the years. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child.

    Anyway, I look at all of the pictures of your family and always wonder if you ever feel absent. But something you said a while back has always stayed with me – you ARE in those pictures. Even if it’s a reflection of you taking the photo in the sunglasses lenses of Cassidy or your sister or someone else. You aren’t invisible. It’s just not possible.

    • You can totally write “Tam!” I think we’re on nicknames basis here! I love “Tam” too. It’s a nice one. Much better than “Tammy.”
      I am happy that you can relate to my posts, despite not having children. ‘Cause you are a child (well, were) of your parents so you can see the way it was with you, and the way it is now. It changes. Always.
      And the same is definitely said of parenting. Oh boy.

  26. I feel the same way a lot of the time. I am invisible in photos…I wrote about it earlier this year. And my daughter and husband have a bond that makes me happy in some ways, sad in others…because I don’t have that same bond with her. She doesn’t share with me as freely as she does with him. And I so wanted that kind of relationship with my daughter. This is truly beautiful Tamara…I hope you don’t delete it.

    • I don't think I will, thank you!

      Interesting. And I'd love to hear more about how it is with the boys. I do feel blessed a lot to have a son and a daughter because I can really see the differences. Des seems so independent just like Scarlet, but maybe there's a lot of mushiness for his mama in there that will stay.

  27. Moms are often absent in photos, because they’re the ones taking the photo. Just as you can’t always see a tree’s roots, but without the roots, there is no trunk, no branches, no leaves. No place for squirrels to mate.

    Dad does have a different spot, and often, it’s the jungle gym, the gateway to baseball and junk food and rock ‘n’ roll. But, when a child gets a tummy ache, or fever, or someday, a heart break, they often say, “I want my mommy.”

    • haha! I was so touched by the analogy, but I did laugh at the squirrels mating part.

      It is true – that last part. She really wants me to blow her nose (yay?) and it was me she vomited on once. (Yay again?)

  28. I know how you feel, I’m always the photographer and never in the photos. I worry that some day my kids will say they have no photos of their mother because I was busy making sure what was in front of the camera looks perfect, and I rarely look perfect. 🙂 Please don’t ever delete this post it is beautiful in every way.

    • Thank you so much. I do think I will keep it. And I imagine you get it a lot as the photographer. I’ve been a smidge better about being in the photos. It will make a nice (and reachable) New Year’s Eve resolution.

  29. The way you captured the feelings of invisibility as the mom is so right on. I feel like I shrink daily. I feel my world being eclipsed by the teenage world and the tween world and the toddler world. I feel the same way you do with Isabella. Leo can connect with her and calm her down in a way that I can't and I really think it is because of me. I think I see in her the things I wish I didn't pass on to her. I really love this post and the pictures. You are such a bright spot in my life that I had no doubt of your shining capabilities.

    • So interesting because so many of you seem to be to be the center of your children's universes, and I feel like I'm not one of those people.

      Now I see that many of you feel this way too, so maybe it's not as bad as it seems to be on my end.

  30. I hope you never delete this. This post has to feel like a bit of a release for you. You felt something and you let it out. That’s a hard thing to do for some people. Your relationship with Des is something special. I have a bond with Adrian that only he and I understand. It wasn’t always there though. It grew over time. Moms and their boys is a relationship of pure love just like a father and daughter. I have that with my dad and never really got along with my mom. It’s OK. That was our time, those are our memories, my mom has them with my brother. It never meant she loved me any less.

    • That is interesting. The mother/son bond and the father/daughter one. I had lost my father young so I was very attached to my mom always. I don’t know what it would have been like. I do know in a family of four, there is a lot of room for interesting relationships to evolve.

  31. Oh, daddies and daughters. Such a special bond! And that whole mother-daughter clash can get pretty ugly in the teenage years. But don’t you worry, she’ll be calling you daily when she is an adult trying to navigate work, wife-hood, parenting, etc. I only have boys, and they looooove their mama. I know my husband has felt left out at times. But my 3 1/2 yr old is starting to get more excited about doing stuff with dad, which is great!

    Time to break out the cellphone for some “selfies” with your kids! I am the main photographer in our family (although I don’t have nearly the skill you do) and it’s the only way I’m ever in any photos with them! (Although sometimes at family get togethers I make a deal with my sister for her to take pics of me with my kids, and I take some of her with hers.)

