The case for picture perfect sharing

Picture this. Your kids are all dressed up you finally have them all in one place to snap a few “nice” pictures for the grandparents. But the middle child doesn’t like the clothes that you picked for him, the youngest doesn’t want to sit with her brothers – she wants to have her picture by herself, and the eldest one is annoyed with you for taking away the iPad before he was finished his game. So he’s pouting. 14-year-old boys still do that? Apparently so.

You finally get them all to pay attention and smile so you can get one shot out of the 109 you snapped. And you manage to do just that. Barely. Sound familiar?

While I was trying to get the perfect picture it reminded me of a writing I did for my own Facebook page back in 2016. I thought today a fitting time to share that here. Because nothing has changed. My feelings are the same. And the chaos continues, the kids are just a little older now.

Backtrack to June 2016

I was reading an article on Huffington Post today about this celebrity who is tired of all the “perfect moment” photos that people share of their kids. How she doesn’t believe that the people posting those moments are being truthful about motherhood.

It has stuck with me today. And not because I agree or disagree I just have a different view. We mothers and fathers work very hard for our families. Most of the time I am exhausted, my house is not perfectly in order and my to do list is so huge that I have to manage it by thinking of it as “how do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time.” I find ways to make it through the days while still enjoying all the moments that I can with my 3 kids.

My 3 kids – a lot of the time they can truly make me crazy. In fact right now the boys are banished to their room to watch cartoons on the ipad until bed because really we had had enough. The constant noise, the bickering, teasing, yelling, running was too much to handle for another minute. Eva spent an hour torturing us all with her 3 year old tantruming self. She’s now asleep.

In the middle of the chaos that is our family life I manage to capture moments that are special. Little snap shots of cute, sweet, loving, happy joyous moments. Eventually it becomes an album and a movie of joy.

I never profess that my family life is easy or at all like those little snap shots. But tell me, do you really care to hear about the 17 tantrums Eva had today, including at the energy plex when she decided we were sitting at the wrong table? I’m the mom and I don’t even want to hear about them. They come and go and I forget them as quick as they start. But I burn the special shots in my mind and they keep me going. And I share those moments not to say look at my perfect family, but look at this perfect moment in our day – they make me happy and I love to spread happy.

I don’t think it’s fair to judge those little snippets of perfection. The book ends of those moments might not be share worthy for us and its not because we want to hide it – they just don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What matters to me is that sometimes for a few moments I get to see joy and beauty. And I feel blessed.

Then I finish my day with the kids, fall dead tired onto the couch with Rob to try and relax so we can do it all over again tomorrow.

That said – we are going to watch a grown up movie now. It was a busy week.

Fast track to 2020.

I now have a 14 1/2-year-old, a soon to be 14-year-old and a 7 1/2-year-old. All with different personalities and all with different ideas and wants and needs. And of course all with different listening skills. And don’t get me started on the schedules. The daily chaos is still a strong part of our day. But you know what is missing now? Those very picture perfect moments that I liked to capture in 2016 and before and since. Because I can’t get the kids together anymore (insert sobbing here). And it’s just going to get harder and harder to do. For 14-year-old boys there are no more gingerbread houses and decorating cookies. The boys who wanted to ham it up for the camera now either don’t want their picture taken or they begrudgingly do it and runaway as soon as one shot is done. All those traditional moments that I hold dear. Or those little daily snippets of picture perfect moments surrounded by chaos. They are becoming fewer and fewer to capture.

So what I’m trying to say here it is – it all goes so freaking fast. Other parents with older children will tell you this.

When you’re in the chaos you can’t see how fast it’s all going. You’re just trying to hold on.

Capture those small moments and enjoy every minute of it. Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s not real. It’s all real it’s all happiness – it’s all pain – it’s all you’ve got for right now. Then it changes and new happiness and new pain and new real takes its place. Celebrate those little moments as often as you can.

This weekend my family went into the mountains to spend some time in the snow to cut down our Christmas tree and have a picnic and a fire with friends. I thought my boys were having a terrible time because all they did was sit on the chairs around the fire and didn’t talk to each other and didn’t talk to anyone. I thought to myself “I have surly teenagers”. As we were driving down from the mountain my husband asked if anybody had a good time. And they all said it was the best day ever. What?! Apparently sitting around the fire doing nothing was exactly what they wanted to do. They ate too much food they drank too much hot chocolate. I was able to snap just a few photos.

Now when I look at those photos I am going to see the day from their eyes. Just being. That is picture perfect to me.

It’s a sunny day today and there’s going to be an amazing sunset at my front window. I’m going to gather my three kids together (I’ll beg and bribe if I have to) and see if I can get a shot of them together.

A mother can dream.

Margaret Morton, mother to three awesome crazy kids, wife, artist and believer in capturing the world around you with love and meaning

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