September 24 12

Sundays, typically, are formulaic around here. The formula = complete and total chaos. Whereas Saturdays tend to be more laid back and filled with seeing friends and sleeping in—at least a little bit—Sundays tend to be an up-and-at-’em, go-getter, daylight-wasted-is-gone-forever type of day. One of us is up early to run outside, and one of us is up early to do squats, burpees, and push-ups (because I am a crazy person, obviously). And then the chaos happens—birthday parties, grocery shopping, ice skating, hockey, Costco, playdates, coffee runs, Hebrew school, errand-running.

We have two cars going at once, to make certain that we accomplish everything.

Occasionally I try to squeeze some things in, knowing full well that it might be a mistake, might be pushing it too much.

Yesterday was one of those occasions.

“I really want to take pictures today. Of the three kids. For that spot above our couch. And, you know, for my office wall.”

Those spots had been begging, for the years, to be filled. The collage of black multi-sized frames that hangs above my Mac is filled with pictures of some other person’s kids—licking an ice cream, getting sandy on the beach, hugging her mama tightly—the ones who came with the frame. People who wander near my office do triple-takes and then realize that the little blond girl who loves the beach so much is not, in fact, Isabella, but a lovely little model who posed for someone else’s camera.

The last framed picture I have of my three children is from 2008 at the latest—Isabella was no more than three years old, still suffering from her baby baldness. It’s a beautiful picture, but it only takes one glance at it to see how much my children have changed, how Isabella has lost that last bit of chub, how Josh’s blond, fine hair has grown darker and more kid-like, how grown-up our preteen has become.

The walls are begging. And I fancy myself a little bit of a photographer. And yet.

Every time I try to shoot my family, it ends in tears.

Mine, usually. 

Other children? Easy peasy. I follow their cues, I get them to smile, to chat with me, to laugh at my dumb jokes. We try different positions and angles until I get what I’m looking for, that sweet spot where all of them are looking my way.

My children? Disaster. It’s too cold, I’m not comfortable, my sleeves are too long, I don’t want to touch her, she’s breathing too close to me, why do I have to stand here, can I go run around over there, are we done yet, are we done yet, are we done yet, ARE WE DONE YET? 

It never goes well, whenever I try. Mother’s Day? Disaster. My birthday? Disaster. Fall in the leaves? Nightmare.

It’s funny because it’s all I want—to fill that spot about the couch, to fill that spot in my office, to have shots to send to my mother, my father, my family. I honestly feel like I ask for very little from my children. Just this one thing.


Just like I could have predicted before we even started, before I drove out to the perfect photoshoot spot—complete with sprawling greenery, wooden fence, and running horses in the background—before I hauled out the camera, this one ended in tears. Of course. And not a single usable shot. I crawled into the van. Hurt, defeated, sad, angry, frustrated, spent, done.

And then came the blues. This complete and total overall rush of ick and shittiness.

I got home , threw on my comfiest sweats, and got into my bed with my giant coffee. I watched this past week’s Parenthood and half of Glee until I decided that I’m completely and total over Glee. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want anyone to talk to me. I couldn’t stop crying. I edited lovely pictures of other peoples’ children. I worked. I took a nap. I played Ticket to Ride on my phone.  I didn’t get up and get dressed again until 7:30, because we had dinner plans. Given the choice, though, I would have stayed in bed the rest of the night. It was really the only place I wanted to be.

I put on my big girl pants and went out, though, and had a lovely time. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t have known how I have spent my afternoon. You wouldn’t have known how blue-ish I felt. You may have suspected that something was up since I was drinking wine, which I never do, because I do not enjoy drinking wine. You may have suspected, but you couldn’t have known.

That’s the thing, right? You can’t ever know—just by looking at someone.

My life is so, so good right now.

But sometimes there are blueish moments. And you have just got the ride it out until the moments pass. Until you get a giant middle-of-the-night hug from Isabella. Until you get a text at dinner about Emily finally losing that tooth that has been bugging her for weeks. Until Josh wants to ask you a very important joke that’s surprisingly funny.

Until it’s over.

Until you wake up in the morning, ready to tackle what Monday has to offer.

Come at me Monday—you can’t knock me down. Not today. Not after yesterday. 

But as much as it pains me, I know that I have to put the camera down. And no longer try with them. But, you know, at least we have a Bat Mitzvah coming up and then maybe someone—someone who is not ME—will take a lovely picture of my three children. Because I know I never will.

  1. Awwww, Ali. I’m so sorry. That sounds like a really sucky Sunday (except for the laying in bed part). Maybe you need to hire someone else to take photos of your kids – you could do an exchange – their children for your children.

    Comment by Sharon on September 24, 2012
  2. You hit the nail on the head about bush moments in a good life.

    I believe you about the photos, but I don’t understand. You post great photos of your kids. Just not what you’re hoping for? It would be frustrating to have talent like you, but not be able to use it how you really want to use it.

    Comment by Heather on September 24, 2012
  3. It’s the three of the them together. One alone, or even two can work. But three? FORGET ABOUT IT.

    Comment by ali on September 24, 2012
  4. I wonder if that is a normal thing for other photographers. It seems to me it would be. Makes sense that your own family would be the toughest clients.

    I will make those three get you some decent photos in March. It will be my goal.

    And when you’re down and feeling blue, just think “First I walk into my powder…”


    Comment by Kristabella on September 24, 2012
  5. OMG. Best. Ever. BEST. I’m giggling my fool head off over here.

    I would guess it’s like this for parent photographers…for sure. Because it’s a different relationship…for all of us. I have different expectations and they have different reactions because I’m their mom. They were never behave like this for another photographer.

    Comment by ali on September 24, 2012
  6. Wait. What about this one?

    I was going to post a bunch of them individually, but after I pasted in ten links I realized I was posting your entire flickr stream. You have tons of great photos, my dear!

    I think sometimes kids get camera fatigue. Annie gets the same way. I have to settle for candids 95% of the time.

    Comment by Heather on September 24, 2012
  7. I think it’s MamaFatigue.


    It’s totally a thing.

    Comment by ali on September 24, 2012
  8. Aw, sorry you were blue, Ali. My kids will give me JUST ONE, so at least I get those.

    If I lived closer, I’d come take some for you. And you could take some of my monkeys. 🙂


    Comment by Angella on September 24, 2012
  9. Oooh. I like this idea.

    Comment by ali on September 24, 2012
  10. Boo. I hope today was better. What about asking one of your friends to take the pictures?

    Comment by Jenbug on September 24, 2012
  11. Today was a million times better. A million.

    Comment by ali on September 24, 2012
  12. […] talking about my Sunday photoshoot blues…and then discovering this in my […]

    Pingback by » Atoning Cheaper Than Therapy on September 25, 2012

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