Saturday, October 5, 2013

Letting go (#31 days to Sanctuary day 5)

I've always had this vision in my head of the mother I would be.  Included in this dream was the lovely family portraits we would take to document all of our bonding family traditions.  From the time Brady was a baby, I was adamant that we would take a family trip to the pumpkin patch every October.  That's just what good families do in my little dream world.  So we would bundle him up for the trip, drive out to the farm, and wrestle him on to the hayride.  We would make encouraging comments like "Look at all the pumpkins!  Isn't this fun?"  The only response we would get would be a grumpy faced little boy not at all interested in the pumpkins.  Once Maryn entered the picture, it was double the "fun" (and struggle).  We were now  carrying and crying baby as we chased a toddler who was running and tripping through the rows of pumpkins.  At the end of the trip, when we were tired, dirty, and grumpy, I would convince some unsuspecting stranger to take a picture for us to remember the moment.  For every one that came out like this,

There would be ten more that showed a more truthful reality (note my fake smile, Maryn not paying attention, and Brady being grumpy):

At some point I began compromising and gave up on the big family picture for individual shots of the kids:

They might start out cute, but there was always a point when it would start to break down:


Real life is rarely an Instagram shot, all lovely and filtered.  It's gritty and moody and often surprisingly beautiful if we are willing to give up our expectations of how it "should" be.

I spent seven years forcing my family into a tradition that no one seemed to enjoy (even me).  The image in my head of my little pumpkins in the fields doesn't match reality and I had to let it go.  A day of family fighting for the shot at one decent picture to document a false reality was no longer worth it.

 Sometimes sanctuary is found in freeing ourselves from expectations that have instead become unreasonable burdens.  Today, instead of the pumpkin patch, we went to a country store that has our favorite ice cream.  Even better, they also sell pumpkins.  Our kids were much happier selecting two little pumpkins, eating ice cream, and then monkeying around in a tree outside than they ever were on a hayride search for the great pumpkin.  And what do you know, I even got a cute picture in the deal.


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