behind the picture

I took a picture this morning.


It was of Samuel eating berries and whipped cream and waffles. And he’s so happy in it. Like I mean ridiculously happy in it – can’t you see it in the super exuberant smile and grin and berry juice plastered all over him? And after all, I did give him extra whipped cream. And crispy bacon.

But you know what? What’s the truth?

I hesitated posting it.

Ha. My word. I can’t even type it because it is so ridiculous, in a way.

But that’s the truth. There were these reasons, these doubts, these things behind the picture that I didn’t really want to share in that moment. So silly, really. First because the waffles were Eggo’s new gluten free waffles (which, in my world is awesome) that I didn’t make them from scratch and even though they are gluten free are for sure full of junk that isn’t good for you. And then, then instead of seeing Samuel I saw the kitchen behind him. With the silverware basket on the island and a cabinet door not closed and chip bags open on top of the fridge and stuff littering my counter.

And truthfully again, I tried to crop in the picture so you wouldn’t see the behind the picture. You know the normal stuff. And as soon as I realized what was going on I thought no way – this is my real.

Let me tell you. It was not Pinterest worthy. It wasn’t a picture of the neat kitchen. It wasn’t organic fabulous home made waffles.

It was just real.

It was us, in the moment, sitting in a kitchen with remnants of breakfast but enjoying little things.  Living life in the middle of the most seemingly imperfect background and yet joyful.


Oh sweet mom reading this sweet little note of mine pounded out late on a Monday night,  I’ve realized over the last year how much I wanted to tell you the tale of a life all put together and to give 15 steps to finding happiness. I’ve also realized that sometimes I just wanted to shout I quit trying and to throw the motherhood/provider/girl towel in for just a moment.

I want to give wisdom. Or answers. Or words that the hard stuff will vanish if you just do this or that or read that or try that program. But as life ticks by and the moments build up into months I’ve realized that most of life is spent living wrestling with the tension of living in a world that is mostly behind the picture.

It’s in the moments spent after snapping that little one with the berries all over their face while you wipe down the kitchen and realize that berries stain grey clothing and hands. It’s in dealing with kids that don’t listen and push your buttons and empty chip bags put on the top of the fridge because no one wanted to throw them away.

I wanted to write profound words about life behind the picture. And they’re not really that amazing or earth shattering or any of that. But it’s this.

Be proud of your behind the picture.

Oh my word, yes, yes, yes… be proud.

Be proud of the stuff tucked in the corners of the picture of your life. Be proud of the mismatched boots or books in the corner or messy backseat with kids cheering as you pull through Dairy Queen. Be proud of the times where you aren’t perfectly put together. Be proud of the times where you pick up the phone and say I need help right now and you let the tears fall.

Be proud.

Even if the picture isn’t perfect.


We have those moments, don’t we?

We have those moments where it is just heavy and hard and we feel alone.

We have those moments when we wonder if our life picture is the only messy one.

I know I do.

When I was younger I used to ponder what the meaning of life was and thought that someday I would figure it out. Hahaha – I thought for sure by the time I was 40 it would all make sense and I would be this wise person sharing her heart. Instead,  I’m just me, wearing yoga pants with my hair in a pony tail, worn out from the day and writing words from her heart into the computer.

Words that are unedited and not designed to look like life is a perfect picture with all the ducks in a row and things pushed off the counter. Words about motherhood and that sometimes I know that you feel alone in what you’re doing and you just want to yell will someone please see everything I’m doing just once? I know about the thoughts about just wanting a break or the worries about messing up your kids.

I so get those moments. Because I’ve had those thoughts.

Those worries.

Those hopes and dreams.

Those behind the image moments of motherhood.


But listen, just one more time.

