“Smile… smiiiiile… I. SAID. SMILE.”
That’s me, whenever I try to get a decent family pic. It’s always a struggle, because my kids don’t like the camera and my husband is worse. Out of a hundred shots I’m lucky to get one pic where they’re all looking in the same direction and aren’t squinting/scowling/ trying to kill each other.
That one “normal” pic goes on Facebook, and gets printed out for the grandparents and the occasional school project. Sometimes I look at it to assure myself that I am not raising wild beasts.
The other pics gets transferred into a digital archive that every parent owns and secretly dreads opening. Thousands of outtakes that remain unnamed and unsorted: crying, funny faces, blurry shots, random moments of cuteness and boredom. (All of us have taken one pic of our babies pooping – admit it.)
Shortly after my father died, we prepared a video tribute. I had to dive into this digital archive to look for pictures of him with the kids. There were the nice family pics: posed, pretty, perfect. But guess what made me cry.
My son, four months old, pulling my dad’s hair. The sheer delight on his face was just pure grandfather love.
My daughter, sitting on his lap, showing him her drawing. The photo was dark and the paper covered both their faces, but it captured the close and private bond the two of them shared. I remember how often she whispered her secrets into his ear.
There were pics of him teaching them how to ride a bike, gamely pretending to drink out of a princess tea cup, doing his crossword puzzles while they played Lego at his feet. There were holiday outtakes too – blurry, of course, because no kid stays still while trying out a new toy – but you could see how much dad enjoyed the chaos.
They weren’t smiling in any of the pics. But they were happy. And in all the blurry, poorly lit, awkwardly angled outtakes I could see the deep connection that my kids shared with their grandfather.
Life well lived.
My kids will always have those memories and photos with their grandfather. My only regret is that I didn’t take more.
So don’t worry about not getting the perfect family pic. The most treasured photos aren’t the ones you share on Facebook – they’re the ones that capture the moments shared with you.