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Perfect Just the Way They Are

For more years than I care to admit, I’ve put off having my boys’ portraits taken professionally.

You see, they were never on the same haircut schedule. One was always shaggier than the other.

We never quite had the right outfits. And, quite honestly, I didn’t want to listen to them bitch and moan about having to wear khakis.

So, since *ahem* 2003, the same portrait of my boys has graced the shelf in my office.

They were seven and four.

Yep. Not at all the people they are today.

And yet, I just procrastinated year after year after year.

[Enter my bestie....]

Every year, my best friend takes my boys Christmas shopping to get their gifts for me. It’s their tradition and they swear that they’re going to do it even into adulthood.

We’ll see.

But, nevertheless, this year she picked the boys up and took them shopping one Saturday morning in December.

They completed their shopping.

They had lunch.

Later, we met at the school where Thing Two was scheduled to play a basketball game that afternoon.

Before the game as we were handing off responsibility for supervision of the children, my bestie handed me a large cardboard envelope.  You know, the kind portraits come in.

And my first reaction(s)?

If this is what I think it is…

  • Holy crap! I don’t even know if Thing One brushed his teeth, and Thing Two is seriously overdue for a haircut. 
  • Holy crap! Did anyone think to have Thing Two clean his eternally filthy glasses?
  • Holy crap! What the HELL were they wearing when they left the house????

But I took a deep breath and opened the envelope to see:

teenagers

and…

and…

Plus these two…

and…

And I cried.

I was so touched. So grateful.

Then, the story came out that they had conspired to plan this day for months.

They explained that they had other poses in dressier clothes, in more traditional settings, but that when the time came to purchase portraits for me, they didn’t like any of those.

They liked the shots that showed them as they are: Nirvana t-shirt, Laplander hat, long hair, messiness, and love.

And I quite agree.

What do you think? Here’s the alternative:

The shots where their true personalities were captured are so much better, aren’t they?

Crazy thing is that if I had been the one to take them, I’d have striven for perfection. New haircuts. Nice clothes. Fake smiles.

And not been one bit happy with the results.

The pictures I have of them now show them as they are every single day.

Pretty sure that is how I want to remember them when they’re grown and have moved away.

Not some gussied up version of themselves.

The genuine, imperfect, lovable amazing kids that they are.

Because they are enough.

And as a heartfelt side note, I want to share that Thing One (who likes to present to the world a persona of “I don’t give a sh*t”) was reported to have said, “Someday, Thing Two, she won’t see us every day. This is important,” in response to Thing Two’s whining that they were taking way too many pictures because “she sees us everyday” and that he was tired of it.

Bravo, Thing One.

Glad you hung in there, Thing Two.

Thank you, Bestie.

I love you all.

Want to be part of the JustBeEnough.com movement? Link up each Monday with your story of how you are enough and feel the warm embrace and accepting support of the Just Be Enough community. You won’t regret it.

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{ 54 comments… add one }

  • mommaz January 9, 2012, 8:20 am

    Even though I knew where this was going, I still cried reading it. With big smiles of course. :) Great pictures! Love the way you think.

    • RChicken January 9, 2012, 9:13 pm

      Thanks,MommaZ. So glad you were there to see the pictures that day :)

  • Missy | Literal Mom January 9, 2012, 9:20 am

    Ohhhh, your heartfelt side note just made me cry! What a good boy you’re raising. And I LOVE the pics they chose. Just perfect. Thanks for linking up with JBE today!
    Missy | Literal Mom recently posted..Organizing Your Busy Week in 4 Easy Steps – Come See Me at SITS

    • RChicken January 9, 2012, 9:12 pm

      My JBE links each week are often my favorite post. It’s just such a great message — Enough.

  • angela January 9, 2012, 9:38 am

    This made me cry. I am so happy for you that your boys and your friend did this for you. I am so happy for them that you are their mom and raising them in a way that makes (well, Thing One for now) understand why moments like that matter so, so much.

    • RChicken January 9, 2012, 9:11 pm

      Thing Two read my post today and had the idea that one of these days he won’t live here every day anymore. He said he was sorry for not realizing it sooner. I told him that was okay, and that he could unload the dishwasher to show his undying love ;)

  • Tania Elfersy (@PurpleLeavesRed) January 9, 2012, 10:45 am

    OMG, GREAT pics! What a wonderful gift and a huge amount of love that came your way – you deserve it :-)
    Tania Elfersy (@PurpleLeavesRed) recently posted..A Mother’s Memory

    • RChicken January 9, 2012, 9:07 pm

      Thanks. My copies of the photos have yet to be hung in the house, but it’s on my list of things to do A.S.A.P.

  • Miss Marina Star January 9, 2012, 3:23 pm

    I’m pretty sure this post wasn’t intended to make me tear up, but it totally did! This was such a thoughtful gift, and I’m so happy that you have people like this in your life.
    Miss Marina Star recently posted..Perfect Enough

    • RChicken January 9, 2012, 9:05 pm

      I confess: I cry even rereading it now. It was such a gift of the heart from my kids. Just when I think they’re nothing but smelly, sarcastic, lumps of testosterone infused flesh, they surprise me with something like that!