I stood in my kitchen slicing gluten free pizzas tonight and thought about that life and motherhood and meaning and what an important role we have in this world.  I thought about all the kids I’ve burped and driven to school and buttoned coats of and buckled into cars and sang lullabies to at night.  I thought about all the things you do too. About all the times where you sat behind a door while kids wouldn’t go to bed or al the times where you’ve picked up the phone and fought for your kids. I thought about the dreams and hopes and books we’ve read and how at the heart we really want to do out best even though some days we feel like we’re drowning or treading water.

And I realized that life is not really anything I ever thought it would be.

It’s far more messier. There are many more ups and downs and roller coaster moments. There are laughs and cries and just a whole bunch of wondering what is the point of this? sprinkled about.

But it’s also this crazy beautiful thing in the normal battle of the imperfect every day.

If my kitchen wasn’t messy we would never have had those berries with waffles and whipped cream and perfectly crispy bacon. Yes, I’ll admit that I can get at least one pan of bacon perfect. Only one. Then it cooks too fast and I’m impatient.

I’m proud of that just a bit messy kitchen.

Not because it stayed that way. We cleaned it. The shirt almost has the stains out. but I’m proud because it shows a life lived. Not a life thought about or any of that  – but lived.

So sweet friend reading these words that is what I’m reminding you of tonight.

Maybe your picture of life has that messy stuff tucked in the corners or maybe it just looks plain and simple disheveled.

But look at my boy’s face again.


He didn’t care.

He didn’t care. He knew his momma, his imperfect and falling flat on her face at times momma, loved him dearly.

That’s what I want you to see and to remember.

Life happens behind the picture.

Carry on brave mother.

I am proud of you.



32 Responses to “behind the picture”

  1. February 16, 2015

    Lynn Reply

    I’ve looked at this pic several times and the only time I noticed anything in the pic besides that smiling face was when you mentioned something being on the counter. All I saw was that boy’s smile! Even mentioning it, I hardly see anything! I’ll take that counter any day!
    You are in the Lord’s Hands! Praying!
    Psalms 31:5, 7-8 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth (7-8) I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.

    • February 17, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Always blessed by you Lynn.

      • February 17, 2015

        Lynn Reply

        I can’t believe I can actually post on here again! Don’t know what happened or how long it will last but it’s nice!

  2. February 17, 2015

    Dana Reply

    Until you wrote it and I went back to look for it, not once did I notice the messy. Had you not said anything about the waffle, not one person would have known it was an Eggo. The funny thing about motherhood is that’s the stuff we, ourselves, notice and judge ourselves for. That’s the stuff we think others will notice. True, there are some out there who will notice and will judge (I feel as though I live in Stepford, so I get that) but real people, well, we saw a picture of smiling boy loving his waffles. We also saw how awesome it was that his mom put whipped cream and berries on his waffles. Because that’s the stuff that is real…not the kitchen in the background or the fact that the waffles weren’t slaved over and made from scratch.

    • February 17, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      oh my word — so so so true. Isn’t that the truth? Bless you Dana today in all you do.

  3. February 17, 2015

    Heather Reply

    Thank you for the encouragement. <3

  4. February 17, 2015

    Julie Stocking Reply

    “But it’s also this crazy beautiful thing in the normal battle of the imperfect every day.”
    Loved the whole post!

  5. February 17, 2015

    Joy Reply

    I absolutely LOVE this post!!! It’s so REAL. You get what is called “motherhood”. I love the honesty.
    I sometimes have people tell me I’m the super mom because of the postings they see online, etc. But I crop my pictures. I hesitate to post a picture because of the mess in the background…knowing full well that it captures that moment of happiness.
    I love that… “Life Happens behind the picture” <3 Thanks for being real.

  6. February 17, 2015

    Jane H Reply

    I did not see the “messy” either…..I just saw that sweet little guy beaming. He was just having the best morning ever and that was showing through. You are a blessing to me.

