I remember this day so well. I remember how tired and wore out I had become. My hormones were crazy, I was getting little to no sleep, and I had four other children that needed attention, food, schooling, and refereeing in addition to the consistently needy newborn. I was barely hanging on.
My mom set up this photo session at her house. The photographer was a friend to her and wanted to give this to my mother as a gift. Truly I was the one who received the gift. It was God's provision because had it not been offered and planned by an outside party, I would have none of these precious memories preserved. Over the following year my body gave up on me. My thyroid and multiple essential processes for life began to shut down and I found myself unable to get out of bed in the morning. I have little to no memories, but I have these pictures.
Most people look at this picture and see that angelic baby face and a mama in love with her new son. When I peel my eyes away from the angel baby, I see black eyes, hair that's not fixed, and a mama just trying to do her best with what she was given.
That morning, I did my best to dress my children for their pictures and make the memory of them from this day look worthy to be digitally embedded for eternity. It was all I could muster. It wasn't much. I wanted to be in the picture, but I could hardly make myself look acceptable. I wore very little makeup, a T-shirt and some athletic pants. My hair needed fixing. I sometimes wonder if the photographer didn't take one look at me and think, "No way am I going to be able to make these pictures work with her looking like that."
But she did. Honestly, I think it was all those factors that make this picture so perfect. I don't take good pictures... ever. Not even the most talented photographers have been able to capture good pictures of me. I have seen the look on their face over and over again after snapping that camera, wondering why I look so awkward or unnatural. They've tried to coach me and help me, but it always turns out the same. My mouth turns down naturally which makes me appear as if I'm frowning, unless I have a big smile on my face. I feel uncomfortable on display, which is translated and exaggerated by a camera lens.
This day, I didn't try. I just was. I reconciled myself to this bland version of me, knowing it couldn't be any worse than all those times I actually tried.
It was in the giving up of trying to capture the perfect image that allowed me to have this honest image. This is me. My mouth may turn down naturally and make it difficult to capture a good smile, but it doesn't matter here. My eyes may have been black from exhaustion and illness, but it doesn't matter here. It's me.
Turns out the honest, raw version of myself is the one I like the most. Of course, the baby helps an awful lot too since I can't take my eyes off him.
Four years later I am so grateful I allowed this to happen despite my lack of preparation. I am so grateful I didn't obsess over not having everything perfect. I'm so thankful I just let it be.