    • I do love the phone self portraits. They can be adorable although of course I shudder at my own face since I'm not used to it!

      Des is definitely into me, but he's so independent that he is very happy with Cassidy too, or with sitters, or with being alone. I'm curious to how it will develop.

  32. Sometimes I wish I could be invisible. Sometimes I feel invisible. Sometimes I swear I talk but my kids don’t hear it. It’s weird how I can be the center of everything one moment and feel completely detached from everything the next. This is such a beautiful post, Tamara. Thank you. Really.

  33. You know what? Sometimes most of us are in the background. Blending in, being the background. And the background can be very special and beautiful, too. This is why photographers choose them so carefully. I think it’s perfectly wonderful to be in the background a lot of the time. Being out in front all the time would be exhausting.

    Pretty much any 4 year old will forget mom exists, especially when Mr. Wonderful is around. Especially girls. They connect with us all week. They feel like a mini-me. When daddy is home they are special and beautiful and they are daddy’s princess. I’m so glad Scarlet gets to have a sweet daddy who makes her feel like a safe, loved, princess. The price for this is that we mommies fade into the background. We are their work week. He is their weekend of fun.

    I’m going to tell you what my doctor said to me one of the last times I saw her “You need to stop apologizing for who you are.” Who. you. are. I mean, really, how much do most women do this? We feel guilty for needing down time, we feel guilty when we don’t need down time, we feel guilty for being too much and not enough. We feel guilty for giving them too much or not enough of pretty much anything we give them, from hugs to juice and scoldings and baths. It’s ridiculous how hard we are on ourselves.

    I see a lot of myself in you, and I think this is why we were meant to find each other in this great big world. I think a lot of people see a lot of themselves in you. Please, never erase who you were today. Or any other day. You are perfectly wonderful. I wish I could make you tea and bake you cookies. And play with your kids.

    • I read this whole thing right before a job I was nervous for today. So thank you. It’s so true – there is such a positive that my kid has a great dad.

      And your doctor? I need to see him/her.

  34. Oh yes, Natalie is all about her Daddy. But she still wants me sometimes. She’ll climb on my lap and go, “My Mama.” However, she doesn’t listen to me much. I’ll say something and nothing. Tom says something and she jumps to attention.

    • Scarlet barely listens to me! And I know your husband is away for long periods of time. My husband works very long days. I know it's not the same, but I do get that they need their special time too.

  35. Beautifully written. It's amazing that when we practice something…whether consciously or not…we become good at it. Learning to make yourself invisible…sometimes you feel invisible even when you're not viewed that way. I can relate to that feeling…especially with my kids sometimes. Because I'm always there..it's as if they don't see me at times… but their Dad, boy! Always visible.

  36. Man.. I think we all feel this way at some point especially once we become moms. I mean.. we have to take a backseat to the “attention” because of our role. Dads, not so much. I’m not discrediting dads by any means – their role is vital, too… just different. As for the literal picture – I have to make a conscious effort to make sure we get at least one or two photos of the 5 of us every year and I’m sadly noticing the only photo of me with my girls are selfies. But I guess it’s better than nothing! 🙂

    • True, better than nothing. I wouldn't discredit dads for a second, and I know every case is different and some dads are more around than moms, etc. but in our family, I do feel exactly like what you described.

  37. don't delete, if you do, always save.

    I know what you mean, I am best friends with my eldest, we are always on the same wavelength. I fight with him, I laugh with him, I *get* him. My husband–not so much, they bump heads more than a little bit! My youngest son is attached to his daddy though. I have the normal mommy love but he sparkles when his dad is around. I don't think any of it is our faults, I just think these things go in waves sometimes.

    • That's interesting! I think I'd be most heartbroken if Des AND Scarlet favored Cassidy. My only saving grace is that I have them five days a week, and Des seems rightfully obsessed with both of us.

  38. I really hope you don't delete this because I think it's so beautifully written! I find myself pulling the invisible act many times. Eyes to the ground, tucking my shoulders in. It's because I don't want to be seen. I'm more comfortable that way.

    • I won't delete it! I have days in public where I'm staring at the ground, and then days in which I'm locking eyes with everyone and grinning. I really think I'm a true ambivert.