  7. February 17, 2015

    Erin J Reply

    Rachel, I have to be honest… I looked at that picture and I saw Samuel’s bright and beautiful face, and then before I even got beyond the picture, I felt myself breathe out a sigh of relief. I noticed your counters behind Samuel, and breathed out a quiet, almost inaudible, “Oh, thank God her kitchen has things on the counter too.” Because the truth is that as open and honest and transparent and humble as you are, you still appear to me to be perfect – to be well ahead of me on the road to “figuring it all out”. I will admit that there are many, many blogs I read that make me feel inadequate – not intentionally, I know, but I look at the spotless kitchen counters and the magazine-worthy kids bedrooms and I think “Who ARE these people and where is their stuff?” They are wonderful people (bloggers), but I can’t help but compare and feel like my reality is so messy and theirs is so neat. I think you are beautiful and amazing and I LOVE the way that you see such beautiful light in your kids and in those little moments. Thank you so much for being so transparent. It means the world.

  8. February 17, 2015

    Jen Reply

    Who are these people that make waffles from scratch??! Please tell me and I’ll gladly buy them a toaster. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are a single mother of 7 kids. SEVEN!! It’s amazing that you can even see the counter.

    • February 17, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Hahah! Truth, for sure! And, lol, those waffles are an example of the crazy culture we live in for sure. And, let me tell you, they were fantastic. 🙂 Have a great day, Jen.


  9. February 17, 2015

    Beverly Kuhn Reply

    Thanks for the reminder to embrace the messiness of life!!! Just yesterday my smaller monkey slogged in from riding his bike in 37 degree weather covered in mud and water having run his bike through the mud and actually taking the time to wash it off before coming inside! I looked at his mud-spattered clothes, smiled, and told him to take his clothes and put them in the washer. No screaming about the mud in the garage and the laundry room or how the jeans might not come clean or that I have to wash 2 polartec jackets AGAIN . . . he is my muddy monkey and always will be! Seems he has been hip-deep in mud since he could walk, and it is just part of who he is. I rock on with the mess . . . otherwise it would be boring! You rock on with the messiness!

    • February 17, 2015

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Love this story, Beverly. Sometimes the mud isn’t messy it’s just a sign of living a life boldly. Love it.


  10. February 17, 2015

    Kate Reply

    I didn’t see the stuff on the counter until you said something. I felt bad that I sent my kid to school with two cereal bars in his tummy, then I kept reading. I remembered that he loves that he gets to pick his flavors every morning. That he is three and it is something he can eat quickly without me hovering, it also allows me to eat some cereal myself – life isn’t perfect but the smile on their faces is pretty close!

  11. February 17, 2015

    Stephanie Reply

    I just loved this story today! Well, every day, but today, when you are talking about your so called mess, I never saw it either! It reminded me of what my said the other day…..I was just after putting our 15 month old little girl to bed, I looked at all her toys and books scattered all over the family room and said She made some mess today! He said, well, a mess like this means a happy child. I just smiled and thought of all the fun and laughs she/we had that day, and every day. I also thought of how she was our little miracle, who we waited 8 years for, and how much of a blessing it is to have her and to be a mom!
    I have messy corners, my dining room table it scattered with not dining room items, sometime the kitchen sink is full at the end of the day and I am just too tired to do all the dishes in them. I just think of how lucky I am to have the mess, dishes and messy corners, it means I am living my life, my child is happy and so are we! And, she likes Eggo waffles too!
    Thanks for your little stories every day, makes a mother feel not alone!

  12. February 17, 2015

    Kelly Reply

    I have enjoyed your posts for awhile now Rachel and just had to comment on this one….brought tears to my eyes! So true and such a good reminder. Thank you for your wise words!

  13. February 18, 2015

    Jenn Reply

    My hous is always such a wreck! I’ve tried to get into a “routine” of cleaning. But, the kids get put in second place when I do that. At first, when I had a baby, I used to really just put the baby first and play with him all day long. But then, I had to recognize that there are other people living here too, and I need to work to keep it a little picked up. It’s so hard, juggling that desire to have a clean house for those I love the most and that desire to just be with them and play with them. I love them so much. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s best. I find this to be one of the hardest parts of motherhood!

