I am no stranger to self-confidence issues and self-defeating comments—and I know it’s a struggle far too many of us deal with on a regular basis. I know I am not the only one who is guilty of chasing the illusion that is “perfection”. For a long time I thought perfect families (and by extension “perfect parenting”) looked like a perfectly kept house, tangle-free hair, and an always clean shirt. I know it’s unreasonable to think all these things, but I couldn’t help think there was something wrong with me. Why didn’t my house look like the ones on Pinterest? Why weren’t my kids the perfect angels that put their toys away without a meltdown? Why did every other mom seem to have time to put makeup on, shower and get dressed, when I was able to shower every couple days (if I was lucky)? Why did my toddler want to dress in mismatched and fading clothes (because she only wanted to wear the same three shirt/pant combinations daily), so she more closely resembled a homeless person rather than the GAP models other parent’s children looked like?
It didn’t help that the photos online showcased these inaccurate depictions of what daily life is like. Every picture I saw from one of my many Facebook friends included immaculately clean houses, perfectly coordinated outfits with a perfectly coordinated background, and their kids were eating only the healthiest of foods—no mac and cheese or hot dogs for them (which by the way, seems to be the only thing my toddler will eat nowadays).  There were no meltdowns, no dirty faces—only picture-perfect families with well-behaved, angelic children.
Don’t get me wrong, I have my fair share of “traditional” portraits adorning my walls; sometimes it’s nice to have “nice” pictures. However, these “nice” pictures don’t accurately represent my family (and all of our quirks). These pictures are just a “polished” version of what my family really is like. Throughout our lives, we’re taught to “smile for the camera” and that the only images worth showing the world are the ones which depict us as close to “perfect” as possible.
I feel there is something fundamentally wrong with this method of thinking and way of sharing ourselves with others. The more we see this idealized version of reality, the more we lose sight of the beauty right in front of us; the more we miss out on the joy in everyday life. We start to believe we NEED to obtain perfection to achieve happiness. In my eyes, my family is perfect (perfectly flawed, as we all are) and I wouldn’t change anything about us. Which then had me asking myself the question: “if I believe my family is perfect the way we are, why am I so afraid to share images that show us in our truest forms?”
Thinking we can only share images that show perfectly polished versions of ourselves is not doing us any favors. We are selling ourselves (and our families) short. By trying to attain the unattainable, we are missing all the beauty, humor, and awkwardness that is a part of REAL family life. We need to show ourselves a little kindness and start embracing life (and all its imperfections) if not for us, then for our children. For this reason alone, images of real, everyday life deserve the same attention and consideration you would give “traditional” photos. Our children need to know it’s okay to not always have it together and that among the curve-balls life can throw at us it is still full of love, humor, and genuine happiness.

This is why I started photographing families the way I do—no posing, no forced smiles—just authentic, family life and all its perfect imperfections. Our children already believe we are pretty darn incredible, yet we are still trying to be who society tells us we should be. We tell our children they are perfect just the way they are, but the only way we can really convince them of this is by our actions. The next time your child tells you you’re beautiful or that you are the best mom ever, don’t think about all the ways you fall short. Take the time to try and see what your children see—and just believe it.

The thing I have learned most from my time documenting families is this: your children idolize you and you are perfect in their eyes. They don’t care about how clean your kitchen is, if your hair is perfect, or if your shirt is wrinkled—they just want to spend time being loved by you. It’s time we stop pretending to be perfect, be a little vulnerable by showcasing our flaws, and see ourselves through the eyes of our children. We need to be kinder to ourselves and start showing (and believing) that despite all its imperfections, real life is perfect.