National holidays. A time to spend celebrating with family and friends making memories that last a lifetime. A time when calories don’t count and you can eat whatever you want without any repercussions. A time to blast everyone’s newsfeed with pictures of your kid(s) in their festive garb looking well-behaved and content.
I am as guilty as the next person (maybe even more so) of taking advantage of the opportunity to to showcase my kids in outfits painstakingly chosen and coordinated for the occasion while I look like a sad, TJ Maxxinista from three seasons ago. Makeup optional.
I love seeing everyone’s photos. I really really do. UNIVERSAL LIKE TO ALL HOLIDAY PHOTOS OF KIDS! And pets, too. However, as I scroll through picture after picture of perfectly posed photos of children smiling directly at the camera actually touching their sibling, I can’t help but wonder – does anyone else have as much difficulty as I do getting a frame worthy photo? Is anyone else spending 5 minutes that feels like four hours trying to get the perfect shot? Does anyone else break into a sweat, pleading with the force of a thousand suns for their children to look at the frigging camera and if they can be bothered, smile?
Any decent picture I have of my children is hard fought, so please don’t let social media fool you. Taking holiday photos of my kids is the equivalent of running a marathon in terms of effort and total calories burned. My process begins with getting them “camera ready”. After spending 20 minutes changing diapers and getting the kids into their outfits, I calmly announce that I’m taking pictures and that afterwards we will do some promised fun activity to make up for the torture that I’m apparently about to put them through. This is also the point where my husband slowly backs out of the room to do something as trivial as “getting ready” or “brushing his teeth.” I’ve abandoned personal hygiene a long time ago, so there’s nothing standing in between me and getting this staged photo op.
The first hurdle: getting them to actually sit close enough to each other where I can fit them in the same frame. AJR usually sits a good two feet away from Olivia and Olivia has now become very distracted by the balls of dust that accumulate on the floors I don’t clean nearly as often as I should. Or if we’re outside, bugs and grass are “must have” items for her mouth.
Second step, getting them to both look at the camera and smile. Cue to me flapping my arms, alternating between fart noises and singing songs, and saying “What’s on Mommy’s head?? Does she have a phone on her head? Does she have a car on her head? Does she have any brains left IN her head??” All of this is going on while I hold down the shutter on my iPhone bursting the crap out of whatever it is they’re doing in the hopes I can capture one good photo.
Third step: review photos. Out of the 1,283 that I took, none of them work. AJR is picking his nose, Olivia’s bow is askew, neither kid is looking at the camera,etc. etc. etc. Sigh heavily. Re-apply deodorant. Announce that we are going to try again while keeping my voice upbeat like this is fun! Up the ante with some enticing bribes: fruit snacks, lollipop, or my eternal gratitude.
Step four: repeat process with similar results. Husband may or may not take pity on me and attempt to get the kids to cooperate. Usually with our powers combined, the stars align for 0.3 seconds and I can get the one shot that isn’t completely terrible. Today was not that day. Clearly my kids are communists and hate America.
Solo, Olivia is a pretty good and easy model. She smiles at anything, works her chubby cheeked angles, offers up lots of different poses for me to choose from. Her biggest downfall is her newfound mobility and since breaking her legs so she doesn’t move would probably be frowned upon, I have to get creative in putting her in places where she can’t crawl off and plummet to her doom.
At 2 1/2, AJR is over the constant barrage of photos and could care less about my desire to document these special, forced family times. AJR does not cooperate unless I manage to find some sort of combination of bribe and hilarious new noise/phrase that tickles his fancy. And of course this random combination never works more than once, so if you miss the shot, you are SOL. He complies when I ask him to say “cheese” but I know he purposefully doesn’t look at the camera and instead keeps his eyes pointed towards the ground as the ultimate F you, mommy.
This is not an exaggeration: it took 52 photos to get this patriotic shot of AJR with the thumbs up and dorky grin. I counted. And wept.
I didn’t even attempt to count how many total photos I took of AJR & Olivia together because it was such an absurd amount and I was stage-mom frustrated that I couldn’t get a decent photo of them together despite trying multiple times in multiple venues.
The best picture of the weekend came on July 3rd during a trip to get ice cream when I had them both on my lap and those little narcissists could see how good they looked when I reversed the camera. Trust that those smiles aren’t coming because they love to be with Mommy; it’s because they take such delight in their own faces. Of course, it’s this redeeming photo that will make me forget what turds there were as I delete outtake after outtake.
I am exhausted. Defeated and depleted. Which is what I imagine was their sinister plan all along. Thankfully, the next major holiday isn’t until Halloween, so I have plenty of time to learn PhotoShop so I can splice together a decent photo as them taking one simultaneously is a near impossibility. And if not, at least there is Ruby. She’s my favorite anyway. Take THAT, kids.