One of my big parenting goals is to have pictures of all of my children together. I am admittedly horrible at keeping up with baby books, so these myriads of pictures serve to document my children’s youth alongside their siblings, and to see them grow together. As the years have progressed, I have come to the realization that I am not just watching them grow physically, but I am also capturing the growth of their bond with each other. Chubby toddler hands clinging to tiny infant bodies have slowly morphed into the grubby, protective hands of a pre-teen firmly grasping the wildly wiggling toddler, lest he slip out of his grip and fall…
Sentimental? Yes. Easy? Hahahaha!
For every picture I share with my friends and family, there are easily a dozen outtakes. (And by a dozen, let’s just say that I currently have over thirty thousand pictures stored on my external hard drive. My kids don’t call me the Mama-razzi for nothing.)
Though I would love to tell you that I always lovingly guide my children to smile at the camera lens to document holidays and random, silly occasions….well, that would be a lie. For the most part, I am cheerful in my attempts to get them to look at the camera, and they dutifully indulge me. But, there are five of them. Five wiggly, active, silly, often uncooperative KIDS. Undoubtedly, “someone is touching me, looking at me funny, breathing too loudly, or just existing in a way that makes me angry!” These times happen most often when I am trying to get a picture that I desperately want. In my frustration, I find myself snapping at them. “JUST LOOK HERE! AT THE CAMERA! FOR ONE SECOND! ALL I WANT IS ONE PICTURE!”
Because of this, there are some pictures that I have shared that come with a twinge of guilt. Pictures where my children have been super uncooperative, and I have ended up snapping at them in frustration. Pictures that have, in turn, turned out to be rather beautiful.
My beautiful children, hugging each other and looking out at the ocean?
This was taken after a memorial service, on the year anniversary of a dear friends passing. Weighing on my mind was the fact that my friend’s brothers were standing on the beach together, without their beloved brother. Gone unexpectedly, and far too soon. There would be no more sibling pictures. Their family would be forever incomplete. I was emotional, still crying, and desperately wanted one picture of my children together on that beach, in that moment.
They were having no part of it.
One was crying because he had sand in his eye. One was complaining that the sun was too bright and squinting like Popeye. One was eating sand, and crying because his big sister wouldn’t take her hand out of his mouth. One was angry because nobody would let him sprint into the ocean fully clothed.
I finally snapped, swore under my breath, and angrily told them through my tears to sit down and face away from me. Forget it. If they wouldn’t cooperate, I would just take a picture of their backs and call it a day.
They dutifully sat, clinging to each other. Still upset, but bonded together, and desperately trying to appease their now sobbing mom.
I got my picture. With a little side of guilt.
Perspective. It changes everything.