Family Picture Day. The most wonderful time of the year for everyone, it seems, but us. Every year I fall victim to the social media effect as I see families I know and love beautifully and effortlessly captured in their finest and most authentic moments. It all seems so perfect, and I truly believe that for them it is.
And then there is us. For us, picture day begins days ahead as we “prepare” M to wear a dress that is, to say the least, not her first choice. It involves coordinating other family member’s outfits around said dress and promising W that his buttons won’t be too tight and that he can put his firefighter outfit on as soon as the pictures are over. And then there’s baby J. Our little egg. Don’t even get me started on trying to dress the cutest little round potato you ever did see. What does an egg look good in????
This year we successfully survived the prep and picture day finally arrived. This was our 4th year to work with our photographer, and our kids are always excited to see her. That’s a least one mark in the “win” column. However, as pictures began we slowly but surely fell apart. Baby J had been up every 2 hours the night before, so he pretty much just wailed through the entire session. W became focused on picking up each and every (large) stick he could find, and our photographer graciously tried to incorporate those into the shots. M was actually perfect and beautiful and adorable until she was scratched by brother’s stick, and then she too succumbed to the family picture day fiasco. I turned to our photographer and asked her if all of her sessions went this well, and if 3 out of 3 in tears at some point meant it was a super successful shoot.
By the time we finally wrapped up, my husband and I were exhausted. “It seemed so much easier when there were less of them!” I confided to him later. As we started reflecting on the day, he reminded me of something so beautiful. He spoke about how challenging it can be in parenting to “find the joy,” especially at this time of the year as the holiday hustle and bustle buzzes around us. That joy, he said, presents itself in the unexpected moments, and in our case, the unexpected pictures. It’s M taking W’s hand. It’s the two of them helping Baby J off the ground. It’s a look of love and acknowledgement (of the crazy!) captured between the two of us. It’s that one moment that emerged from all the chaos captured on film that will grow to become one of the pictures we love the most. He is so right.
As we enter into the holiday season, I wish you JOY in the unexpected and even stressful moments. Because you know what? Those moments belong to us too, so we might as well claim them and turn them into what we want them to be. For all of you who make it through family picture day still in tact, my hat goes off to you. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, but it’s one year down and precious moments captured.
Find the joy~
Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.