I may drop a lot of things off by the wayside, but I hope and usually assume that I'm not the only mom who does that.
Unfortunately, I seem to have way too many talented friends who seem to juggle children, cookies, home baked dinners, husbands, and kodak family quality moments with truly enviable ease and negate my assumptions of solidarity in mom-failing.
Case in point: our family Christmas photo card. Big fail there guys. As in, never really happened kind of fail. Anywho, I comfort myself that in the big and beautiful scheme of life, it's not really a big deal if the Christmas card doesn't happen. At least I fed my kids dinner right?
I also comfort myself with the fact that there are turbo-moms and than there are so-so moms, and also there are mamas and the real popular Ma! moms and in reality, if Christmas cards happen or not happen doesn't automatically put you in the so-so category or the Ma! category; in fact, it really doesn't affect the scales at all. Or so I tell myself.
But there is something to be said about the family portrait. Ahh the family. In these days of fractured relationships and broken families, and yes, selfies, I am pretty sure my Christmas card fail barely registers on the books. Because to make a family portrait, the family must be all together, in one place, at the same time. I'm clarifying this point because it is you see, very important, and one of the reasons why getting your christmas card done is easier said, than done.
Remember the old days? The really old days before digital photography? Before color, before fast exposures, when the "sitters" who were called thus for good reason because sitting down for a photo was a real time commitment, since it took forever and ever to make an exposure. Can you only imagine trying to get your toddler to sit still without moving a muscle for fifteen minutes? No wonder people in those daguerreotype photos look like they wish they were ANYWHERE else but sitting with frozen bums and limbs clutching toddlers who were probably beaten into submission by a terrifying nanny or governess. I suppose the family portrait was always a big deal, no matter how much we like to downplay that fact today. Sure it only takes a second to snap a picture, but what about the years of work, of tears, the sunny days, the rainy days, the joys and the pains that go into making the family sitting there?
Families take all sorts of shapes and sizes these days, and photos can lie and often do, but regardless, a family photo is something that I never wanted to fall by the wayside. So when it looked like getting a photo done of us was like something out of those days of photography sitter torture, I had to wonder at my mom rating. Have I really slipped so much and lost focus of "family"? I think it is not unusual for families with special needs kiddos, and so I yet again use my little Lion excuse. Because of Leo's unresolved seizures I, and by extension the rest of my family, have opted out of a lot of family type outings and activities. Because of stress, because of tiredness, because of this and that, I can justify my mom fails. But then I realized the other day, perhaps they aren't failures, but just simplification of an needlessly busy and chaotic lifestyle? Why should I feel like I have to be the perfect mom? Do my kids look at me and think, gee she really bombed it today in the mom department? No, it more likely that my kids look at me and think, gee I think she needs to ____(insert any conceivable desire or demand)__for me right now.
I don't think going to incredible lengths to stage a perfect shot is a necessity, but for as long as there have been families and for as long as we have had the capabilities to capture an image wether through charcoal, paint, or photography, there have been family portraits. Staged or not, fancy or simple, large or small, broken or whole, there is an undeniable value and perhaps truth to the family portrait, especially now, when more families are fractured and splintered; in this age of photo-edits, camera angles, and lies, what can a simple family portrait tell us? I believe it's not just what it tells us, but what it stands for. A reminder and a confirmation; a repurposing if you will of all the little things that occupy our lives. Life may be in the details but it's easy to get lost and forget the bigger picture. After all, it's pretty simple right? In the end the reasons for most of the things you do in life are the ones that sit next to you in the Christmas family photo.
Though there was no card this year, and even though it's late, we managed to pull off a photo of our family this year after all.
Happy New Years friends! From all of us.