Letting Go of Picture Perfect

Lemme tell you a little story about a mom who just wanted one photo of her 2 year old child smiling genuinely at the camera. It's a short story, so bare with me. They arrived at a gorgeous park very gussied up, with her unrealistically high expectations in tow. Ten minutes into the shoot, the rambunctious toddler wanted to play with leaves and climb trees but that, of course, didn't fall within the mom's plans of how this shoot was gonna go down. So the remaining 30 or so minutes were filled with forced hugs, bribes of candy, gritting of teeth, and tears. A bit from both mom and son. Spoiler alert: I am that mom.

I drove away from my first Jude-mom shoot with the heaviest of hearts. What should have been an hour of reveling in my relationship with Jude was instead turned into a headache because of my quest for perfection. Anyone looking at our photos would imagine we were blissfully happy, because that's the thing about photography. What's been captured is a millisecond. A moment. Not the whole truth.

Photographs are like time machines; they transport you back to what you were feeling and thinking and what happened before and after the moment. Those first images of us are bittersweet. They're beautiful, but I can still hear myself yapping at Jude to be who I wanted him to be.

I want photos of us to capture exactly who we are! The messy, the silly, the noisy, the grumpy, the whatever. All of it. Just give me realness. Years from now, I will savor the moment captured of Jude being exasperated by my kisses, or the squishing of each other's faces, or the tickle fights, or the way he sticks his butt out and makes fart noises all day. Because that's him. I will even savor the moment where I tugged on his arm too hard (because I still sometimes get too harsh in my desire for a smile), and we had to hug it out. Because that's us.

Now, Jude and I brainstorm together on what fun thing we should do for our photoshoot. Last year, my girl Blair captured us playing games at home and then throwing colored chalk at each other. It was RAD! This year, she followed us around while we hung out at our favorite coffee shop called Kettle Coffee. This place is like our second home. Then we finished out the session at home in our coziest clothes, where we sparked up a bonfire in the driveway complete with s'mores and spooky stories read once the sun had set.

Being mom to this crazy-pants kid is my favorite favorite favorite thing I've ever done. And this time for our photoshoot, I allowed myself to be present, to be in the moment, to let go, and to remember what matters most: love.