  • Sherri S January 9, 2012, 7:44 pm

    Wow! LOVE the photos. Love your story. Touching. Awesome. Best photos EVAH!
    Sherri S recently posted..You is Important

    • RChicken January 9, 2012, 9:04 pm

      Thank you. I love love love them. The pictures and the boys. An incredible gift, yes it was!

  • Jill January 9, 2012, 11:15 pm

    OMG – I totally cried too. And you have a fabu bestie to give you something so meaningful!

    Awesome and beautiful. So happy for you!!!
    Jill recently posted..Can you spare a few books? Or a kidney?

    • RChicken January 10, 2012, 6:16 am

      Thanks! It really was my favorite gift of all this holiday :)

  • Eric Storch January 10, 2012, 7:58 am

    You have some great kids there. Mine would NEVER do that.

    Those pictures are great and I think the ones they gave you really are the ones you should have.

    Linking up from LoveLinks.
    Eric Storch recently posted..I Should Be Working for GeekSquad

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:43 am

      Thanks for stopping by. You never know about your kids. I didn’t think mine would do that either!

  • Brandy @ Momwich January 10, 2012, 8:44 am

    Those are awesome photos, ones that reflect their true self. Besides, I always think the stuffy dressed up ones make people look like they have an uncomfortable wedgie. The pics those kiddos did for you, well – they rock :)
    Brandy @ Momwich recently posted..The Mid-Parenting Crisis

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:42 am

      Love the “wedgie” comment! So true :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Andrea @ The Penny-Roach's January 10, 2012, 9:01 am

    The ‘real’ pictures are always way nicer than the posed ones. Those are the ones that you will cherish forever, even if they don’t look ‘perfect’.
    Andrea @ The Penny-Roach’s recently posted..Ty’s Adventure With The IceCaps

  • Katie E January 10, 2012, 11:16 am

    You’re so right – the pictures of them just being themselves are so much better! I haven’t taken my girls for formal pictures in several years. But I have had a photographer take them the last couple years, and I tend to force them to wear what I want them to wear for a couple and then let them change and just be themselves. Those pictures are always better!

    It was so sweet of your best friend – and your boys – to conspire to give you such an awesome gift!
    Katie E recently posted..Does Anyone Use Real Names?

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:39 am

      I think all of us are always better when we’re ourselves :)

  • Ado January 10, 2012, 1:11 pm

    Oh aren’t you SO glad she had their photos taken? If we wait for our kids to “look perfect” or have the right haircuts we’ll miss photo opps like these! thanks for the reminder.
    Ado recently posted..The Fine Art of Projectile Vomiting

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:38 am

      Reminds me that I need more video of them. Seeing their mannerisms, their silliness in action is priceless!

  • January January 10, 2012, 7:45 pm

    What a sweet and thoughtful gift. The first photos are much better than the posed ‘perfect’ one…bar none. (though it’s still a lovely photo!) You can really see their personalities shine. Way to go bestie and kids!
    January recently posted..When he goes…

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:37 am

      Their personalities definitely are beaming in the “real” pictures. I see their personalities in the formal shots too. But the attitude is more like, “Ugh, do we HAVE to smile?” Ha!

  • Laura@Catharsis January 10, 2012, 8:06 pm

    Aww. What a great best friend, and what wonderful pictures. Your older son’s maturity really shines there, doesn’t it? He gets how important it is, and soon enough, so will your younger son. I agree, the real personalities, smiles, and clothes are great. It’s how they are, so it’s natural that that’s how you’d want the moments documented.
    Laura@Catharsis recently posted..Me? A featured contributor? Don’t mind if I do.

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:37 am

      The interesting thing about my kids is that my younger son is usually the one who is more aware of how his actions affect others. He’s my pleaser. He’s the one who does what he’s supposed to. All. The. Time. But to see that kindness and compassion from my older son, saved me from feeling like he really doesn’t give a sh*t. So glad my bestie shared that moment with me…made these pictures MORE of a gift than they already were.

  • Alison@Mama Wants This January 10, 2012, 8:38 pm

    I do love the pictures. LOVE. They are exactly as they should be. I remember thinking to myself about 13 years ago, when my cousin got married and had photos taken. They were in regular clothes, rollerblading. Because that’s who they were. And so that became my philosophy.

    I guess his explains why we still haven’t had ‘formal’ family portraits taken :)

    And Thing 1′s sentiment? Made me tear up a little. You have great kids!
    Alison@Mama Wants This recently posted..What Motherhood Isn’t

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:35 am

      Thanks, Alison…those wedding photos sound like a great idea for a laid back, fun-loving couple!

  • Kindred Adventures January 10, 2012, 9:51 pm

    Let me wipe the tears away so I can see what I am typing… All better. Your boys love you soooo much and your best friend..What a keeper (and I know keepers). I love candid photography. They are my favorite kind. Those pictures capture your boys life, passion, energy and personalities. {HUGGGGS} So happy for you. You are blessed! -LV
    Kindred Adventures recently posted..All the Chatter…

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:34 am

      Oh, Laverne…I’m always so glad when you stop by and leave me such great words :)

      I’m glad we both have a bestie who is so good to us! Hugs to Shirley!