  39. Oh, you definitely shine! It looks like you must have a shutter release. Have you ever just set up the camera and used it while playing with Cassidy and the kids? Most likely they'll be horrible from a photography perspective, but there could be a couple of gems in there and definitely a lot of great memories. Just don't be afraid to shine…you do it so well.

  40. You are an amazingly beautiful person (inside and out). Kids, just have different phases and especially since you are home- it probably stands out more. I know my kids both long for daddy at the end of the day. Some days it bothers me more than others- but I know I am loved equally.

    The photo of you in the mirror is a gorgeous image.

  41. Oh so beautiful Tamara. I love seeing the older pictures of you. You’re so beautiful inside and out.

    I consider myself the memory keeper of my family. It’s a role I take seriously, but not one that I think I’m particularly good at. Like your photos, mine don’t contain many of me. Every now and then, though …

  42. I was steady in his arms too. I miss that. Through raising you, I learned a new kind of steadiness called unconditional love. Hey, babe, that’s forever.

  43. I liked to escape at times as a child.

    Like a warm breeze, even though we may seem invisible, we are still providing warmth and comfort. You are a ray of sunshine to them and so many, Tamara. Shine on!

    • I liked to escape and read. Even now, it’s hard for me to eat dinner and not read at the table! That was my escapist act.
      Thank you so much for these lovely words.

  44. Oh Tamara, this was so beautiful! That is such a cute picture of you with short hair! I can see what you mean and I've noticed it in your picture on the right hand side (the sidebar). You seem to be less confident at times, but I read your words and get to know you and I often wonder, but she's so amazing! I hope she sees it! I love when I see you somehow in the pictures. I always think it is apart of your intention of being in the picture somehow because you are right…you all need each other and you hold each other up.

    I do wonder how I'll be with my kids growing up with 2 parents in the picture since I had mainly one in my home growing up. I think it will bring joy to my face and I'll be like you and try to allow the kids to each have their closeness with Daddy without feeling excluded from the picture. 🙂

    • That was the shortest my hair ever was!

      I am definitely less confident at times, and other times, I've got a better handle on the triple thing – the writing, photography and the kids. Sometimes it's one or two out of three. I imagine it will always come and go at least a bit.

  45. That was such a beautiful post, Tamera. Must have taken you a lot of courage to press that "Publish" button because it was very raw and personal. (I loved every bit of it!) I'm very new to photography. Part of me is bummed that I cannot be in the photos with my kids, but at the same time I look at those pictures and see myself in them – like what I was feeling when I snapped that photo, or that I captured them on camera just as I see them through my own eyes.

  46. Tamara, I can really relate to this. There are nights when I pick up the kids from after-school and day care and someone cries because they want daddy to pick them up. Getting to spend all day with daddy is a treat, but spending all day with mommy is par for the course. The funny thing is that Ken and I have talked about wanting to swap places. I guess the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence..

    • I think Cassidy acknowledges that my days are probably harder than his are, but I imagine he'd like more of what I have, and I'd like more of what he has. We're working on it. Well I'm working on working more on weekends and then he has kid time and I make more money.

  47. I can’t even tell you how often I feel invisible in my family. Most of the time we come home from vacation without me in a single picture because even though my photographic skills are nonexistent I’m usually holding the camera.
    And, living with only boys, I feel like I’m the one always saying “no” and that they all have more fun when I’m not around.

  48. Don’t you dare delete this post! I am so jealous that you are so talented on not photography and writing. I feel invisible sometimes because I miss so many of the small moments while I am writing. I hope I don’t become invisible. And you DO shine!

  49. Wow. This is so beautiful and so intensely honest and I felt like I just read your finest memoir in it's deepest moments… You, Tamara- radiate, even in your quiet hiding places. You were created to sink into the landscape and take it in- at times, so you can then pour back out all the treasures within, that you collected in your invisible place.

    I love that your friend told you that years ago.

    I also know and truly believe that you were made exactly how you are as a gift. I know that you question it, perhaps even hate it at times- those parts of you. BUT, they are what make you so incredibly unique and those moments that you fight to stray from who you are? They are wasted moments. Embrace the gifts that have been given to you- every one of them. And see withing those piercing painful breathes, that the air you take in- always comes back out in new light. The power behind your perspective is a beautiful work of art.

    As are you my friend. Our Creator had a good day, when He made you.

