15 Dec Picture Perfect
By: Stefanie Castro, RN, BSN
Let’s be honest, this time of year is full of holiday cheer. Houses smell like cinnamon and cookies, but most of all it’s about family. And as social media increases in popularity, the pressure to get our holiday photo out and make it “Facebook official” is as high as ever. I’m certainly guilty of participating in the tradition, as I will for years to follow. But it should be known that this is just a picture. The snapshots of well dressed, well mannered, and happy families are not true reflections of how most families function on a daily basis.
As the Christmas cards start flooding my mailbox and social media feeds fill up with an abundance of family photos, I can’t help but hear my friend at dinner saying, “Every picture is so perfect; their lives are perfect”. I still chuckle as that thought crosses my mind. I remember nearly gagging on my meal that night, because that couldn’t be further from the truth. I looked right at her and stated, “Do you have any idea how many photos were taken before that ‘perfect’ shot was mastered? I promise you, dozens!” There is nothing in this world that’s perfect and family photos, as all us parents know, are far from flawless. They are more accurately categorized as a nightmare, because we smile and cringe all at once. If my family photos had audio, people wouldn’t be saying how “perfect” the picture came out. Instead, you’d nearly cry from laughter. While my husband and I display great smiles, through our teeth we are begging our children to look at the camera and say cheese, and praying for the mess to end!
Yes, it is a mess. It’s pure chaos. Our dog, which is calmer than any living creature I’ve ever seen, isn’t even compliant during these moments. She’s looking the other way, licking my husband’s face, or finding a means to escape the madness. Each year, without fail, I look to my photographer and ask in a scared voice, “You think you got any worth sending out?” She chuckles because it was just as much a hassle for her as it was for all of us. And when she works at the pictures, I receive text messages of the reject photos, where my husband and I look like we were born to pose for photographs, while our children are maniacs beside us.
I laugh simply because this is our reality. It’s hectic, crazy, and an absolute cluster of insanity rolled into one. It’s life. Scratch that, it’s parenthood! I’ll say, as the years have passed, I’ve grown to love these chaotic photos. I actually look forward to seeing what funny faces my kids come up with each year. I think I appreciate these photos, because they capture the essence that is parenting. They capture a moment of our insane lives and give us the ability to look back and reminisce.
Sometimes I take a walk down memory lane with these pictures and nearly cry. When we are in the moment of taking our photos, we are so preoccupied with how perfect we want these pictures to turn out. But we fail to embrace the chaos. We need to step back and take in the moment. I ask myself, how many times will my son break out in song while we are taking pictures together? I can easily say those moments are dwindling. My kids are growing too quickly and these pictures help capture their childhood. They take a snapshot of how imperfect parenting is on a daily basis. I can’t help but relish in these moments now, because I know I won’t get to go back in time, but I’ll always get to glimpse back at this time in my life and chuckle. So as you gear up to take those pictures this holiday season, remember to soak it up. You will most likely get that picture you’ve longed for, but remember how many crazy photos it took before you got that ‘perfect’ shot. Those photos are the ones that count!
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