“Smile, not the fake toothy smile,” I said to my oldest daughter.
“Smooth your dress right there,” I pointed to my youngest daughter.
“Okay, 1…2…3…!” SNAP! I took the photo.
“Wait you blinked, let’s try again!”
Does this sound familiar?
We strive to capture that perfect family moment, the two kids smiling while wearing their matching outfits. They look at each other adoringly. This is the ultimate goal.
The only problem with this picture “perfect” moment is that it’s not my most memorable moment. Even if I’m able to capture a really great pose, like this one below, that photograph is not special to me.
Thirty minutes prior to this holiday photo in front of our Christmas tree is actually a more endearing moment for me. I was lying in bed with my two daughters making “cheese sandwiches.” By cheese sandwiches I mean that we were all piled up on top of each other hugging and giggling like a well-made hoagie. We take turns-two of us act cheesy while the remaining person attempts to smother the others with “bread” (a combination of the body, a blanket and silliness). Laughter shrieks from all of us during these sandwich making assemblies.
No one wants to see this moment. We don’t capture it with our camera. My stinky morning breath, crazy-haired girls try to cover me with their faded pajamas and flailing arms. They smile naturally and no prompting is needed.
That is the picture in my head, not this beautiful holiday portrait above. Those cheese sandwich images are the ones I will remember fondly. They are too authentic to be shared beyond my memory. They will sit in the core of my heart instead.
Two days ago a friend of mine said she wanted to schedule family portraits at the beach. She plans to dress her family members in all white. You’ve seen those pictures. Those do look very nice and can be very well done.
But they just don’t quite fit my particular family. I glace over at my girls now. We are better off capturing their stained t-shirts and smudged faces while playing in our backyard. They look more affectionate as they collect leaves, twigs and rocks for a scavenger hunt they created last week.
We will continue to capture the “perfect” moments. The act of it is just ingrained in our existence. Plus, the grandparents really seem to love those posed photos. But in my mind, I’ll replay the mental snapshots that truly capture my family’s spirit–the imperfect, stinky, dirty instances that are just us and ours alone.