Why I take that “perfect picture” of my kids some days
Several weeks ago our family decided to spend the beautiful weather fishing. We were able to use our grandparent’s fishing boat, so the five of us set off for quite the adventure. Yes, yes, you heard that right- a 4 year-old, a 2 year old, an 8 month old- and two tired parents. On a boat. Surrounded by water. During naptime. (Cue dooming musical sound effect)
The baby screamed and squirmed basically the whole time and needed constant attention. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to get snacks and drinks to the older two, keeping them from stepping on poles and hooks, adjusting life jackets, more snacks, more drinks, cleaning off hands from touching wormies, and navigating hooks flying everywhere.
Our two year old decided he did not appreciate mommy being busy with the baby and proceeded to cry the entire time. There was about 7 glorious minutes of silence, where my 2 year old son pleasantly played with his fishing pole in the water. Seven sweet minutes that ended abruptly as said fishing pole decided it would like a new home in the bottom of the lake. Sigh. The time was rounded out with our boat floating away, cold wet jeans for my husband, and not one fish to be claimed as a prize.
We took this picture.
And I saw my beautiful daughter- smiling like she was having the time of her life. I saw a young girl with an emerging personality enjoying the feeling of wind in her hair and a fishing pole beside her. I saw a little girl and not a toddler. I saw an experience she’d take with her- one she probably wouldn’t remember, but one that would- like a small building block in a great tower- work to build her into the person she will become.
We live in a world of pictures. They are crowding in for our attention. They shout loudly about purpose, worth, and validation. Oftentimes they portray only the good, and shut out the bad and the real. Living only in that kind of lie is so harmful- to others and ourselves. But can I be honest with you as to the reason I sometimes take that picture amidst the mayhem? Why some days, those are the pictures that are the most dear, the most needed, despite the reality of what that day may have held?
If I’m honest, some days it’s hard to remember the good when the hard takes over my mind.
If I’m honest, some days it’s hard to remember the good when the hard takes over my mind. Sometimes when I think about a camping trip, a family trip by car, or even just a visit to the park- my mind starts to think about all the difficulties. “Oh , they are just going to be grumpy the whole time. We’ll have to stop every five minutes. Nap time is going to be ruined. Last time (fill in the blank with your biggest catastrophe) happened.” And so on and so forth. Before you know it I’m likely to just choose the easy and forget that despite the crazy- many tiny, but beautiful things are happening.
This isn’t really a new concept. The people of Israel were constantly forgetting the good that God had done for them, instead they chose to focus on the negative and the difficult (Ex.16, Num 11, Num 13,14). Remembering the good is something we must willingly choose to do, especially when faced with difficulty. “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” the Psalmist proclaims through his despair in Psalm 77:11.
It’s easy to forget, but God is doing an amazing wonder in these simple days. These kids are constantly soaking in the world around them. Even amidst the 800 things you had to pack for that one hour at the zoo, the afternoon whining, and the 7 bathroom trips you had to take while trying to eat lunch with a friend- these kids are learning. Learning to be friends, learning to enjoy, learning to be curious, learning to plan, learning to wait, and learning to wonder.
So, sometimes I need those picture perfect moments. I really need those reminders. Not because I want to pretend everything is easy, but because when it is incredibly hard- I need to know why I’m doing it. I need to be reminded of the great wonder God’s doing underneath all the mayhem. Because boy it’s beautiful, and if I’m not careful, I’ll get too caught up on the easy and miss out on the amazing.