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Motherhood According to Stock Photos

We're in a visual age, so writing needs something, well, visual to go with the prose. But those of us writing for the internet don't always have the right photo on our phones to go with a particular piece.

Enter: stock images.

For a fee, you can purchase photos from a collection of thousands, probably millions. To find what you need, you plug in a few key words and, BOOM! Hundreds to choose from. Often, none that you'll want.

To fill in the categories, stock photo companies commission professional photographers to create plausible scenes that fit popular search terms. And here's where it gets weird: how photographers interpret motherhood. Here's a sampling of what I found scrolling through some stock photo sites:

1. Pregnancy cravings

I know that when I was pregnant, I craved bell peppers, which I sliced in my impeccable kitchen. With a bread knife. For some reason, stock images like to portray women with vegetables. While this may not be the classic "woman laughing while holding bowl of salad," it does show a pregnant woman looking contemplatively at her fruits and veggies. Which is totally a thing.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: iStockphoto

2. Oh, God, what have I done?

The first time you meet your baby is a magical one, indeed. A stock image of that tender moment can depict a multitude of emotions. This mom appears to have just realized what she's gotten herself into. Dad looks gleefully unaware of Mom's existential crisis, as dads are oft to do. Baby looks annoyed with this living-outside-the-womb business.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Getty Images

RELATED: How to Get Through a Toddler Tantrum With Grace

3. Housework

This image is entitled, "Portrait of a mother doing the housework." I don't know any mom who doesn't wear a fall coat when she does the ironing. Actually, I don't know any mom who irons.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Getty Images

4. Don't co-sleep like this

I'm as pro-baby feet as the next mom. But what I want to know: How hot is it under that blanket? Should someone rescue the baby? Put this stock image on a co-sleeping article and brace yourself for the barrage of comments coming your way. I'll go first.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Getty Images

5. Obligatory baby in a field

If stock images reflect our collective imagination in any way, then we like to think of women in fields. The same goes for moms and babies. Flower fields are the best. Every new mom comes home from the hospital with her newborn and proceeds to the nearest field. It's one of the rules of new motherhood.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: iStockphoto

6. Just your average weeknight dinner

You can almost hear this toddler screaming, "Hello!" into the phone while mom stirs a saucepan (on a burner that's not even lit, mind you. That soup's not gonna heat itself!) What's that? Older child has a question about homework. One second, Mom's on the phone with Dad. He's running late. "Yeah, don't worry. I've got everything under control."

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: iStockphoto

7. Working mom

Business mom is all business. Drab office attire? Check. Drab baby onesie? Check. Phone call that could have been an email? Check. Empty briefcase? Check. Floppy baby? Check.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: iStockphoto

8. Inexplicable toplessness

There's nothing like the joy of a birth announcement. Why do I have a sneaking suspicion this topless shoot was dad's idea? "OK, but I get to wear a flower in my hair. Something ... tropical."

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Getty Images

9. Casual stay-at-home mom

Ah, the first months of motherhood: powder rooms, long stem roses, impractical shoes. I don't know what I would do without daily visits from my glam squad.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: iStockphoto

10. Breastfeeding in public

When breastfeeding in public, remember to pick the most picturesque tree under which to do it. Don't you dare tell this mom—or any mom, for that matter—to breastfeed in a bathroom, a quiet corner or, you know, sitting down. Foliage, good hair days and good latching. That's what it's all about.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: iStockphoto

RELATED: What Was I Thinking Letting My Husband Sleep More Than Me?

11. Actually kinda accurate

The staged reality of stock images can be hilarious. Once in a while, you get one that is both funny and real. This one captures that 11 p.m. on a Friday feeling. That we-used-to-be-people feeling. Don't let the stock image get you down, new mom. We fall in love with our babies again every night (after they finally fall asleep) so that we can face another day of motherhood. Because we're not stock image moms, we're real-life moms.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY: iStockphoto

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