Anatomy of a Family Photo - Jamie Farrell

Anatomy of a Family Photo

A Mother’s Guide to a Memorable Family Photo Experience

Step One: Set a date

Plan a couple months in advance so you can finally lose those fifteen pounds you’ve been carrying around since giving birth five years ago. (And the ten each from the subsequent pregnancies.)

Step Two: Get a haircut

As the big day approaches, arrange for babysitting so you can go by yourself, or schedule the haircut so your husband can watch all the children while you go have a Mommy Day. Try to look in a few magazines so that  you know what you want done. Because your stylist will have forgotten your name since the last time you had a haircut was before you got pregnant with baby #3 who’s now four months old, and so he’s not going to remember how you like it cut either.

Step Three: Have a makeup meltdown

Casually mention to your husband that you haven’t worn makeup since Bush was in office. And that your supply might not have survived that last move. But, “Don’t worry, honey, I’ll just run to Walmart and buy some more.” When he asks if you know what to do with makeup after you’ve bought it, realize you’re a little rusty. Okay, a lot rusty. Have a glass of wine. It’s not like you have to surrender your girl card just because you’re a little rusty with the misc-masc–what’s that stuff called again?

Step Four: Phone a friend

Friends don’t let friends go to family photos looking like drunken raccoons with purple lips. This is why we have girlfriends. Use them. Request help with a “practice makeup session.” Bonus if you can leave the kids home again. Bigger bonus if she helps you look for your missing girl card.


The day before the photos, notice all your facebook friends are posting family pictures at the beach with their family in matching jeans and white t-shirts, and you don’t even know if you have jeans that fit the children anymore. Drive all over the coastal area looking for coordinating white shirts. Find appropriate shirts for the boys, but realize the matching girls shirts are practically see-through and way too tight. Jeez, it’s like the sizes are shrinking or something. (Or maybe somewhere above we forgot to go on that diet…) Curse your facebook friends for buying all the good white shirts in Florida. Decide not to do matching outfits but have no back-up plan. Give husband a coronary because he keeps making suggestions you don’t like but you can’t decide what you do like.

HELLO. We are still a woman! Maybe we still have that girl card after all.

Drink another glass of wine. Buy a couple packs of Hanes, and just wear two to solve the see-through problem.

Which brings us to The Big Day.

Step Six: This Is Not A Drill

Shower. Wash your hair. Get out the hair dryer and curling iron, if you can find them, because you should absolutely not look like yourself on the day when you have family photos taken. Remind yourself that hairdryers  have to suck air in somewhere in order to blow it out somewhere else and therefore you should not stick the entire hair dryer into your hair. Or, if you forget that part, you can yank your hair out of the back of the hairdryer when your newly (but short-lived) not-split ends get sucked into the dryer and you’re stuck in the bathroom attached to the hair dryer because you’re so freaked out you’ve forgotten that you can just unplug the hair dryer and your husband has driven up to Alabama for a last-minute effort to find different matching white shirts (or maybe just hide from you) and your children aren’t old enough to bring you the scissors.

Don’t drop your curling iron and burn your toes. Don’t touch it to your ears either. Why, no, this isn’t personal experience speaking…

Snarf a couple chocolate bars. Go get out your nail polish (Pictures on the BEACH! We must have painted toes!) and remember you threw it all out a few years ago when it started looking like a nuclear experiment with cottage cheese gone wrong. Offer sexual favors to your husband if you can please please please go have a pedicure by yourself.

Put the kids down for a nap, get dressed in your jeans and white t-shirt, and head out for manis, pedis, and the girlfriend THIS-IS-NOT-A-DRILL makeup session.

Spill make-up on your white shirt.

Fix it with hydrogen peroxide.

Repeat a couple times.

Go home to get the family ready.

Stick your finger in baby poop and get puked on by the two-year-old.

Step Seven: Smile!

You’ve gotten yourself all dolled up, the kids are clean, your husband is mostly sober, he’s held the two-year-old’s head over a puke bucket all the way to the beach while you race through traffic since you’re running late, because you are Not. Going. Through. This. Trauma. Again.

But it’s all worth it, because at the end of the day, you get this:

Copyright 2013, Munchkin Farrell

Buttercup, Me, Munchkin, Hubby, and Squeaker

And you realize it’s perfect, even if Squeaker looks like a blue Ronald McDonald and your husband’s head is in the clouds and you have some rather awkward love handles. Because they’re your family, and you love them just the way they are.

Just like they love you just the way you are.

* * *

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Leave a Comment:

Ellen says June 23, 2013

Love this!

Bobbi says July 29, 2013

ROTFLMAO!!! You poor thing. The look is beautiful though. (Loved the curls too!)

Martha says October 8, 2013

Are those love handles or boobs? This post was totally not what I thought it was going to be, and it was so much better! I probably related to this a little too well. See also: getting the family ready for your sister’s wedding.

    Jamie Farrell says October 8, 2013

    LOL – I think he was going for shoulder pads. 🙂

    So far, we haven’t had to do the wedding thing. How much wine did that involve? 🙂

marcyshuler says September 25, 2014

Loved this! It’s sweet how Buttercup favors you…Mickey Mouse ears and all. 😀

    Jamie Farrell says September 26, 2014

    LOL, Marcy! 🙂

Gail Demaree says September 25, 2014

I just love it. Best family photo.

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