We went to the beach this summer and took a great family photo. I mean, look at it. We’re positioned perfectly. Everyone is smiling. My hair is down. My babies are adorable sugar sacks. The beach looks warm and inviting. Even the dog’s got that Clooney-on-Lake-Como Smolder:
It would be SO tempting to slap this family photo on Instagram with the caption: “End of an amazing summer with this crazy bunch. Can’t wait for Fall!” or “Love spending time with this crazy bunch after my morning sprint workout!” or “This crazy bunch definitely, 100%, absolutely brushes their teeth every single day. For sure!” But alas, I cannot give my wonderful friends the social media equivalent of a toned and tanned middle finger. So, here is the behind-the-scenes story of a photo of this crazy f’ing bunch.
Another adult was involved. My mother-in-law kindly took this photo. In fact, she was with us for the full duration of our beach vacation, which took place at her house. People with a toddler and a newborn don’t casually peruse the internet for gorgeous beach rentals, spend money on the perfect one, book the travel, sign the paperwork, participate in a week’s worth of beach activities, and then swing a photo like this on their last day. Instead, you do as we do: Find the closest relative with a house that isn’t yours, text them “WE COME NOW,” dump all your sweaty creatures out of your car onto their front lawn, fill their counter space with breast pump parts, consume all their food and booze, and make them take your toddler to the aquarium (preferably forever). For us, having another adult in the house kept the chaos at a beautiful, peaceful Category 4. Additionally, another adult enabled my husband and I to go out at night, which definitely jumpstarted our will to live. Only under these circumstances can a photo like this even be a remote possibility.
This was the only one. This was the only photo out of about 35 that turned out decently. The other 34 were NSFW.
My people are photo people. If you’ve spent more than five minutes with my family, you’ve probably had a camera lens in your face (then, five days later, a professionally edited and printed version of that photo in your mailbox). My entire childhood is meticulously chronicled by year/month/day and all its corresponding milestones. My first day with braces can only be described as “Annie Leibovitz Vanity Fair editorial spread.” I learned early on that in order to get the photos you want, you must plan, bully the necessary parties, and bulldoze through the protestations of toddlers, grumpy husbands, and irritable teenagers. In the case of this photo, one must sit down on the broken, jagged piece of wood because the light is better in that spot (sorry, doggie). And always bring the big camera, even though it is the most cumbersome thing in the carry-on. Without that engrained in me, this photo would never have happened.
Take a closer look. I’m leaning on the dog, like, a lot. I am seconds away from falling asleep on top of him because I am really, really, really tired. I don’t remember, but I’m assuming I mistook him for a pillow. Either that, or we’re engaged:
Also, my husband’s gaze isn’t quite right. He has remarked that this was his “goofy look” for the camera, but I’m not so sure. Those eyes tell a story. A deep, distressing story about witnessing a 10+ pound baby enter this world the “natural way,” or cleaning up a toddler’s room after she has flung a dirty diaper put of her crib. They’re eyes that can’t unsee, but they were open for the photo, so I consider this a win.
Bottom line: All special moments should be commemorated with a great photo. But understand that behind every “crazy bunch” is a group of people who are truly messed up in the head. And there’s no one else I’d rather do Whole 30 with! LOL!