    • My friend Tammi said something similar above about how I was made the way I was, and yes I question it, but I shouldn't be apologizing for it.

      So I'm trying not to do so.

      I will certainly not delete this, especially since you think it might fit in my memoir, which I would love.

      I've been reading this comment all day now. Over and over.

  50. You are an absolutely stunning photographer and it would be a shame for you to delete this post.

    This hits home for me a little bit too because I recall when I was younger my parents being wildly invisible to me, however, they are now more present in my life than ever and I do not hold it against them that they were invisible in my youth – they were trying to accomplish their goals in order to make a better life for me, they were working for me. I couldn't appreciate them more for that and I know your family thinks or will think the same about you!

  51. I see you in this so much and yet I see myself too. The connections, the attachments, everything that we are a part of but yet at the same time – we are not there in our entirety. You mentioned about the family moving on without you – in your family, I don't think that is possible. You are such an integral part of it all – you are the glue that holds it all together. But the invisible mom feeling – I get it, I feel it myself more often than I can count.

    • It's a terrible feeling, but it's enlightening for me to read these responses. I remember being terrified of having children because before I did, I wasn't really a big fan of children. I always thought it would be different when they're mine, and of course it is, but not in the expected ways.

  52. I so can relate. I struggle whether I am a good mom, or an invisible mom. I was a single parent for many years and had to work a lot of hours to give my kids the lifestyle I wanted them to have. I feel guilty for not being there for the two older ones as much as I can be now with the youngest. We do what we need to do and we aren't invisible, just moms.

    • So true. Not invisible at all. And of course I have those fantasies about those dumb Christmas movies in which the moms go on strike, but I do imagine that if I went on strike, my family would miss me a lot!

  53. Wow! What a powerful and beautifully written post. I seriously hope you never take it down, like ever! You have such a presence, whether in a photo or not…that is what your kids, your family, your friends know you as. God forbid…that is what they will remember you by if they do have to move on without you. You kids will look at a photo and know their mom took it, she's a great photographer on top of being a great mother. You will never be invisible to them. They probably can't convey it now, but you are a staple in their hearts and minds…always present.

    You look so lovely in all your photos, your wedding one is especially beautiful. Your true happiness was definitely captured in that moment.

    • Thank you! That was a very happy moment. I was waving to close friends – people who have seen me glow for years. I'm very grateful for my photographer that day.

      I have learned from his example!

  54. I know I can't fully understand how you feel, not being a mom yet, but I do understand that feeling of being invisible. I spent a lot of my life being or feeling invisible, wishing I wasn't. I never felt like I fit in. And I have to admit, one of my fears in having children is what if they bond stronger to my husband? I didn't have much of a dad until my step-dad came into my life but I was already 12 or 13 by that time. How will I feel watching my kids have the thing I didn't have? I think to have these feelings and to admit them is to be human. I love that you, by sharing your humanity, give us permission to be human as well. Hugs! You are amazing. I see you. I do.

    • It sure is interesting. In a lot of ways, when Scarlet inched closer to four, I had my breath suspended and then when she reached four and still had her dad, I let out a large breath. It was cleansing, actually. It healed a lot of old pains.
      And I have a friend who is terrified to have children because she thinks her husband and his family will take her kids away from her? That stuff doesn’t happen – only in movies, I tell her. I do understand a milder form of that fear, though. My husband seems so much more visible than I do.

  55. First of all LOVE the photos. I didn’t want to ask the DUH question about how you did the last one but I have to ask. Are you in a mirror outside or someone took that of you and Des? Looking back on my little-girl-hood I was a daddy’s girl. I went everywhere with him – loved him inside out. Even after my brother was born seven years later I was still a daddy’s girl. Though my mom and I paired up for girl stuff when daddy and my brother did “boy stuff” I was still a daddy’s girl. I can’t even tell you how the bond developed with my mom. All I know is that daddy and I were hard to get along once I reached puberty pretty much until I was engaged to be married. We are totally cool now, but my mom is my best friend.

    • I love questions and there’s nothing DUH about it! It’s at a local place called “Art in the Orchard” and people do art pieces and sculptures in an apple orchard and you can go and play among them and pick some apples and pumpkins and just have a grand old time. This piece of art was a mirror house and you could look in the many mirrors and see the mountains and trees behind you. So an outdoor mirror house! You couldn’t go inside of it, but it was really fun for photos, and stay tuned because next week I’ll have a whole photography post about it.

