My house is a mess. I’m not sure about being photographed there.

There was a cigarette burn in the backseat of my mom’s ’82 coupe, and I have comforting memories running my fingers through it. Of course at the time I had no idea it was from a cigarette, but as an adult now I’m *pretty* sure my mom wasn’t too excited about having it there.

A couple of years ago I had scheduled a family photo session in our home but had nerves leading up to it, because we hadn’t yet gotten around to renovating the yellowed 80’s kitchen in our home. I was investing in the photos and wanted everything to be perfect, including my ugly kitchen.

I’m pretty sure that kitchen was my own cigarette burn.

But we did it, and here’s what I learned: The session WAS perfect, ugly kitchen and all. Because my kids cared as much about the imperfection of the kitchen as I did about that cigarette burn. It just was and is. My kids are HAPPY, and so am I, and that’s all that I want them to remember from their childhood. Because they are very much loved.

mom cleans out injury / boo boo with child in kitchen sink, while little girl hands up bandaids

I spend 80% of my life at home. That’s where most of my memories are! I’m pretty sure all my kids’ memories are here, at Target, or at the park.

As photographs preserve our memories, why WOULDN’T we be photographed right here, where our memories are? 

I understand the universal kitchen dilemma. “But we still haven’t gotten around to decorating the kids’ bedrooms…” and so on and so on. It’s easy to get lost in these doubts, and in this HGTV society, it’s hard not to compare our living spaces with what we see online. I can spend hours in Home Goods or Anthropologie, too (dreaming, really, because if I’m honest with myself I’d rather save those $$ for a wild trip to Cuba).

Which is why it’s ESPECIALLY important to share what’s REAL. To help reset societal expectations of what normal day-to-day family life looks like. To stay grounded. And to acknowledge to ourselves that sure, my kitchen is ugly right now but that’s not important. My kids need me! We’ll get around to the kitchen.

Our every action sends messages to our kids about what we value. Bribe them to perform for formal portraits, and consider the message that they receive. Instead, let them be free in their natural habitat and the pictures shout from the rooftops, “You are loved, exactly as you are!”

toddler plays with baby doll, sitting on the floor of a messy play room

It stresses me out when my house feels cluttered. Not because I care what OTHERS think, but just because my calm gets overrun with the anxiety of clutter. I don’t WANT a messy house.

My mom’s house is super neat. She gets as stressed about clutter as I do, but she doesn’t have kids around to build it up. Though I very much love the way her home feels, I can’t help but also see that her kids are grown and gone and the house is super quiet. THAT makes me way sadder. The clutter comes with the kids. Truth is, I’d rather have a messy house full of kids than a clean, empty one.

If I could stop time, messy house and lack of sleep and all, I would. Just to savor it for a bit.

baby cries on bed while boy plays next to him, ignoring him

Remember, these photos are for you and for your kids, not the Joneses.

Let’s talk about preserving YOUR memories.

 

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