It's that time of year again, where all families big and small are trying to capture the beautiful moments of fall in an attempt to get the perfect family photo for those Christmas cards.
This year was an extra special year for our family portraits, as we have added a new member to our family. In fact, we would point to our family picture hanging over the mantle, and explain we needed a new picture with her in it! At this thought, Kira would grin from ear to ear.
Today was the big day! Our good friend Jamie, who has been doing our pictures for about 4 years now, was scheduled to come back. Actually, we were going to head to a lovely spot in the Foothills where many of our friends have been doing family portraits. What more speaks of a beautiful family then one all bundled up in their fancy warm clothes with a red barn, flowing wheat grass and bits of leaves and snow in the background? I mean, really, this is what Christmas Cards and Hallmark Movies are made of, folks.
So imagine my surprise when I got a call from Jamie last night telling me that she recently saw this picture I put up on Facebook.
Jamie thought it would be so much better to do pictures showing our growing family in real life - rather than some random outdoor shots. She asked if she could come to our home. At my hesitancy, she sent me a link or two to show me what she had in mind.
Um, so here is what went through my mind after seeing the adorable shots of those other families.
I don't have a house that looks like it is catalog material like those families. I don't look as cute in my "house clothes" as those moms did. My house is nowhere near as clean as those houses, and even the cooking mess in those pictures are cute messes. We don't make cute messes, we make small explosions. And anyway, I already planned out everyone's perfectly matched outfits that would just look silly for these kind of photos. These pictures call for cute, comfy, relaxed gear - and by golly, I want that Norman Rockwell picture that makes us look perfect!!!! No this just won't do because THIS is a more accurate photo of my non catalog house that certainly reveals my non Norman Rockwell family.
Jamie laughed at my nonsense, and I agreed to let her give it a try. After all, Jamie is one of those photographers that could probably do a photo shoot at the City Dump and everyone would want to have their next portrait session there with her because it would just be that fabulous. I told her that my house comes close to the City Dump, so let's go for it.
So even though she told me not to clean, I of course stuck Aaron and the kids on all sorts of cleaning duties this morning cleaning the entire house - because after all, I didn't know which room she would use....and by golly, I STILL want to look perfect! I picked out new clothes for the photos and agreed that we all looked a little more like ourselves. I thought about wearing yoga pants, but figured that would be pushing the coziness we were going for. (Not to mention how IMPERFECT a photo of me in yoga pants would be.)
Jamie showed up at 11:00 and we were ready to go! I had sent the kids outdoors for the entire morning so as to not mess up the house again. She began snapping away. I was feeling pretty good about things. She got some of all 7 of us on the couch, some of just the kids, maybe one of the dog, some of me and the girls baking, and Aaron and the boys watching football. I was growing pretty convinced ... this is OUR LIFE! I was so glad she had encouraged these real life/posed shots.
After we were done in the house, we ventured over to a nearby lake where our family often visits. I was really liking this change of plans! We had our real life pics, and now we were off for those perfect outdoor photos on familiar turf.
Yeah, here's how perfect it went....
The wind was blowing, one kid stepped in the lake, the tree branch that we were supposed to all sit on was hurting the kids, someone looked at one kid funny and she or he began to cry, one of the kids may or may not have ripped a large whole in the butt of their pants on said tree branch, two kids ran off one way while the other 3 ran another way, no one wanted to stop throwing rocks in the lake long enough to take a picture, I was yelling at everyone to stop being crazy and just smile - NO, SMILE LIKE YOU MEAN IT, and it turned cold out of nowhere - to which one child decided they wanted to be done. We all decided to be done.
So there you have it - our Norman Rockwell family. Perfect, huh?
I can't help but laugh at the stupidity of this all. We were just hoping to get a couple good family shots. Why would I think that what we look like in a picture reveals anything about who we really are? Why would I try to make it so? Why would I care if a picture did reveal who we really are - messy and imperfect? Why would I not want to capture the moments of our crazy life in mismatched clothes, shoes and socks that don't go, messed up hair, dishes in the sink, toilets that seldom get flushed, dusty shelves, and backpacks and winter hats strewn throughout the house? Because then I would have to admit that I'm not perfect, and neither are my kids. I'd have to admit and confess that I have sinned against my children through my anger and frustrations at them just being children. I'd have to admit and confess that I have turned the LOOK of perfection into an idol, rather than valuing love above all things. Shoot.
Love is PATIENT and KIND (not, SMILE, darn it!); love does not envy or BOAST (not, look at our perfect family in our perfect photos!!); it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not IRRITABLE (not, clean this! clean that! clean clean clean!) or resentful (not, why do the toilets NEVER get flushed??); it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the TRUTH (we are not perfect!). Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
(Part II will be the revealing of what I know will be wonderful pictures of an imperfect family. Stay tuned!)