What’s a “ghost” mom in photos?

We all know what a “ghost” is.

Ghost (noun):

The soul of a dead person believed to be an inhabitant of the unseen world or to appear to the living in the bodily likeness. (Merriam-Webster). Ghosts have been around for centuries, maybe longer.

These days, we’ve come to know what “ghosting” is.

Ghost·ing (noun):

The acts or practices of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone (such as a former romantic partner) by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc. (Merriam-Webster). Ghosting may have been around for centuries but likely we didn’t call it that.

So what exactly is a “Ghost” mom? I’ve heard of “Ghost” moms being mothers who cannot love unconditionally. I’ve also heard they cannot put their children or family needs before their own. But that’s not what we are talking about here.

The “ghost” mom I am talking about loves her family without reservation. She wants to take loads of snapshots of the kids and family to capture all the special and everyday moments. This “ghost” mom is there for the family. It’s just that she’s just not in the family pictures.

Looking back through family photos

dad and son "ghost" mom

As I look back through family photos, I realize I am a “ghost” mom. I have loved photography for a long time, so I suppose it makes sense. I’m the one with the camera.

Now that we all have smartphones with decent cameras, things have likely gotten better. Although, I still take the majority of images in our family. What’s going on here? Why are so many moms missing from the visual history of their family? And more importantly, what can they do about it?

I’m not the first person to write about this topic, and I certainly won’t be the last. I’m going to explore this idea anyway.

I’m sure there are also some “ghost” dads. This dynamic most likely plays out in same-sex relationships as well, but I can’t speak to just how.

And why are moms so often missing from family pictures?

Take the “ghost” mom quiz:

CAN YOU GUESS THE CORRECT ANSWER?
a. They don’t like the way they look.
b. They don’t want to share images on social media with them in them for fear of being judged.
c. They have a partner who doesn’t like to stop the “action” to take a picture.
d. They are a single mom.
e. It could be any or all of the above.

If you guessed that “it could be any or all of the above,” you are right!

So what causes the “ghost” mom issue and what can be done about it?

As you can see after taking the quiz above, with mom as the primary family photographer. She is more often than not behind said camera, rather than in front. If she isn’t comfortable with her looks, she won’t likely ask someone to take her picture. If she is single parenting, there may not be an adult to enlist in getting her in the pictures.

As far as resolving the issue, there are some easy fixes and some that are potentially more difficult to resolve.

Easy Fixes:

If mom has gotten in the habit of being the photographer and is therefore in few, if any images, she can try to remember every so often to ask Dad or the other parent to help her out. Communicating what you are needing, and what you are hoping for is important here as you begin to work out a new normal.

If mom is a single parent, then she may get less chances to jump into the shot unless she gets good at selfies, or asks her boy, girl or other friend to do the honors occasionally when the opportunity presents itself.

Not As Easy Fixes:

If Mom isn’t happy with the way she looks in photos, there are a few tips and tricks she can try to improve images with her in them. Barring that, Mom may have to realize that the importance of her being seen as a part of the family in images and being a part of the family history when folks look back at photos is more important than her sense of not looking good enough. That sounds simplistic and I realize it isn’t all that easy, speaking from personal experience, but I also know my kids love me and want to see me in photos and they don’t really care if I feel or look like BeyoncĂ©.

I also think every mother is more beautiful when her children are looking at her lovingly, hugging her, laughing with her. There are so many reasons to love ourselves and our bodies, even if they aren’t what they used to be when we were much younger. Get in more of the photos Mama, and begin to get comfortable with the beauty that is you now.

What is your experience with being a “Ghost” mom or maybe enabling one? I would love to hear about it.

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