  14. February 19, 2015

    peg hassan Reply

    this is an awesome story,i hope every mom can live like this.we had four kids in 26 months ,so life was always like this.we went on 5 years later to have #five.they are now all successful ,loving adults with awesome spouses,(whom cannot fathom the close ages of the irish twins,then real twins.God gives you what you can handle,i love this mom’s perspective.her kids will not remember a pefect house ,but those awesome waffles and berries!i do try to tell my kids,don’t sweat the small stuf,don’t be in competition for the best house,car,vacation ect.they want our time and hugs.we did’t have cable tv ,it was a choice play sports or have cable,kids picked many experiences they would have missed had they chosen to stay at home in front of tv!Mom ,everyone else has mtv!They were teased that we were the silly family having to get home for 5 p.m. dinner together!what your doing is awesome,live in the moments don’t let outside p
    ressure influence you!!!!

  15. March 5, 2015

    Julia Reply

    Just wanted to tell you to keep on keeping on! Love all your posts! You seem to know just what I need to hear! I am terrible for not posting pictures or thinking they are awful due to the back ground of realness. But I am working really hard on being more real, so thanks for the encouragement!

  16. March 5, 2015

    Michele Reply

    Truth, before I read the words, I scanned the picture. Not to judge, but to rejoice in the “normal” of your kitchen. To be able to revel in the fact that Moms and kitchens and life doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyed and treasured. Thanks for always making my “normal” seem just right!

  17. March 26, 2015

    Shana Reply

    Every post, every picture, every story – it’s like you are in my head, in my house, and in my family. Thank you for your honesty, your humor, and your bravery in posting the reality of motherhood. I have 3 young children ages 6 1/2 to 2 1/2 – I am in the trenches as you are, and although I feel alone most of the time in this journey, it is your real-life, open, honest, and from the heart posts that make me realize we are all in this journey together. Finding joy is my constant struggle and daily goal. Thank you for helping me find it a little bit each day.

  18. September 3, 2015

    Melissa Reply

    I’ve read this piece a couple times when you’ve posted it and honestly it is one of my favorites! Because it is sooo me! Always wanting to “crop out” the bad in my picture, make things look nicer etc. Too much time wasted worried about what others think. When in reality my boys think our life is perfect, fun and crazy and if they were taking the picture, they would never crop out part of our lives 🙂 Thank you for all you do!

  19. September 4, 2015

    Christine Kenny Reply

    So so beautiful and so meaningful. We get so caught up in this “perfect world” that see all over, we forget to enjoy what’s really happening in our lives. And I agree, that is what we should be sharing. The ups and downs, the good and bad. Thanks you for the lovely reminder!!

  20. November 18, 2015

    Susan Reply

    I have just found you through a dear friend. Your posts are straight from your heart and I just wanted you to know that you are a blessing to me! And I’m one who took a picture of me and my curly-headed little mini-me eating ice cream cones 2 nights ago and didn’t post it because of the background clutter. It’s about to hit social media now!! Thank you!!

  21. November 19, 2015

    Annelize Reply

    Hi Rachel
    Just want to tell you how much your posts mean to me!! As a mommy of 2 boys it helps to hear every now and again that failing and falling flat on my face – is NORMAL!!
    I feel like I know you and see you as a friend – someone who understands!!
    Trying to be perfect in this crazy world of parenthood is exactly that, CRAZY!!! Thanks for your awesome messages
    Much love

  22. March 16, 2016

    Céleste Reply

    Thank you for reminding us the important things! And to help you enjoying berries and other little things… Berry stains will to out very easier in you soak them in water before throwing in the next wash.

  23. February 16, 2017

    Sarah Andrews Reply

    You are always on point as usual! I love your blogs and I am thankful for your momblogs:) I myself did not even see the kitchen only the huge smile & yummy waffle & toppings! Blessings to you and yours for always touching my soul with these words you write.

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