Lucy and Will’s answer…a resounding YES.
The day started with Lucy in a funk because she didn’t want to wear the personalized Valentine’s shirt that I had made for her. Apparently, it was too “red-y and pink-y and heart-y and Lucy-y.” Never mind that she picked out the pattern. Or, that she thought it was the best shirt ever just the day before.
I had purchased a new “My First Valentine” bib for Will too. Which he kept trying (and succeeding) to pull off of his neck, so he could better puke on his pants.
After a speedy outfit change for Will, I replaced his now damp bib and corralled him on the couch. I glanced at the clock, noticing that we would have to leave soon to meet my parents at the mall for our planned Valentine’s Day outing.
“Hey, Lucy,” I called. “Jump on over here so I can take a quick photo of you too.”
She responded by crossing her arms over the offensive shirt. “NO, MOMMY,” she cried. “No pictures! No! NO!”
With one hand precariously grasping Will’s leg and the other holding my camera, I swiveled my head to look at her. Narrowing my eyes and clenching my teeth, I said, “Just get over here, sit next to your brother, and let me do this. We haven’t got all day.”
I was beginning to sweat, literally “losing my cool.” This was not at all going how I planned, and I was getting irritated. Seriously, why was it so hard to take one freaking picture? Why couldn’t she just sit on the couch – and Will stay upright – for the ONE SECOND I needed to snap it?
Instead, Lucy ramped up the crying, escalating into a full-blown tantrum. Joining in on the antics, Will pitched his bib over the side of the couch and tried to fling himself after it. Frustrated and exasperated, I put down the camera and gave up.
Tossing the camera into the diaper bag and grabbing my car keys, I hustled them both into the garage. As I buckled them into their car seats, I exclaimed, “All I wanted was one lousy picture. But who cares what I want!” I threw myself into the driver’s seat and bellowed, “You two are acting HORRIBLY! You better be on your BEST behavior at the mall because VALENTINE’S DAY IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!”
The car was silent; my words hung ominously in the air. I took a deep breath and thought about how ridiculous they sounded. I had allowed myself to spiral out of control – and for what? I was ruining their Valentine’s Day by trying to memorialize it.
I looked in the rearview mirror to see Lucy and Will staring back at me, their little faces pink from exertion and stained with tears. My heart broke. That’s not the picture of them that I wanted, but it was what I had created.
The thing is, pictures of my kids are very important to me. I am driven to capture every milestone – and every mock holiday in between – because I know how fast childhood passes and how unreliable memory can be. This feeling is intensified exponentially by the fact that pictures are all I have left of my firstborn son, Andy, who died in 2009.
But Andy’s story isn’t the same as his siblings. And, my issues shouldn’t wreck their day.
I turned around in my seat to face them and said, “I’m sorry, guys. I just wanted a picture of you because I love you so much, and I wanted to remember this Valentine’s Day. It was silly of me to get mad. I promise to be on my best behavior at the mall too. Think we can have some fun together?”
“I love you too, Mommy,” Lucy said. “It’s okay. And I kinda like this shirt you gave me. Can we go on the carousel?”
“Of course,” I responded. “Whatever makes you happy.”
With that settled, Will sighed and stuck his pacifier in his mouth. I started the car.
A few minutes later, we arrived at the mall and were met by my parents at the food court. They ordered a pizza for lunch, Lucy’s favorite. As we waited, she was all smiles, and Will was cooing contentedly from his stroller. Lucy looked at me and said, “Mommy, maybe you can take a picture of me and my brother now?”
I pulled the camera out of my bag and snapped these: