There were heavy sighs followed by eye rolls. I didn’t think my request was that demanding, but apparently I had pushed too far. Again.
“Please? If you just smile nicely and look like you love each other, this will be over fast, and I won’t ask for any more!”
That promise worked just long enough to capture the moment before my daughter turned this staged “hug” into a shove, which was answered by my son tackling her to the ground. Now it was my turn for a heavy sigh.
But at least I got the picture to prove our day was perfect, right? Right?? Maybe not. Sigh.
The truth is our day was perfect, arguments and all. I’ve come a long way in my 14 years of parenting. I’ve learned to see the lessons in the struggles. The growth in the pain. The value of service in washing piles of laundry for the blessing that is my family. Yet I still hold on to creating perfect pictures. Why?
Maybe I’m still trying to prove something to the Facebook world. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched my grandmother battle dementia, and I just can’t handle the thought of losing memories. Maybe it’s just my Type A personality – the girl who hates to color outside the lines. But the collection of perfect pictures is losing its luster in the deafening sound of sighing.
I decided to spend some time with my collection, looking for the joy those pictures were supposed to bring. I wanted to flag my favorites – the memories I couldn’t stand to lose, when I risked interruption of the moments to capture them.
The perfect pictures were certainly pretty. They made me smile. Not because they were so perfect, but because I could remember the conversations, the actions, even the arguments that happened around them. None of them made my “favorites” list.
The pictures that stood out as worthy of keeping forever…they are the stuff life is made of – the ones where personality trumps perfect every time. The ones that make my heart jump because it instantly recognizes the souls it is so deeply in love with.
For example, I remember the day we met a photographer at a beautiful park for my son’s birthday pictures. This was a place that we had never been to before and held no special meaning, but it was noted for being “picture perfect”. I made him wear nice clothes, and praised him for sitting through 50 different poses and combinations. Way too much money was spent on the perfect outcome. I don’t even know where those pictures are now.
But I knew exactly where to find this one. The one that happened after the photo shoot, when he could finally take it no more and tore off his shirt and shoes to run through the miniature waterfall. He was dirty, wet, and happy.
My daughter has reached the age of selfies, so it doesn’t take much to get a pose out of her these days. But when she was little? I used to beg and plead and dance behind the camera like a crazed monkey just for a glimpse of her elusive smile. I’m pretty sure she knew exactly what she was withholding, and I’m pretty sure she let me carry on with my antics on purpose. Even at only 12 months this favorite is all the proof I need.
Sure, I’ll keep pictures of her gorgeous smile. But this one still beats them all, because I can SEE her in this picture.
So I think I’m finally letting go of my obsession with capturing thousands of perfect moments. I think I can set the camera down after only a few shots for memory’s sake, without stressing over whose eyes were closed or whose collar wasn’t straight.
I knew I had reached a milestone of progress when school picture day went by and I didn’t even notice. There were no arguments over what they should wear, or whether their hair was perfectly combed. Why? Because I found this little jewel in my favorites pile, and I was secretly hoping for more pictures of real life – the moments when they proudly leave jam on their face because it was the best PB&J ever. The authentic ones that don’t need any touch-ups.
It’s a small smudge that only a mama would really notice. But it’s those smudges of imperfection that remind me how perfectly awesome this life really is. Not because of anything I’ve created or arranged or staged. But because every moment is a gift from God, and it’s already good.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.
~1 Timothy 4:4
Are you raising a parrot-sponge? To find out, and read more of Missy’s thoughts on parenting, try The Circles – Part 5 – Children.
Missy Funderburk is a writer exploring what it means to be a “real” Christian. She documents her journey on www.thepath2eternity.com. Missy does accounting for a living, but sometimes poems and blog posts interrupt tax returns. She recently transplanted from the Midwest to Florida with her family, where she enjoys biking, kayaking, and beach walks – none of which involve ice or snow.
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