A Picture-Imperfect Family

Because my children grow and change so quickly, I have made it a point to take yearly family photos. The most recent session was our first with three children. The experience was far from picture-perfect.
It felt as though our children had conspired the night before, devising a plan to ensure that the day erupted in chaos.
Our oldest decided about five minutes in that she was done taking pictures. She hid under a tree and sobbed when we tried to get her to come out.
Our toddler son took any opportunity his feet were on the ground to run away. Our attempts to bribe him with snacks made for several pictures where his mouth is open, mid-chew.
Our infant daughter wasn’t old enough to be coaxed into smiling yet. The constant poking and prodding from her siblings led to a disgruntled face most of the day.
Bless our wonderful photographer and her infinite patience, because she used every trick in the book and got some amazing individual shots of my kids. But when we tried to pose together, it was a recipe for failure.
I lost my cool as I shouted: “Mommy just wants pictures so in her old age she can remember how cute and sweet you all were!”
As we looked through the proofs, my husband laughed out loud. He was so happy the photos included the “fails” because those were the honest ones. And he was right.
The pictures reflect the true state of our lives. Things are crazy. At least one of my kids is always yelling, crying, running, not paying attention, getting dirty or getting annoyed with the other two.
I do like the photos where we are all smiling, cuddled up together on a park bench. But 2017 wasn’t the year of harmony. It was the year we were learning how to be family of five, and it was messy.
I think one day I will be grateful for those photos and the reminder of how rowdy my little crew used to be.
What a sweet picture of this lovely nature child.
Reality: She refused to come out from under that tree.

How's that fruit snack, Ezra? It must be good, because you won't stop staring at it.

Gwen's first wet willy. So glad we could commemorate that milestone.

Party of Five

Veteran parents with large families told me that going from one to two children was the hardest transition. But going from two to three would be no big deal.
A month in to life with my third baby and I can confidently announce – Those other parents are liars.
Parenting three kids isn’t exactly a whole new ball game.
It’s the same ball game, but your teammates are rowdy, screaming children, the rules keep changing and no one has a clean uniform because you can’t keep up with the laundry.
Friends and acquaintances ask me how it’s going.
I used to just smile and say “it’s good!” because I was too sleep-deprived to elaborate.
But I realize that is doing a disservice to any parent who might be considering having a third child.
Instead, now I answer bluntly: Life is a circus. It’s insane. Things are way harder than they were a few short months ago. Life with two was a cakewalk compared to this.
I recently made a trip to the grocery store with all three children. “How bad can it be?” I naively thought to myself.
We hadn’t even made it into the store before I had a fussy baby, a toddler sprawled out on the pavement mid-tantrum and a 6-year-old asking me if her brother’s behavior affected her chances of getting a treat in the store.
Oh, and someone in a car sat waiting for that parking spot my toddler was having a meltdown in. Move along, buddy. This may take a while.
I don’t say these things to scare anyone. I am not saying things are bad.
Chaos reigns in our home most days, but I’m not mad about it.
It’s just a new dynamic. My family is learning how to navigate this new normal.
It’s a messy, noisy road we are now on with three kids in the car (which is littered with crushed Goldfish crackers and broken crayon bits.)
But we are finding our rhythm and making sense of it all, one step at a time.
PJ's all day = less laundry for mama.