Let's talk about family pictures. Or rather the story behind family pictures. Maybe you have a similar story. And maybe you don't.I've wanted to do family pictures for as long as I've had a little family. Seriously. I wanted pictures when MK was a newborn, but we all know that didn't work out. I've wanted them year after year after year, but it's just never happened.
Enter the sweet and talented Emily. She's not only our friend, but a super talented photographer. And wife. And mommy to three. Yep, she's superwoman! And, she was offering mini-sessions.
When I approached Travis with the idea, I got this:
T: We already have family pictures.
Me: No we don't.
T: Well, why can't you take them? You have a great camera and you like to take pictures.
Me: Well babe, if I take the pictures, then I can't be in them. It's family pictures. All three of us together.
T: You could just set the picture up and then someone else could snap the shot.
Me: I don't want to do that. I want to get dressed, go somewhere and have someone else think about all of that. I only want to have to think about whether to smile with teeth showing or not. Besides, I'm not a photographer. Photographers have an eye for this sort of thing.
T: Well, I really like your pictures. I think you are great.
Me: And I love you for that, BUT I'm booking the session. Mmmmkay?!?
The pictures were scheduled for a Friday evening. I was so excited. I could tell Travis wasn't as excited as I was, but I was okay with that. MK and I had been out shopping all day with my mom and Trenholm. I had been tossing around outfit options with both of them, and Trenholm had let me borrow a few tops to try. Around 4ish we headed home to get ready for our "family session". On the drive home I explained to MK that I had picked out THE perfect outfit for her to wear. It was going to be so cute and so colorful and she would be just beautiful. Two things happened here, and it was at this moment that I began to get a little worried. One, from my mirror I saw her yawn. She was tired. Two, the minute I mentioned which outfit I wanted her to wear, she said, "No, I don't like that one." I decided to leave it alone for the minute. Surely by the time we actually left for the pictures she would change her mind.
When we got home I started to get ready. I tried on six different shirts and settled on one that Travis said looked more like me. While I was getting ready I started talking with MK about her outfit again.
Me: "Morgan Kate, it's going to be so cute. YOU are going to be so cute. It will look great."
MK: I don't want to wear that.
Me: Well, that's what I would like for you to wear. It's one of my favorite outfits on you. Please wear it for Mommy.
MK: I want to wear a dress. I don't want to wear pants.
I continued pleading and she started crying. I was hot and bothered from changing my shirt three dozen times, the clock was ticking, my patience was wearing. I even tried bribing her with a little lip gloss and blush. Nothing was working. She was getting more and more upset, and I was getting more and more aggravated. We were arguing some. Okay, maybe a lot. I could tell Travis was getting irritated about the arguing. He was trying his best to appease both of us. I was also getting an awful look into our future, when MK is about 14 or so, and I was a bit terrified.
I pretty much forced the outfit on her. She was still crying. I wanted to cry as well. Travis wasn't saying anything. And I kept saying, "All I wanted was a family picture. ONE family picture. That's it."
Let me interject here and say that I realize you have to pick and choose your battles. I get that. And most days I really don't care what she wears. I'm learning to let that go. This day was a great learning experience. I respect her individuality and creativity. Her opinion does matter to me and I want her to be comfortable in what she wears. Isn't that what we all want? We all want to get dressed and like the way we look and like what we are wearing. But for that one evening, those few pictures, I wanted her to wear what I wanted her to wear.
If that's wrong, so be it.
I suddenly realized that we needed to leave the house like five minutes ago and I still had no shoes on my feet. I finished getting ready in record speed, while sweating profusely, and we all headed to the car. She was still crying, Travis was beyond aggravated and I was mumbling under my breath, "I should just call and cancel. This is ridiculous."
Not a word was spoken on the drive over. I kept thinking in my head, "How did we get to this point? Wow. These are going to be awesome pictures. NOT."
I seriously wanted to pick up the phone, call Emily and tell her that we just couldn't make it. That my family was having an outfit crisis and we just couldn't come. But, I didn't.
Once we got about five minutes away from our destination, and I had calmed down, I tried talking to MK. I tried explaining to her that she was four and that sometimes she could choose what to wear and sometimes Mommy was going to choose. And this was one of those times where Mommy was going to choose. I also told her that the minute we got back home she could change her clothes and she wouldn't have to wear that outfit again. At least until school started. Then I turned around to hear her response and she was asleep. Side note here, this was probably also the time that the ear infections were starting, but none of us had any idea. So, she's tired, she's mad about what she has to wear, and the poor baby just doesn't feel good. Like I've said before, I'm not going to be winning any "Mom of the Year" awards anytime soon.
I went ahead and woke her up and tried to talk to her. She was half with me, half not. I also tried to talk to Travis and explain my reasoning. I attempt to explain my desire to have this picture made with a happy husband and daughter.
I'm sure the minute we got out of the car Emily was probably thinking, "Wow, this is going to be so much fun. These people are a HOT MESS." Ironically enough, by this time MK is okay. And she's excited that we are going to get to walk into really tall grass. I've settled down and Travis, like always, is trying his best to make his girls happy. He's actually smiling and cracking jokes and making fun of us for being so dramatic. We tell Emily the whole story and she also starts cracking jokes and making fun of us and it's perfect. Emily is so laid back and she did such a great job of making us feel relaxed.
It's those classic family pictures. The pictures where minutes before everyone is like, "This is awful", "I don't want to wear this", "I hate taking pictures", "You will wear what I want you to wear and you will pretend to like it", and then the minute the camera is up, it's, "Smile, pretend we are happy", "Pretend we are really do love this", "Just smile and act like this is fun." Except, it really was. Seriously, it was so much fun. We really were happy, once we got there. We laughed so hard and Emily got some pretty amazing shots. I absolutely love the pictures and the thing about pictures is, they are forever. The frustration and fussing and arguing, that's all temporary, or it is for us. But the pictures, they last a lifetime. And we couldn't be happier with them. Emily is so talented and has a true gift. I'm so thankful for her and for these pictures.
And besides, Momma likes to know that she was right. (Only joking.) When we saw the first proofs, Travis said, "Wow, these really are so good. I'm glad we did this." And when MK saw them, "These are so pretty. I look beautiful, Mommy. And so do you. And Daddy. I like them a lot."
Maybe by next year this time I can convince my little family to do this again. And maybe next time, I'll let MK pick out her outfit. Or at least help me.