A Chicago mom’s love/hate relationship with family portraits

Some holiday traditions include hot cocoa, twinkle lights and reciting ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Other holiday traditions include Spanx, sweating profusely, dress shoes, new clothes and reciting:

“Listen to me this minute! When Mommy gets you dressed and combs your hair and puts your shoes on, you WILL sit on this couch and watch a show and not jump, eat, run, drink anything, play, touch each other, touch your hair or move a SINGLE muscle until Mommy is done fixing her hair. If you disobey, there will be no chocolate milk again for the rest of the month. Do you understand!?!?”

You see, I kind of have a love/hate relationship with family portraits.

Every year, it is the same routine: I book the appointment, try to have coordinating yet not too matchy-matchy outfits, bathe, dress and primp the children. Then, I must bathe, dress, primp and Spanx myself. Next, I make sure my husband helps me pack snacks, drinks, toys and bribe treats for the children. Then, we head to the shoot, sweating, but at least ready for the photographer.

My husband and I spend the next hour saying things like: “Mommy brought Kit Kats!” and “How about one more smile and then we can play iPad when we get home?” or “If you hold really still and not touch your hair, we will build Lego towers.” and “Come here, and I promise we can go on the swings!”

When we get home, the kids put on comfy clothes. I deSpanx. My husband starts the hot cocoa. Then, we make good on the bribe promises we made to the children. We play Legos, go on swings and let them eat Kit Kats and play iPad to their hearts’ content.

Every year after family photo day is over, I collapse in my bed and as my eyes close and I drift off to sleep I make the same promise to myself that I will not do it again. I hate all this silliness just take some lousy pictures. The work, the sweating, the Spanx, the bribe treats and the trying to get my children to stay clean all at the same time for more than two hours is more than I can handle. I tell myself that I will just use an iPhone photo and call it a day.

Then, the photos arrive.

Just like labor and delivery, I quickly forget the pain and anguish that family portrait day brings when I see how beautiful the photos turn out.

It doesn’t matter the photographer, location or what we are wearing. It just matters we are together and smiling. And while I have taken thousands of photos of the kids myself, I am so grateful to have photos that capture all of us together. My husband and I hardly ever get to be on the other side of the lens and these photos are just a wonderful reminder of how blessed we are to have created this family of ours.

That’s when I fall in love with family portrait day all over again.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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