What the lens isn’t telling you

Every October our little family heads out to a local farm to partake in a day of fall fun, and last weekend marked our annual trek to the pumpkin patch where we hit all the usual favorites – the barns, the obstacle course constructed from hay bales, the corn maze, the tire swing. . . We were together, doing together type things and the following image was captured of our 4-year-old:


You can see it was a gorgeous day, lots of people out to enjoy it, and there’s our sweet girl swinging away without a care. . . And it would be easy and convenient to post the photo and end the story there with a ‘what a fun family day at the farm!’ sentiment. I’d probably come off as a much better parent, if I just. stopped. typing. now. But alas, what’s the world wide web for if not to air our failures for public mocking?

Back to the photo… Beyond all the tenderness the scene speaks of, you may have also picked up on the storyline Emma’s young face is revealing- her half smirk, those mischievous eyes… All should have served as my warning signs by the way- signals to wrap this trip up and make it snappy! What you don’t see is that darling girl shortly thereafter becoming defiant and disobedient and consequently being punished by having to leave the festivities behind for the LONG (and LOUD, I may add) wagon ride back to the car. The photo gives not a hint of the weariness and embarrassment of two parents struggling to navigate this journey of raising mini-people with no practical atlas to reference. And that one image in time doesn’t tell you how here it is days later and I feel the weight of the experience still fresh on my shoulders. But the thing is I still love this photograph, I am still utterly head-over-heels in LOVE with my daughter, and I still love the pumpkin farm (although my ego suggests maybe we visit a new, more anonymous location next year).

So what’s my point? Well, if you have spent more than 15 seconds on this site you are likely clued into the fact, I’m a story girl – I love ’em and cherish the characters and moments that go into creating a them. But this experience has me asking what about all the untold stories taking place outside of the shutter’s click – the ones most of us would prefer to keep hidden behind our big front doors and brick facades? How honest are the stories we present to the world – do they represent our lives at all or do they represent a snapshot version of what someone else says our truth should resemble? It also has me asking: Why is being a parent SO hard? And how can I be SO unequipped for this job? But that is another post- or volume of posts- for another time.

Isn’t it exhausting and just plain silly how we’re all walking around trying to convince each other that we are okay, when reality is, we’re all one big tragically gorgeous mess? I would never wish more public family showdowns on myself, but I am beginning to understand those types of experiences are refining me and my story to a more authentic place. So as the sting from last weekend’s humiliation has faded, another layer of my “I have got it together” facade has also fallen away and that is more than okay by me.

October 29, 2009 - 7:54 pm

Jen Ambrose Oh, sweets. I hear you. I so hear you. I so don’t know what I’m doing and am so lost on like a daily basis. I so get that.

October 30, 2009 - 5:55 am

Jennifer Bailey Oh, Sarah-you have such an artistic eye, and talent for capturing the moment in your photographs!
They are beautiful!
And, I sure hear and empathize with your orchard visit story. :)I got to do the carrying-out-kicking-screaming-causing-a-scene thing at the Zoo and at Big Boy!
Our boys right now seem to melt us down every day in some way or another-they are so strong willed, and it is so humbling to see our own selfishness and impatience as we learn to parent them!
Joe is doing photography, too-I will have him check out your website and here is his: jbaileyphotography.net
Maybe you guys can talk shop!
Love, Jenny

November 2, 2009 - 8:51 am

Jenn dePaula Oh how I love stories behind the pictures like this 😉 The joys of motherhood, that’s for sure! About a year ago I was at the store and saw a little boy who was obviously driving his mother crazy. As I walked past them and she said, “If you don’t settle down you are going to get it!” To which he said, “But I can embarrass you!” Ohhhh boy.

November 2, 2009 - 2:59 pm

sarahrichmond I love that I have three comments from three lovely Jennifers! Thanks for sharing your stories – it really is funny. . . when it’s not your kid.

November 3, 2009 - 10:28 am

Stephanie Wiederhold Hello, Sarah: I love this post … love your honesty and humility. It is a lovely picture of Emma. I always enjoy hearing Emma and Asher stories from your mom :) Love, Steph

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