This Blurry Photo Perfectly Captures the Loneliness of Motherhood
There is a picture making its way around the Internet that is a lot different from the pictures that normally go viral. Unlike other picture-perfect photos, this is a blurry photo, so blurry it's hard to see. The image is out of focus, the viewer left feeling dizzy and disoriented, and when you look at it, you squint and think, huh? What am I missing?
And that, says the mom that snapped it, is exactly the point.
The original blurry photo now shared around the world was first snapped by Brandy Ferner, a mom of two kids from southern California. Ferner is the host of the parenting podcast An Adult Conversation and shared the image on An Adult Conversation's Facebook page, where it immediately went viral, garnering now upwards of 53K shares. She told Good Morning America that she was out to lunch with a friend when she took the photo, struck by the scene of one mother literally isolated from her group, caring for a baby all alone.
Watching from her perch nearby, Ferner noticed how the mother worked tirelessly to keep the baby happy while the birthday celebration went on without her and not once did anyone think to ask if the mother needed anything, or make an effort to include her. To Ferner, that mother set aside from the group, all alone and forgotten, was the perfect living example of the “unseen” work that goes into motherhood–and how easy it is to forget about mothers doing the “invisible work” of caring for children while the rest of the world carries on.
“*This picture is blurry for a reason,” she wrote in her Facebook post. “I'm not trying to put this specific family on blast, but I am trying to shine a light on these little moments of motherhood that can add up to feeling isolated and resentful, and this one captures it perfectly.
“While at lunch yesterday, I watched this mom entertain her baby with a balloon, with walking around, with touching the art on the wall, etc. (we've all been there) the entire time her family enjoyed their birthday celebration with food and drinks and lively conversation. No one stepped in to let HER enjoy being part of the group. This image, with the mom in pink on the left (with her baby touching a balloon) is an accurate visual of the constant, UNSEEN care-taking of motherhood many moms do that leave us out of the group. Either no one noticed the subtle work she was doing, or no one wanted to give up their enjoyment to let her have a taste of it too. I considered offering to hold her baby so she could rejoin her family for a bit, but I knew that was gonna be weird.
“And people wonder why postpartum depression, rage, and resentment are a common part of modern motherhood. 🤔 We don't just need better diagnosis and doctors to help new moms – we need our families and friends to notice us, and to help bring us back to the table.
“I vividly remember this stage and I remember writing in a journal that I never wanted to forget how isolating it felt at dinners and parties to be walking a baby around while everyone sips on wine and tickles the baby's feet as I pass them instead of offering to help me eat without a human on me. I never wanted to forget it because I knew that ‘Gramnesia” would probably erase it from my brain. I wrote it down so I would remember to help my then grown-up kids and spouses in this department – especially the moms.”
“Please share this far and wide so that people in different phases of life and roles in families can see where these cracks form for us moms, and where they can easily step in and help us. Even if they can't understand it because they haven't lived it, this picture perfectly illustrates the divide that happens when no one steps in.#bringusbacktothetable #gramnesia #motherhood#defaultparent”
I remember feeling this way, especially with my first baby. She was born in May and I spent what felt like a lifetime over the summer ducking out of family parties, excusing myself to the car, and missing countless meals to feed her, change her diaper, or just soothe her in a quiet place when she got overwhelmed. I remember resenting that I had to miss out on everything “fun” and no one seemed to care. It's easy to get stuck in that place and feel resentful about motherhood, but thanks to Ferner's blurry photo–and the attention it has received–we can all remember that we are not alone, that we are doing important work, and that hey, maybe, it might help to speak up and ask someone to bring us a darn piece of cake, too.