I wrote this for another site and was recently asked to reshare it.....which I do so happily.
We’ve lived in our house now for over a year. As we wrapped up the renovations, I got to focus on decorating it, making it our home. I had a vision and that vision included family portraits. Our fifth baby was old enough now that she looked like herself, still little, but not so babyish. Above our mantle would hang our family portrait. I knew the pose I wanted, rather artistic. My husband and I would be in the background, our five children in the forefront, the focus of our family.
About the time that I decided I was ready for family photos, my friend Kristie had a special deal to celebrate her oldest son’s graduation from high school. I love Kristie and don’t see her nearly enough, not to mention she has a spectacular eye for light. So it seemed like a perfect choice to meet up with her and take some lovely family pictures. The theme of the pictures was basically show up with clean faces. This was accomplished. Yes, my older son had a ripped shirt on. Yes my younger son was missing a button on his shirt, but over all they looked fairly cared for. The sun was shining, although it wasn’t as hot as many of our summer days had been. The breeze was dancing through, giving us all a gentle windswept look. It seemed ideal, the perfect day. The perfect day, the perfect setting up until toddlers were added to the mix. In my excitement to have truly special family pictures taken, I forgot that it involved my family. Namely my strong willed three year old and a toddler with the attention span of a gnat. It did not go well. The odds were never really in our favor. If the three year old cooperated, the baby had to run towards the street. If the baby was sitting still, the three year old had to climb the tree…..right then. And the older children kept laughing at the littles’ antics.
Kristie handled it like the professional she is. Although I’m certain raising her own four, absolutely sweet children, helped. She was patient and understanding. She expressed delight in the absolutely age appropriate behavior of the little ones. She was supportive and helped me see the situation for what it was. It is where we are in life. We are a family with little ones. Babies and toddlers who throw us for a loop. And they are so cute as the wreak havoc within our plans. And that’s what Kristie captured. Our life, now, frustrating and hectic and oh so beautiful. It can be challenging to see the beauty in the moment sometimes. Especially when you just want them to sit still for a couple minutes. I had a goal, a vision and it just wasn’t going to come to fruition. And honestly, that’s life right now. My plans often go awry, just yesterday I was peeling screaming children off the bookstore floor. They wanted to sit and stare at the Thomas the Tank Engine toys, I wanted to pick up the book I ordered. But they’re still the size where I can scoop them up. They still can wrap their arms around my neck as they wailing in protest. And there’s something precious about that. It’s a special time, all too brief, just months out a decades long life.
These moments are fleeting. And they are more valuable than can ever be expressed. There, in that moment, I chose to let go of my plans and simply work with what we had. Because that’s what family life is about. Embracing your people, where they are in life, and moving forward. Or sideways, depending on what mood strikes the children in your life. But in order to have peace, to be able to take joy in the moments that come, sometimes unexpectedly, I had to make my plans fit my children, not my children fit my plans. Because these are my moments, my moments to treasure my children, and that means their personalities as expressed by their little toddler wills. Too soon they will grow, grow into well behaved children. Children, who don’t cry because they have to sit on grass, but rather for real pain, true sadness, hurt. And I dread that time. I’m scared for when they hurt for reasons I can’t fix. When I can’t dry their eyes by offering them my bracelet. So I chose to not be frustrated or irritated, at least too much. These are the good times. The happy times. These are my children, good and naughty. They have my heart.
This reality was made more poignant by the presence of Kristie’s eldest son. He helped with the shoot, chatted comfortably, mostly about college. He was leaving. Moving upward and onward, as he should. As all children will. Kristie was so proud of her little boy, now taller than her. And she had every reason to be. And she tried so hard to hide those tears, as her precious little one spread his wings. Wings she formed, wings she nurtured, wings she so wanted to see him use. But it didn’t make it hurt any less. As I watched the mother and son work together, I glanced over at my own son. He was trying to remove his shoes. Forcefully and with much passion. And I chose to accept and treasure. Because too soon, that little boy would be a man. A man who would take on the world with as much passion as he had for not sitting still in that moment. And that man would leave my side, and quite possibly invite another woman to his side. This will be wonderful when it happens, but it won’t change the fact that his little chubby hand will no longer be in mine.
So I choose to treasure these moments, even the moments of chaos. It's where our family is right now. We'll have the perfect family photos later, at graduations and weddings. When my littles are spreading their wings. I have them for such a brief time, and Kristie captured this brief time perfectly. In all its chaos....and beauty.
all photos by Catch Me if You Can photography.