Picture This….Or Don’t

In all likelihood you have a storage bin full of adorable school pictures and family snapshots that are taking up precious space in your basement wedged next to one of those As Seen on TV ab cruncher contraptions that you used once but are pretty sure you will use again when you have an overwhelming desire to look like you are straining to poop on your living room carpet. That bin of snapshots is priceless. Especially when your kids surpass cute smiles and pigtails and enter the danger zone of permanent scowls and teenage rage. We have officially arrived at this sacred photo space in our children’s lives and it has become a full time job to get one god damn photo I can send to grandma without having to explain the expression on each of my sweet children’s faces. I won’t be sending anyone school photos this year due to extenuating circumstances (we forgot it was picture day) and Sharpie markers (which were used to create a “artistic” look). You are welcome.

 Harry Potter or satanic cult leader? It's hard to decide which is my personal favorite.

Harry Potter or satanic cult leader? It’s hard to decide which is my personal favorite.

Every fall we attempt family photos. This tradition stems from my unending need to portray myself as a human mother who is very organized, keeps her children frequently bathed, and cares about the state of their clothing. I’m not that person. My son showers once a week and I’m willing to wager good money on the fact that he doesn’t use soap. My kids generally leave the house in whatever happens to be clean or clean-ish. Ripped jeans, tshirts that have been attacked by scissors, and mismatched socks because WHO HAS TIME FOR SOCK MATCHING? THAT ISN’T A THING. We never, ever look like our family photos in real life. But every year I mail out umpteen numbers of Christmas cards with an adorable photo on the front in order to confuse and astound the people who know us. For those who don’t, now you know. Those photos take around 6,000 hours to perfect so I hope you appreciate the time I take to make us look like people we aren’t.

So, I set the date for our photo session this year and then it was time to figure out the clothing situation. Since we have a teenager who refuses to wear anything that could be deemed “adorable” or “sweet” I decide to let her lead the way in clothing choices. And by clothing choices, I mean allowing her to pick a color we can all assimilate to, not an entire outfit. Mostly because the rest of us aren’t really interested in wearing a Panic At The Disco band tshirt, black jeans from Hot Topic, and 14 layered jackets. She shocked no one by picking black.

“Maybe this won’t be as painful as I had planned. We can all find attractive black clothing for one picture.” I thought.

Then Miss 14 asked if she had to smile for the pictures and how long it would take and would it be hot outside and would other people see the pictures and maybe she would wear maroon jeans or a green jacket….and then my head exploded and we had family pictures taken where I was headless because…teenage life.

"Just pose naturally on this log." #nailedit

“Just pose naturally on this log.”

The day of the family picture arrives and I forbid anyone from eating or drinking for four hours (DON’T TELL ME YOU DON’T ACT THIS CRAZY). The last thing I need is have Mr. 10 show up on our Christmas cards with a GoGurt squirt on the front of shirt and then have people thinking we wear our picture day clothes to eat in like some kind of barbarians. So we are all starving and driving to the middle of nowhere because the middle of nowhere is where you get really great family pictures that make it look like you live on a farm next to a dilapidated hay barn but you wear city clothes there because you aren’t really a farmer, you are just pretending to be one for your family photos and you all sit on a hay bail which makes sense because PERFECT FAMILY PHOTOS, PEOPLE.

When you live vicariously through farm living but only for photos because...too much work.

When you live vicariously through farm living but only for photos because…too much work.

I make the mistake of wearing a new tank top that I bought specifically for this occasion because the summer has been super kind to my midsection and everything in my closet made me look like we would be blessed with another addition to our family in 4 months which could be a really confusing look on Christmas cards.

“I didn’t know Mandy was expecting.”

“She just likes burritos and porch sitting.”

Sadly the new shirt wasn’t working as well as I had hoped so I’m tugging and stuffing the softest parts of my body as we get our photos done and once they are printed and posted on the wall, I notice that I have lopsided boobs in most pictures so hooray for trying hard to not look like a wretch.

In addition to my breast situation, there was hay everywhere so Mr. 10’s eyes began watering and he spent most of the photo session looking as if he had poured Tabasco in his eye sockets. The sun was stationed perfectly to make Miss 14 think she was having heat stroke which she may have been considering she wore all black and two winter jackets in 80 degree weather. The hubs was overly concerned about which side of his face photographed better and exactly how slimming his black shirt really was. I’m tucking my boobs and looking around at this group of hooligans I call family and thinking “We are not fooling anyone with these Christmas card photos.”

The only thing Miss 14 had to say about the end result of all my tireless work to get fall family photos was “I look squishy.” Mr 10 was just as impressed “I like all of the pictures except the ones with that kid in them.” As he points to himself in every photo. Bless these years of family photos. When you get your Christmas card this year just know…we are a shit show in real life, we don’t live on a farm, and my boobs aren’t really lopsided. Yet.