Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Family Portrait

We've been trying for years to get a good family photo. The last decent one was taken when Sky was six months old (so, roughly seven years ago) by our tried and true family photographer. The guy captured the senior years and weddings of just about everyone in my family. In fact, he's the one who suggested duct tape when my crummy bridesmaid gown ripped down the seam just minutes before my sister's sweltering outdoor wedding. (I still love him for that). I should probably just call him and set up a shoot. But, see, we don't live close to my folks anymore, so scheduling it and getting there isn't all that easy. Plus, he may have retired.

We managed to get a couple family shots done while we lived in Tokyo.  None of them particularly well-planned. The first picture we took on the day of Sky's entry into preschool. We literally travelled from the school to the photo studio so we could take a picture of ourselves in our entrance ceremony clothes. Nothing quite like schlepping small children (Sky age 3, Pink P 4 months) across Tokyo, on public transportation, in our dress clothes, on a hot day, in order to sit down for a formal picture. Fortunately, the glisten had disappeared from my brow before the picture and you can't smell me through the lens.

The same year, we decided to take Big Sissy's coming-of-age photos. Young adults in Japan have a ceremony in January of the year they turn twenty. That year, we were living in the States, so we didn't have a chance to take Big Sissy's formal pictures. Since we couldn't take pictures then, we took them when she came to visit us in Japan. Big Sissy looks great in the kimono. The rest of us look like we wandered in off the street. When I packed for the trip back to Ren's hometown, I wasn't thinking about taking a picture while we were there, so I didn't pack any of the appropriate clothes. No one matched. At all. We had flowers and stripes, beiges and pinks, blues and maroons. Bachan wore a plaid skirt with appliqué flowers on her sweater. Add to that the fact neither Sky or Pink P had grown into their clothes and you can get a sense of what we looked like. Think: The Clampett Family Does Japan. 

So a month or so ago, when our church announced that a professional photographer would be coming to do family pictures for the church directory, I thought it would finally be a chance to get a decent picture. I carefully planned for it. I made sure Sky and Pink P had haircuts (or, in Pink P's case, hadn't recently had one of my haircuts). I purchased outfits for the kids that fit and that were in colors that complemented each other. I scheduled the picture at a time that would ensure we weren't rushed in any way. Sky, Pink P, and I discussed what having our picture taken would entail and practiced a social story about it. The day of the picture, I came home early and gave the kids baths and made sure they had something in their tummies before we headed off to the picture.

Everybody did awesome. Ren was a trooper as he hobbled to the studio with his newly reconstructed back. Big Sissy carried Stow while I held Sky and Pink P's hands. When we went into the studio, everyone stood exactly where they were instructed to stand and smiled exactly when they were instructed to smile. It seemed too good to be true.

After the picture, when we sat to look at the digital proofs, I realized it was.

Everyone else looked great. Perfect, actually. But I looked very much like a mom of young children whose husband had just had back surgery and who was in need of a good night's sleep, some make up, and a haircut. (I could have also used a good trainer and a stylist, but that's probably asking for too much.)

The funny thing is that I didn't realize I needed sleep, make-up, and a haircut until I saw the pictures.

(Here's my artistic rendition of what we looked like):

Epic. Mom. Fail.


Sheila said...

Hello Mom in two cultures...I am proud that you were able to have that family picture taken! Yes, as moms we rarely even look at ourselves anymore. I would like to see the real picture! I am glad that you have so many hits to your blog.

Sandra Timmerman said...

Did you know that in Dutch M.O.E. "moe" stands for really really tired? How appropriate ;-)
Good story.