I have been writing a lot about the importance of documenting the everyday moments in life, and not just doing the perfectly posed holiday card images. Well, in an effort to put my money where my mouth is, I have agreed to have our family do a “day in the life” photo session. This was more a result of of my poor impulse control than any attempt to make a point. Someone asked if there was anyone in Southern California that would be interested in a session, and before my brain caught up with my fingers, I was commenting that I would love a session. Alrighty then. The trick for me now is not backing out. And there are plenty of reasons to back out. I hate having my picture taken. My house is a mess. My house doesn’t look like the beautiful houses everyone else is posting pictures of. I need to lose weight. Need I go on? I’m guessing I am not the only person that has had these thoughts. I know I am not, in fact, because I have a email inbox full of people worrying about these things before sessions. A couple actually have cancelled over reasons like that. It’s not easy, I know.
The thing is, it is important. Very important. In ten years, you will wish you had just one picture of your toddler squishing your face or your baby asleep in your arms. You would cherish that picture, even if you were wearing a raggedy pair of yoga pants or your hair was a mess. When that toddler is grown and asking to borrow the car keys, and you can no longer conjure up an image of the tiny, chubby hands that used to need help stacking blocks, as you put the keys in a hand that practically belong to a man, now taller than you, having that picture would both break and melt your heart at the same time. I know this. I take endless pictures of Charlie because I know how fast it all goes. If I could go back and document the older two in the same way, I would do it in heartbeat. I mean, I took plenty of pictures, but if I knew then what I knew now……so many details that I would give anything to see, to have and keep.
Charlie is one well documented kid, but the thing is, I am not in any of the images. That is not cool and I know it. Have you ever lost a loved one? You know how important pictures can be. Imagine your kids losing you, and looking back through boxes of pictures (or computer folders full) for just one glimpse of you, and not finding anything. The picture you got rid of because of your double chin? Your daughter would remember how beautiful you looked when you laugh. The picture you deleted because you had no makeup on? Your great grandson would discover where he got his blue eyes. You see the extra pounds. Your kids will remember how you used to have family dance parties. I know this is easier said than done. I have twenty pounds that I have been trying to rid myself of since I had Charlie, two YEARS ago. Two years. Can’t really call that baby weight anymore. I could put off this photo session until I lost the weight, but let’s be real here, it’s already been two years. I’ve already left myself out of such a large piece of time with my kids. And you know what? It doesn’t matter how much I weigh. I deserve to have those pictures. My kids deserve it. I am still me. This is still my life. I may not think I am beautiful or photogenic, but me rocking my son to sleep IS beautiful. Laughing with my kids IS beautiful…..even if it gives me double chins. My baby asleep on my chest IS damn beautiful, dark circles, old pajamas and all. What you do every day is beautiful. If you don’t believe me, let me photograph it. I will show you. You know what? Let ANYONE photograph it. But let’s not opt out anymore.
I am not backing out of this photo session. Not because of my weight. Not because of my house. Would I love hardwood floors and granite counter tops? Of course. But you know what? Granite counter tops don’t make food taste better and they don’t make family gatherings more fun. My old couch is where I have read books to three kids and fed two newborns. That is what I am going to look at in these photographs in ten years. Me reading to my baby. The couch won’t even be noticed. Is my house more cluttered and lived in looking than I would like? Of course. But I actually dread the day that it is not, because that means my kids have grown out of living their lives in it with me. I know someday I will long for this chaos and clutter, and maybe even the stickiness. Clean windows mean my baby no longer touches them as he watches birds outside. I know how important all of these details are. These things are what make up my life. They are what make my life worth living. These small moments that I share with my favorite people every day. This is what matters. This is everything. I want to have this all saved so that I can look back and remember. And I want to make sure that when I look, I am there, standing, rocking, laughing, and dancing, right where I should be. And I hope you are there, too.