We get professional family pictures taken each year around Christmas (just in time for the Christmas cards, of course). They are important to me because it's pretty much the only time in history where all 6 of us are in front of the camera, not to mention looking less homeless than usual.
This year we waited until Daivy was born (Thanksgiving week) and had to hurriedly CRAM pictures in so we could get Christmas cards in time. The only appointment slot available was at 8:15am (ouch) on a Saturday (double ouch). We woke up, I barked orders at the kids and Bubba all morning, we tumbled into the car, sped to the studio where we arrived 10 minutes late, then spent the next 50 minutes forcing smiles and trying to act natural and happy in order to get THE PERFECT family photo.
Later that day I got an email with our edited, completed pictures. As I scrolled through them my heart sank.
I didn't see a single perfect picture.
In fact, I saw flaws. MAJOR flaws. My stomach tightened and I found myself getting more and more angry with each picture I clicked through.
I clicked, and clicked, and clicked. The flaws kept piling up.
Beck not smiling. Priya kicking off her shoe. Daivy scrunched up.
Weird lighting. Too much red. Frizzy hair. Unnatural arms.
Beck: a moving blur.
Not a single shot of him standing still, let alone smiling “normal”.
Daivy, playing peekaboo with someone scary.
Hutch's cheesy smile. My flat hair. Bubba's unflattering angle. All of us awkwardly posed on the ground. All the yellow on the front row.
Within minutes I went from angry to FUMING. I was convinced the entire shoot was a disaster, not a single picture was worth using on our Christmas cards. I called the studio right then and there and tried to be civil, while explaining that my photographer was the worst person on the planet, needed to be fired, then burned at the stake. (Ok fine…or I politely asked to be able to choose more photo options because I didn't like the ones she sent to us.) They said they'd get back to me. (In case you're wondering, that's studio speak for “we're busy, you're crazy, your pictures are fine, buzz off.”)
Just then my mom called. Of course. Perfect! Someone to be mad at the world with me!
I huffed and puffed to her about how horrible our pictures were, and how disappointed everyone would be to not receive a perfect Christmas card from us this year. “Oh no! Send them to me so I can see.” I sent her the link, excited to have a wingman for the stake-burning. She opened the link and started clicking through the pictures. But instead of frustration and empathy…
After a few moments she faintly says into the phone, “oh Jordan…”
(right?? Mom, aren't you as mad as me? Isn't life so unjust and isn't this the worst studio on the planet? Aren't you excited to break down their door with an oversized log like they do in Beauty and the Beast?)
“…they are beautiful.”
Screetch. “Er, come again?”
“Priya's hair, it's so angelic!”…”Oh, look at sweet Daivy, they caught her with her eyes open!”…”(chuckle) I love the one with the kids where Priya is kicking off her shoe. That's just so her, isn't it?”…”Oh! Look at Beck! This could be on the cover of a magazine! That silly boy, you'll be so glad to have such a capture of his wiggly personality…”
Only this time, it was on my end.
Is she looking at the same pictures I am? Could I somehow have sent her the wrong link, one to a normal-looking family with pictures that could actually be used anywhere other than to line a bunny cage with?
I brought the pictures up on my computer again, and started clicking.
My heart was immediately softened. She was right. Priya did look like a wild little angel. click. Her kicking off her shoe really was a perfect representation of her personality. click. Daivy's eyes were open, and gorgeous. click. And Beck? Oh my heart, how hilarious is he?
Since that “stop-me-in-my-tracks” lesson, several weeks have passed. I still have the photos on my computer and I pull them up from time to time. I fall in love with the pictures more and more each time.
The flaws that used to frustrate me about the pictures, are now the things I love the most.
How often in life do we spend more time nit-picking imperfections, than we do embracing them? Whether it's ourselves (appearance, personality, life, financial situation, relationships, lack of relationships), others (her hair does this, she talks like that, she's probably this or that, her kids are bladi blah), our location, life, world, children, WHATEVER! If you stop and really take notice, it's astounding how much our lives are dictated by the imperfections we feel we have…and our efforts in trying to squash, cover up, or ignore them.
Take this blog for example.
If you haven't noticed, I rarely post any more. It's 1-2 times per week if I'm lucky. Why? Well, I'm busy. I have 4 kids under 5, for heaven's sake! But in all honesty, a major reason for the lack of posting is because I've started thinking – without realizing it – that I shouldn't post it until it's perfect.
In my phone I have a list of dozens of AMAZING post ideas that I really want to write, or videos that I really want to make. But they haven't happened yet because I haven't had the time to “make it amazing” that day. The lighting isn't good. My makeup isn't right. I'm wearing a hoodie and don't want to put on a normal shirt. I don't have time to haul out all the fancy tripod/lighting kid/HD camera thingie-ma-bobbies before the kids wake up from their naps, so I
Well, folks, I've decided that's dumb.
Starting today, I'm not going to let imperfections limit me any more. I'm going to invite friends over, even if my house isn't perfectly clean. If I want to record and post a video, even if it's dark lighting, my hair is horrible, I have only 1/2 my makeup on because I ran out of time that day, and I only have time to record it with my phone, then I'm going to post it, gosh dangit!
Because really, at the end of the day, everyone is spending so much time focusing on themselves and their own life imperfections, I highly doubt people are spending much time focusing on mine. And if they are, then we just need to feel sad for those people because they must be very lonely. And bored.
Starting today I'm going to push forward and THRIVE this year, and not let imperfections slow me down. After all, most of the time the things that we feel are imperfect, are actually quite beautiful once we embrace them as such. Even my annoyingly flat hair.