Today was my annual play hooky from work day to go to the mall, beat the crowds, get our family Christmas pictures taken and take the kids to see Santa. Surprisingly, with an almost 4 year old and a 21 month old, the day went pretty smoothly. We made it to the mall with about 10 minutes to spare before our appointment at the picture studio, and the kids were at a great age this year to really take direction well and produce some cute pictures. The studio we use is Portrait Simple and I LOVE them! They are easy to work with, and you leave with all of your pictures that same day.
So, after our family picture session we took the kids to Build-A-Bear workshop and then had a nice family lunch to kill some time before Santa arrived. We only had to stand in line for about a half an hour before Santa arrived, and then it was time to plop the kids onto the strange man's lap. (A bit of a digression here, but we teach our kids to be afraid of strangers, and then we wonder why they freak out and cry when we try to plunk them down in some strange man's lap? Hmm.....strange.) My four year old son did well- even though we couldn't get him to smile for the picture. However, my 21 month old daughter- who isn't so fond of strangers, men especially, to begin with- would not stay seated! So, the picture we have is of her airborne as she's jumping off of Santa's couch.
The "elf" taking the picture asked me if I wanted to try for another picture but I just laughed and said, "No- It's a memory" and chuckled as I paid for my $20 dollar pictures of my daughter crying and leaping away from Santa as my son sat oblivious on his lap.
So, my piece of mommy advice to take away from this? I've shook in line in year's past and watched mothers try to talk their kids into smiling, or make the "elves" take picture after picture until it's perfect, and all I want to say is: "It's a memory!" The pictures of our kids screaming, or trying to get off of Santa's lap, or jumping off of the couch are the pictures that we are going to look back on years from now and laugh about. It is hard, especially now in a culture where I feel like we all need to be perfect mommies with perfect families, to accept that our kids have breakdowns sometimes (even on camera) or that after 4+ hours at the mall we are all getting to the end of our fuze. Yet, when we can accept that picture-perfect isn't always best, it makes for a less frustrating and more fun family day out that creates memories to talk about for years to come. Try not to sweat the small stuff mommies! Live in the moment, accept that our kids aren't going to do what we want them to most of the time, and that they are going to embarrass us in public and laugh about it! After all, I'm sure we are just receiving some karmic payback for something that we did to our parents at the mall during a holiday season in years past.
I did a search online for "funny kids with Santa photos" and found some great examples of terribly funny pictures (like the one posted below). Take some time to search for these and as you chuckle through them, just think about all of the great family conversations that will happen every time these photos are brought out.
Here's to a less stressful holiday season!
Thanks for reading!