We have a family portrait that reveals the strong bonds between each of our five members. This photograph shows the world our smiling faces and exudes love and warmth. We get a lot of compliments on that picture!
But oh, how a picture can lie!
As I look up at our laughing faces, I smile, because I remember the realities surrounding that photo session. First, there was the scramble to find the ‘right’ clothes. This ended in heaps of sweaters strewn over the bedroom floors. Then there was the hair catastrophes! I cannot get a picture taken like THIS! screamed a teen girl at no one in particular. Sisters yelling at a brother to get out of the bathroom and a brother (with autism) trying to self regulate through the upheaval.
To add flavor to the moment, we thought it was a great idea to include the family dog; a large Golden Retriever whose fur we were covered with by the time we got to the studio. The decision about what to do with the dog led to a spousal dispute which ended with a slammed van door, some inappropriate words and a dog keeing an angry husband company while he cooled off.
I could go on …but I am quite sure you recognize the scene. Or, perhaps, I am the only one who has wanted to throw the camera at the photographer as soon as he smugly says, ‘Is everyone ready to have fun?’
Hell, NO! I just want to crawl into a hole and be ALONE.
It the end, we did have fun. We laughed at the craziness and we giggled at the fact that the dog had enjoyed the entire bag of treats while she waited in the van for her turn to shine.
Let’s face it. Family love is crazy love. Sometimes there are glimpeses of complete serene, emotional warmth (most often when I watch the kids sleep). But, most often love is the choice to just keep on keeping on. Genuine love has little to do with emotions. It is a commitment to keep loving someone even when you donât particularly like the person.
I think it is safe to say that we should not be judging othersâ lives by their pictures or the ‘outside’ face they wear. We all have challenges in our relationships and comparing our own lives with someone else can lead to misguided perceptions.
Love is a choice. Love is allowing yourself to be vulnerable and to put the needs of another before your own. Love is cleaning wet sheets for the third time in one night. Love is answering the same question for the 16th time. Love is waiting in the car so you don’t say anything you will regret. Love is deciding that it is time to let go of the anger and just laugh at the mess.
It IS NOT a picture perfect portrait of a perfectly loving family.
But, it is a portrait of a family making the daily choices to love each other…even when we don’t really like each other!