    • That is so tough. My mom’s mom is 100 and my mom is there for her all of the time, while also being there for her FIVE children, her husband, her five various animals, and her grandkids. The balance is probably nearly non-existent for her. I admire this.

  56. I hope that you don’t delete this post because it’s beautiful. Truly. You’ve captured so many thoughts and feelings that I struggle with (and have struggled with putting down on paper). I do feel invisible and have for much of my life and it’s definitely something that I’ve struggle with a lot. Due to a number of circumstances that all seemed to come one after the other, my husband does have a stronger bond with the boys than they do with me. They are most definitely daddy’s boys and yes, I do feel like they would get along fine without me. I’ve thought about if and how it relates to me losing a parent at a young age and I don’t know. Thank you for sharing this. I love that you did.

    • This gave me such a lightbulb which is really the best part of getting blog comments. The give and take and the conversations going on here. As you know, I lost my father when I wasn’t even four and I have two young children..and maybe imagining their life without me is a coping mechanism for my own pain at losing my father. And I survived that, so of course I know they would..but certainly not easily. Like it was for me. Not easily.

  57. This is beautiful, Tamara. I have a certain degree of invisibility at times, too. And then, like you say, at other times I feel like I shine. There are times that I feel like my husband is "the fun one" simply because I am the one asking them to brush their teeth and get dressed and pick up their toys all day long. But then every so often I can bust out of that and surprise everyone with kitchen opera. I hope that my boys remember the different roles of mine. 🙂

  58. You do shine, Tamara, and I can see that light in the smiles of your family.

    The camera gives us a glorious pass to be places and capture things we might not otherwise be able to, doesn’t it? It is also a wonderful shield that allows us to be present, yet to be apart and not responsible to fully take part in any given event.

    I’ve been our unofficial family and volunteer church photographer. My experience has been that the longer and more often we take up our cameras and stay separate, the more invisible we feel, and the harder it is to actually jump back to experiencing life rather than just recording it.

    I have finally started putting my camera down more often and have discovered the joy of joining in. 🙂

    I pray you find much peace and joy this Christmas with your family!

  59. tamara, it's so interesting how your feelings of invisibility transcended into your career of being behind a camera…because i also think that's what makes you such a talented photographer…that you're able to make yourself disappear so that your objects can naturally be themselves. but also so glad that you found your ways to shine!

  60. Hello- delayed response b/c well, I was wandering outside the internet in real life, argh… I despise I didnt get this sooner!!! OMG- do not ever delete this post I beg of you, Sweet T, it is simply FABULOUS! beautifully written… wow…. I am almost in tears… as usual…

  61. I love this so much Tamara, don't you ever delete it. I struggle with this whole motherhood thing – especially when my kids go off to their Dad's, a world I am not apart of. But I'm still their Mom, right? Do they remember our bond, our love, our memories? Gosh, I hope so. Then enter my step kids… I sometimes feel – Im not sure how really – weird, sad, uneasy – when my stepdaughter gives me a big hug and tells me she loves me. She loves me because I am here now, but as soon as she is at her Mom's, she has all the mother she needs. I feel like, out of sight, out of mind. Mu husband thinks I'm crazy – but I feel that the love is so very circumstantial. He then tells me to be careful that i don't act that way as I may just turn our relationships into my worst fear. And, I think that is the truth. Our relationships are defined by how WE choose to define them. What we think of them, they will become. If we worry the bond is stronger with the other, then it will be. If we nourish our bond because it is the best bond around, it will be. Or so I keep trying to tell myself.

    • Wow, surprised to hear that. You always seem so…there…in your writing. And I imagine you’re a lot less invisible than you think because of the amazing adventures and traditions that are there because of YOU.

      • Writing is one of the best ways I've found that keeps me "there". Maybe since I've been writing less I've been feeling more invisible, more insecure. Like everything else, it's cyclical. These feelings come and go,but I think it's good that they do as they help you make adjustment, changes, keep you focused and remind you of what your end goal is.

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  63. Thank you so much! I do really use it in my career. A lot, in fact. And sometimes it makes me a little sad and other times, I realize it has to be this way when I work and that I can change it if I really want to. I usually don't.

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