He can be a perfect angel. In fact on days like yesterday, he was. Until the very moment he sets foot inside the portrait studio.
I like my camera. I like candid shots, snapshots of life that capture the essence of my babies better than any professional in a department store photo studio. The pictures may not be as high in photo quality, but in personality and realness, they are far superior.
To my mother-in-law, however, professional photos are important. They officially document the process of growing up and changing in a setting that depicts unity and continuity with any other siblings in the family. In coordinated outfits, of course. At least that is what I have come to know as I observe the things that she likes. And I respect this.
Until it sends me to the funny farm.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
Jeannie is scheduled to arrive from SoCal on April 30th. In an attempt to please Jim’s mom and spare my children from any needless stress, I concocted a brilliant plan, or so it seemed in theory. Since I am marginally in tune with my kids’ schedules and personalities (translate: attention spans), I attempted to lay out a portrait session strategized to minimize stress, pain, meltdowns, and unforseeable emotional implosions. Children do best when in familiar territory with familiar (read: parental) people. Right? In theory.
I am an idiot.
Being the mother does not give me powers magical enough to divert all possible glitches. It should. It involves a certain level of magic, or superpower. Apparently, not enough.
The City of Charlottesville is out to get me.
I began in the morning. I ironed the coordinating articles of clothing. I set up an appointment that would fall immediately after naptime, ensuring optimum emotional stamina. The children were placed in there respective carseats in clean diapers and nothing else. This eliminated a) the possibility of soiling/wrinkling their clothing, and b) time wasted attempting to undress the small ones and redressing said wiggleworms upon arrival. I acquired an additional set of hands, the ever helpful and competent Bee-Rytleigh. I was on the way to juvenile photographic success.
One of the busiest intersections in town was being paved at one of the busiest times of the day. Like I said, out to get me.
It took an hour to drive a 20 minute distance.
Still, it could work, I thought… Except that I forgot to acknowledge the fact that:
- My children had been in the car for a whole 60 minutes.
- My children had been in the car for 60 minutes.
- They are all under 3 years of age.
- They are children.
- They are my children, and therefore carry my genetics for attracting disaster.
- I attract disaster.
- I have 3 children, 50% more than I had the last time I attempted to get pictures made.
- They have excellent memories when it comes to recollecting previous stillness-requiring episodes.
- They are under 3.
- Molly is 7 weeks old.
And I am 7 weeks postpartum.
Getting the kids into the strollers was uneventful. Getting the half-naked angels into the store: no problem. Dressing the darlings: too easy.
Levi took one step into the portrait studio and melted. Tears the size of small lakes began to fall. He knew what was coming. Endless arranging and rearranging. Posing and smiling on command. Noisemaking toys and a stranger snapping pictures. That cool fort that he wouldn’t be allowed to hide in. All those flashes.
Emberleigh hasn’t decided yet that she likes Molly enough to smile in a picture with her. She is the perfect princess until another princess encroaches on her territory. Then she is still a princess because princesses DO NOT like to be upstaged by other little princesses. Period.
Molly is 7 weeks old.
They had conspired beforehand: precisely staggered timing of each one’s respective meltdown.
In the space of an hour, 45 minutes over the booked timeslot, the photographer had managed to acquire a meager 3 shots. 3…
Desperately holding on to the dignity I had remaining (all my sanity and intelligence had long since vanished), selected the best of the pathetic poses, doled out cash for the disaster captured on film, and marched my now silent offspring out to the van to go home and weep.
I gave it a shot. I attempted the impossible. When the pictures, and by ‘picutres’ I mean copies of the 1 picture, are ready, I may not even look at them. I may pick up the package, bring it home, and shove it in a drawer to be dealt with at a much later time. Perhaps when I am a grandmother.
Or maybe it will be the moment of perfection from a far from perfect day.
No, that’s not going to happen.
This suffices for me:
I will take the best candid photos from Easter and work some magic at CVS’ 1 hour photo booth. Because I rule like that. I am the mom. I have magical powers.
I went. I failed. I still conquered. Not sure what, but I conquered, nonetheless. Perhaps it was the thought. I didn’t think it could be done, and I was right, but I tried it anyways. That’s a win in my book. At this point in the game.
And I have pretty babies. Pretty, happy babies.
And this one…
Even if I have to wait until they are in preschool for a posed picture.