Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Picture Day

Its picture day and he's splashed water all down his front, straining tiptoe up to the drinking fountain, droplets dribbling down chin, a river forming all the way down to his belly button.

I'm not one for school pictures.  I don't plan to buy one.  Not even a yearbook.  I take millions of pictures on my own camera here at home, content to remember the less than perfect moments and leave the stresses of perfectly combed hair to other parents.

My second son is not the buttoned down, slicked hair type. On his face are 3 bug bites, a scratch and a bruise.  The bug bites from running outside at dusk.  The scratch and bruise from a "sword fight," which also, blessedly, took place outside.  If I were to take the "perfect" picture of him, it would involve a smudged face, black fingernails and probably the absence of pants.  Brown eyes that sparkle, too, even white teeth and those big lips from his Daddy's side of the family all done up in a big hearty grin.  That's my boy.

Even knowing all of this, who my child is, I too can feel that twinge when I see another mom with her perfectly manicured little guys all buttoned up, tucked in and shining bright.  Sometimes I might wish for a face that stays clean for more than a millisecond, or a shirt left unstained after an hour of play.

But there's something here, and I realize it this afternoon when I'm scrubbing a bit at the grass stain in his new-to-him khakis I bought last week second hand:  That maybe, for me, to parent this boy is to shed all outer expectations and learn to live down and dirty.

I once read an article about women and birth - how a woman who is perfectly sedate and worried about appearances can be hours from birth, whereas one who has shed all sense of propriety is ready to meet her baby.  How sometimes letting go of appearances is the first step to giving birth.  Life.

I know that life is all grace and to give life is to give grace.  To let go of appearances and wholly love.   To fully love this boy and how God made him to be - boisterous, joyful, physical, passionate and full immersed in life.  Instead of faulting him for not looking and acting in ways I understand, taking a moment or two to try and understand the way he was built to be - to appreciate the gifts that he's been given.

This road of parenting a boy so full of abundance in every area is rarely picture-perfect.  Giving up on appearances in favor of grace, I'm unlocking lavish love.
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  1. I'm a fan of your writing, Lydia, but parts of this really rubbed me the wrong way.
    "I take millions of pictures on my own camera here at home, content to remember the less than perfect moments and leave the stresses of perfectly combed hair to other parents." I understand, that it may not be worth it to you to have school pictures, and agree that you're totally entitled to your own opinion. However, I took this as a stab to parents who do actually care about school photos. What's the difference between school picture day or getting pictures taken at penny's or sears? For the most part, those photographs aren't marking any specific event, just to represent aging. Maybe it's just a difference between small and large schooling groups to reflect on people you meet there. However, I wouldn't consider it any more of a stressor than trying to get kids dressed and ready for Sunday Services or formal events.

    This in no way is to particularly degrade your post, just a perspective of how it could be taken. I too, take pictures outside of school photos, but like to capture both environments- both with imperfections.

  2. Thank you for your comment. It was never my intent to take a stab at parents who value posed photographs....in fact in the post I mentioned that I often long for that look. Its just that, with this particular child, I find it is best to embrace who he is - mess and all, than to try and make him something he is not. I apologize if this came across to anyone as judgmental. It was indeed not my intent.

  3. Lydia, I have a boy like this too. And I'm a neatnik. Just in the last week or two I've been feeling incredibly off-balance, if you will - I feel like I am spending so much time cleaning and laundering and tidying that even though I'm with my kids all day, I'm not enjoying them as I should be. And yet the house remains messy. I'm really struggling to find my balance, to know when to let go of my idea of how everything needs to look and deal with the fact that I have two little boys and a dog and will not have my house as clean as I'd like for many, many years. This post couldn't have been more timely, and it's something I'm going to reread every morning until it sinks in and I can get my groove back. Thank you so much.

  4. Thank you, Karis. I am pretty much a free spirit, but even so it can be discouraging to have so much undone. Sometimes I find myself longing for just one day - one day where the house is clean, the kids stay neat, the girls' hair looks good and I manage to wear the same shirt all day,unscathed...yep, I'm still waiting for that day.

  5. mmmmm Lydia! I had my own comment but FIRST I must respond to the first comment, so conveniently left by "Anonymous"

    1. IMHO... this post was NOT at ALL judgey (and TRUST me! I have had MY share of judgey so I think I would know it if I saw it)

    2. You responded BEAUTIFULLY to this comment.... with the same grace, poise and ELOQUENCE as you used in writing the post.

  6. mkay now for my REAL comment :)

    oh how I related to this post! I especially chuckled at "probably the absence of pants"... that is SO my house! my dear friend says, "Being naked is the birthright of all Kastner children."

    hee hee hee....

    Thank you so much for sharing


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