My family just loves it when I say I’d like to get a family photo. They love it. Or really not very much at all. Taking family photos can be a ridiculous event (Amen?).
What’s even more ridiculous is believing the family photo. You know, we believe that the photo represents how this family is all the time. Of course, we don’t do that with our own family photos. We know the drama, the deals and the doughnuts that went on behind the scene for our picturesque family photo. For some reason, though, we don’t remember that when we see other picturesque family photos.
We, too often, start comparing.
We doubt the possibility… nay, the likelihood… that the family photo before us took some effort too and that it is maybe not indicative of their entire family life 24/7. These details can start a snowball effect that I believe can lead to some serious heartache and discontent. It actually filters to other areas of our life, including our homeschool, usually leaving grace behind. Grace should never be left behind.
Sound strange that family photos can do that? Well, think about what often happens when we see a family photo on the cover of a homeschooling magazine/site and then we read the corresponding article. Little thoughts start to crawl through our mind like ants joining a picnic.
“Their kids look so sweet. It takes an act of Congress to get my kids to all look like that at the same time. Something must be wrong with my children.”
“Wow, they seem like they have it all together. I need to do whatever it is they are doing.”
“Their day sounds like a dream. We have days like that once a semester. Or year. I should find out what system they use.”
Then these wonderful family photos can lead to the big daddy of destructive thoughts: “I wish my family was like that.”
I’ve been there. Seriously. Family photo shoots came to represent waaaay too much to me, then God started working on my heart. He reminded me that my family is special, not in the Church Lady kind of way thankyouverymuch, but in the uniquely made from God way. He reminded me that our homeschool is special too. He reminded me that while everyone can improve, no one is perfect, no matter what the family photo looks like.
He called me to give grace to my family. Grace to be how we are instead of how some kind of homeschool media thinks the picturesque homeschooling family should be, including our family photo.
The blend of personalities, preferences and peculiarities is intentional in our family and homeschool, not a mistake. Instead of wishing my family and homeschool was like ____(insert any other family’s name here)____, I should be making the most of our special homeschooling blend and drinking it in like a cool drink of ice tea (or warm coffee, if that’s your thing).
I challenge us to embrace how our family is wired… quirks, perks and smirks… and stop comparing our family to others.
In an effort to embrace our family’s tone, I’ve stopped planning dressed up, sweetly posed family photos. Getting dressed up and being asked to behave in a manner that matches the attire made for not so fun family memories and set a false image in my brain. I needed to embrace the truth that casual and silly is a perfectly okay kind of family to be. Our best family photos are silly ones or ones taken in our every day clothes about to be silly.
When I see these photos, I don’t think, “Oh, look. Maybe someone will think we are a lovely magazine cover kind of family.” I think, “That’s my family. I sure love them.”
When I see someone else’s family photo now, I accept it for what it is: a moment caught in time. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The picturesque homeschooling family is the one in your home.
Are you embracing your family and your picturesque-ness? I hope so. Grace is a beautiful thing.
Mindy has been homeschooling for thirteen years and currently has five students in her family’s homeschool, ranging from a sophomore to a kindergartner, with a delightful three year old distraction. She loves chocolate covered almonds, her amazing husband, sharing her faith, challenging others to walk in grace and blogging, though not necessarily in that order. You can find her at Grateful for Grace.