In this picture, taken in Havana last year, the girls are laughing at me because I am trying to look natural for this picture.
One of my daughters (or all): “Mom, you don’t smile and you hate it when people take pictures of you.”
Me: “I do smile. See?” I flash a really bad, artificial, pearly-white, awkward smile.
Cue laughter. And then I actually laugh at the ridiculousness of this attempt at a candid picture. (Which in the end turned out candid because Ever-Patient kept taking pictures as this conversation took place.)
I often look at pictures and remember what was actually going on in my mind, underneath the surface of the smiles and poses. There is always a back story.
In the picture above, notice #5 on my lap looking with apprehension to the left. #1 is trying to scooch as close as she can to us and has her uncomfortably polite smile on her face. #4, who is sitting to the right of me (left in the pic), has that nervous smile going on. This is a beautiful shot taken by Dawn Alexander but what you don’t see to the right of us is a homeless man shouting f-bombs at us. It’s rather humorous and growing up in an urban centre, not something new for me but still hard to ignore let alone maintain a “natural” smile.
Now in this picture, Ever-Patient and I are in Jamaica to attend a friend’s wedding – without the kids. I was still nursing #5 before we left and it was time to wean our 3 year old. This picture was taken about 3-4 days into the trip and I am painfully engorged. I had to wear a wrap over my bathing suit at the beach because I had grown a couple of cup sizes seemingly overnight. Underneath it all, I am trying not tot squirm in discomfort in this picture as my loving husband pulls me in close for a rare shot of the two of us.
And here I am in my pyjamas…swinging my dear friend, the 12kg kettlebell. I tweaked my elbow a few weeks ago and after weeks of just doing “Original Strength” resets, I am easing into training again so I asked #2 to take a picture of me swinging. It’s a message to myself to keep it simple. It’s an instant energy boost and it takes 10 minutes. A blurry photo that is a personal message to myself but to everyone else, well, it’s just a blurry photo.
Underneath the static expressions and behind most pictures, there is a story. I wish we could flip over those snapshots and reveal the real story underneath. A B-side of life behind all those loud and quiet moments. I find there is always something just below the surface, just under the the seemingly obvious. I’ve seen photos of myself where I appear to be calm when in fact there was a storm causing turmoil inside.
But there are also those rare photos where it captures the moment so authentically that I am instantly transported back to that exact place and time; photos where there is no explanation necessary – the picture simultaneously speaks at least a thousand words and none at all.
“The Goodbye Daddy” photo…(this slaughters me every time):
“The Big Welcome Back Kiss from Mama” (and the photo-bomb by #4):
My life is composed of both types of days – the days where we are holding it all in and hiding behind a facade because we just can’t bear to leave ourselves open and there are days where we wear our hearts on our sleeves and feel safe to reveal the raging river of emotion to the world.
Another balancing act that I perform but underneath it all, underneath the photos and the snippets of life, the stories are the real bits that make up my continuing life story. The best part? Sharing this “behind-the-scenes” commentary with the kids. Sometimes they have a different perspective of the situation which adds to “our” story. Layers are peeled back, laughter or tears flow naturally, and we all, for that moment in time, understand each other a little better.
Do you have photos that have a”B side”? Try pulling them out today and tell the back story to your kids!
Oh and one more thing, I am excited to be guest posting today over at Simple Homeschool!