I love family photos, not just mine but others as well. Just recently while gathering old photos for a birthday gift for my father, I stumbled across old family pictures. Seeing the changes in stages and ages made looking at them even more enjoyable. I loved identifying things within the picture that I had somehow forgotten over the years. When looking at my own childhood pictures, I recalled handmade dresses for us girls and haircuts for my brothers on the occasion it was taken for. A closer examination of the photos, revealed an undeniable likeness of my mother and I at the same times in our lives. It was something that I had overlooked but my children gladly pointed out.
Looking at those made me reminisce about my young life and how happy it was. Not perfect, but happy. It also made me think about my parents younger life with five children and how difficult it was at times. Sometimes it's hard to remember that because we always had love in our home. The love for each other and love for ourselves outweighed the challenges. My parents did their best, similar to what my husband and I are trying to do today with our family.
While observing old photos with my own children, I was quick to notice their tiny baby faces have been replaced with the structure and character lines of young adulthood. Looking even deeper into the pictures not only displayed the memories for that snap of the flash, but the stages we were all at as well. For them it was a time to be young and carefree, for me it was a time when I was young and clueless, making a boat load of mistakes and oh yeah... exhausted.
DID I ALREADY MENTION BEING CLUELESS AND EXHAUSTED???
However, and most importantly I was happy. We were happy, and still are. It's hard raising children but, I wouldn't change it for anything. They drive me crazy MOST of the time, yet my life wouldn't be complete without them. They fill my heart and force me to be the best I can be. Perfectly imperfect of course. I'm still learning, and still exhausted, and still feel blessed to be their mom. They keep me self aware and intentional about who I am and what I do. Every day is a round of questions in my head of what I'm doing wrong or right by them before I even lift my head from my pillow. Changing mindsets (my own normally), priorities, and what goals I want them to personally achieve, (like good morals, character, and values) takes a lot of work and effort. But I choose to be all in. Family photos can be superficial if what they're showing on the outside doesn't match how everyone feels on the inside. The reality is those pictures are scripted. I'm telling them to smile! However, I want the photo to read deeper to them someday and hopefully capture the wonderful feelings that they had at that time in their life. The only way for me to accomplish that though is to focus less on what it takes to be picture perfect and more on the real life of being picture imperfect.
If your in the thick of difficult parenting, don't quit now. I'm right there with you. I don't know how everyone in my household will shake out yet, we're all still learning. What I do know is that doing the groundwork is what counts and the journey to get there doesn't need to be flawless, just intentional. Mistakes will be made from both parents and children. Don't ever give up. The fact is, our shortcomings may turn out to be their future mistakes, but I believe if the foundation has been laid and the road of expectations is clear, we've done our job, even if it was perfectly imperfect, and they will find their way home.
HERE'S A QUICK RUNDOWN ON THE LEAD UP TO THIS IMPERFECT PHOTO
Me: C'mon guys, lets meet downstairs for a family photo in 5.
Girls: Can I wear a sundress?
Me: Yes, that's fine.
Boys: Okay be right there.
15 minutes later....
Me: Guys c'mon, it will take 2 seconds, let's go.
Girls: Okay almost ready, do I need a sweater?
Me: NO! It's 200 degrees here!
Girls: I think I'm going wear my hair down now.
Me: C'mon girls hurry up!
Boys: Hurry up for what? What are we doing?
Me: (HEAD IMPLODING AT THIS MOMENT) volume raising, not nice thoughts in my head!
Everyone: OK, we're ready!
Me: Okay great lets head down.
Getting ready to walk out the door....
Ron: Aim, can you iron my shirt???
Me: YUP!!! (said in a "fake" accommodating voice but really thinking in my head before I loose it and completely ruin the moment for the picture I want...WHERE the heck have you been this whole time...on a different island?!?)