It’s the small things that stress me out. That’s not totally true, because the small things would be small if it was just me in this boat, but when you add four kids and a hubby, the small things rapidly morph into steep and craggy mountains.
Take, for example, family pictures.
This evening at six o’clock we were supposed to get our family picture taken for our church photo directory. How hard can that be? Go to church, sit down, smile, leave. We don’t pay money, and we even get a free picture.
But it’s not that easy. Here’s a little insight into what Taking A Family Picture actually means for us:
A. Pick out clothing for the entire family. Clothes have to match, not just on one person but with everyone else’s, and we shouldn’t wear stripes or bold patterns. White clothes make you look fat while black clothes slim you down. Adults have to wear long sleeves (so say the professionals from the studio). Black, long-sleeves in August. Right. Makes me start to sweat just thinking about it.
B. Prepare an early supper. Start cooking in the mid-afternoon so we can eat at about 4:30.
C. Mr. Handsome has to come home early to help out and get ready. We lose a little money (we shouldn’t think like that but we do). Stress levels rise. Mr. Handsome starts getting grumpy.
D. Bathe the children, wash and comb hair, but do not get dressed in the pre-picked out, non-stripy-nor-boldly-colored clothes because we need to…
E. Eat supper. There is no time to wash the dishes, so pile them in the sink. I hate leaving a messy kitchen. Now I’m officially grumpy.
F. Herd everyone back to the bathroom to brush teeth and get dressed.
G. Do not allow any children to escape outside. This makes the children grumpy, so they start bickering. This makes the parents mad.
H. At 5:30, load everyone into the car. However, it’s now 5:36 and we are officially late. Parents are now grumpy, mad, and panicked. Don’t let the children scrape against the side of the car. Don’t let Miss Becca Boo pick up the cat because it has been killing mice and may have blood and guts on its paws and those things could soil her clothes.
I. Drive to church, keeping one hand behind you at all times to pin The Baby Nickel’s leg to the seat in order to prevent him from kicking, and dirtying, Yo-Yo Boy’s clothing. Yell a lot.
J. Arrive at church three minutes early (it should’ve been ten minutes early) and run to the bathroom to wipe off the sweat that is beading your brow. Straighten collars (times six). Comb hair, again (times six).
K. Sit down. Look natural and relaxed. Hiss at the kids to stand up straight, put your hands down, don’t poke your sister/brother/me. Smile. Come on, people, SMILE.
The end result? A family picture of us looking hot and bothered and stiff, with little blue lines running diagonally in the background.
I thought through this scenario numerous times, in a valiant effort to make it more palatable, but I eventually gave up. First thing this morning, I emailed the church secretary: Hi S, We need to cancel our picture-taking slot tonight—at 6:00. I hope this doesn’t cause too many problems. We won’t be excommunicated or anything, will we? My brother will be taking our family picture this weekend and I’ll get that photo to you soon.
Balding Brother, dear—could you please do a little photo shoot of us this weekend? We’ll probably end up with something like these family pictures that my mother took about four years ago (we don’t take family pictures that often).
The picture that I will eventually turn in to the church secretary will be relegated to the back of the book after all the other pictures of the sainted people in our congregation who bucked up and suffered in silence. The back of the book is the place for wimps and mavericks.
That’s okay, though. I’m looking forward to a calm evening, wearing shorts with running stripes, a sleeveless, spandex top, and no shoes or make-up. Being a wimp isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, in this case it actually makes me smile.