  • my honest answer January 11, 2012, 10:11 am

    Aw, what a great gift! And I agree the ‘real’ ones are so much better. Who wants a picture of their kids in khakis if they never wear khakis? I find that idea odd – it’s like you’re doing it for other people, not yourself. Enjoy your pics (and what a lovely friend you have!
    my honest answer recently posted..I knew the Christmas questions would start coming in…

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:57 pm

      Once the boys and I decided to live so that WE were happy, life took such a positive turn for us.

      • my honest answer January 12, 2012, 5:12 am

        It’s such a good mantra! I think it’s often misinterpreted as ‘screw you, I’m doing what I want’, but I think you’re living it right – you’re doing things that genuinely make you happy, instead of what you feel you ‘ought’ to do. There’s a big difference. ‘Should’ is lately being vanished from my vocabularly, and you’re right, I feel so much more positive.

  • Jackie January 11, 2012, 1:32 pm

    What a great friend! I love that picture of the one putting the other in a headlock. If that’s not real life, then what is?
    Jackie recently posted..Truth Hurts

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 6:57 pm

      And they look like that in real life all the time :)

  • Lori January 11, 2012, 3:11 pm

    Oh what a GREAT post. I love the photos! I laughed. Yes, sometimes it is better to be natural than to be perfect.

  • Leighann January 11, 2012, 8:01 pm

    OH what sweet children you have!
    I love the pictures of them being themselves.
    LOVE!
    Leighann recently posted..The Caterpillar on her Arm

    • RChicken January 11, 2012, 9:37 pm

      Thanks :) They have their moments! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Robin | Farewell, Stranger January 11, 2012, 10:14 pm

    Oh, so awesome. And I’m so glad you posted the pictures! I was already trying to imagine them.

    That’s a really, really sweet thing for them all to have done, especially because it was planned.

  • Mynewfavoriteday January 12, 2012, 1:47 am

    Love your bestir and your thing 1 and 2! The pics they chose for you are amazing and wonderful. It’s them, as they say, you will remember when they aren’t around everyday. Yeah for you, your not-so-minis and your bestie. A very special gift and so lovely to read about.

  • Sue (aka Cookie's Mom) January 12, 2012, 7:31 am

    Ya, I love the first set of photos. Capturing who they truly are is the real photographer’s art. Well done, bestie. Kudos kiddos! You have some great kids there, Kimberly!
    Sue (aka Cookie’s Mom) recently posted..My Heart Belongs to You, Little One

  • deborah l quinn January 12, 2012, 8:24 am

    Well said, well said. It’s not the “perfect” outside that matters; it’s what’s inside, right? And those pictures (plus their conversation) reveal what’s inside. Love it.
    deborah l quinn recently posted..versatile? c’est moi (and no, I don’t know how to say it in arabic)

  • Jamie January 12, 2012, 7:15 pm

    Oh wow! What a bestie! You are absolutely right that the REAL photos are much better! What a gift!
    Jamie recently posted..once we were ONE

  • Naked Girl in a Dress January 14, 2012, 7:40 am

    Full disclosure: I cry easily.

    This post made me cry. It just touched me that you have two wonderful boys and a very special friend. What a beautiful, thoughtful gift.

    I also like the boys just the way they are…not in the traditional Christmas shot.
    Naked Girl in a Dress recently posted..Embracing Dysfunction

    • RChicken January 14, 2012, 10:06 am

      Thanks for stopping by…I treasure my boys (and my best friend).

  • By Word of Mouth Musings January 31, 2012, 10:02 am

    How did I miss this one?
    Love it, all of it … the pics are priceless but the words .. .ack, made me mist over ;)
    By Word of Mouth Musings recently posted..Monday Muse – Tracy Jensen May

    • RChicken January 31, 2012, 5:57 pm

      I don’t know how you missed them the first time around, but so glad you got to see them today. Thank you so much for stopping by :)

  • Beth (OMG! Yummy) January 31, 2012, 11:15 am

    Love this story! What a great bestie you have and two great kids. Mine are about the same age – my Thing One just turned 17 and my Thing Two is a girl about to turn 14. That is a whole different animal – let me tell you :-) I agree that photos that reveal personality and not just perfect hair and makeup are the best!

    Saying hi from SITS on your big day!
    Beth (OMG! Yummy) recently posted..Break out the Bubbly! – New Leaf Community Market set to open in Evergreen Feb 1

    • RChicken January 31, 2012, 5:52 pm

      Thanks for coming by…enjoy those Things :)

  • Connie Lissner August 3, 2012, 9:44 pm

    So great! I stopped having formal pictures taken of my two boys years ago because they were so stiff – I would buy the pics and never display them. I love all of the pictures of your kids!
    Connie Lissner recently posted..Controlled Chaos

  • Angi November 17, 2012, 8:23 am

    These photos are WONDERFUL. I wish I had some just like it with my kiddos. My favorite pictures are never the ones with a kid sitting, feet together, hands akwardly on knees! Found you on SITS
    Angi recently posted..Finding patience in motherhood

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