I remember when my first-born was 9 months old my mom wanted to take her to JCPenney to take photos. My Meilani was mobile at this point and we had no idea what kind of adventure we were in for.
The photographer set up a cute little chair and backdrop. Meilani was all decked out in a blue polka dot dress. I had wrestled her to put a tiny flower clip in her hair.
The photographer coaxed her to sit down nicely in the chair. My little girl would have none of that prim and proper stuff. She ran squealing into the corner. Her nana tried to chase her out and she ran for my arms. The photographer started in with some crazy noises and shaking a little stuffed animal. Meilani was not amused. She screamed and ran the other direction. By the end, Mom and I were worn out. We wondered if there were any cute pictures to be salvaged from the romping photo shoot.
I secretly vowed I would never bring my daughter back to a studio like this. Ever. Again. What was the point?
When we finally got to review the pictures, we found some where she was looking at the camera. A select few even made it look like she was sitting pretty and posing. Of course, I knew all about that mischievous glint in my little girl’s eye.
That whole experience got me thinking about family photos and how hard mamas work to get our kiddos to sit and smile. We desire to create these “picture-perfect moments” that are so far from real life.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we are sweating and yelling for everyone to get into place, coaxing their hair to stay down with spit on fingers, bribing and threatening our kids so we can muster up something for the Christmas card.
For the record, I had two more baby girls who were just as beautiful and rambunctious as my oldest. What a relief it was for our family when we found a friend-photographer who was willing to chase our girls through fields of leaves and up trees to capture their natural laughter. I am grateful we don’t have to be the picture-perfect family in the studio anymore.
I am also grateful I serve a God who loves me even when I’m not-so-picture-perfect. I’m a recovering perfectionist. It’s only been in recent years that I have learned to embrace the “beautiful mess” that is my life. I have discovered that the more I release my desire for things to be smiley-picture-perfect, the deeper joy I have with my family. I have traded my independent nature for the surprising gift of living in community. I have tasted the freedom that comes in following God’s lead instead of composing my own not-so-picture-perfect life.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore is the Coordinator of the Bridge MOPS. She would much rather strike a crazy pose in a photo booth than force her family to smile in a photo studio. She is married to Ericlee and has three not-so-picture-perfect daughters: Meilani, 7, Giada, 4 and Zayla, 2