On Saturday we went to our local Pumpkin Patch Michell Brothers Farm. My dad took my sister and I when we were little and I have so many fun memories. I typically wanted the biggest pumpkin I could find, my sister always wanted the “baby” pumpkin. One of the best parts of being a parent is getting to take your child to your fondly remembered places. In taking her I hope to create those memories for her as well. I really, really, really, love taking Everly to the places of my childhood, really. Well to be honest, I love taking her anywhere. She always finds the most interesting things and really makes you take a second look at where you are and what you are doing. I see things that I don’t usually see, or maybe I did once but had forgotten. I think that as we grow up we are consumed with the responsibilities of an adult life. Most of us, unfortunately, forget that glee-filled-moment of picking out the perfect pumpkin and we forget that the smell of earth, rot and rusting metal can actually be an indication of a day well spent.
This year was our second time at the Pumpkin Patch as a family. I had been there tons of times before as a photographer and that was so much easier let me tell you! I didn’t care if the kids got dirty- it gave the shots character. I wore rubber boots as no one would see me in the photos so it didn’t matter what I looked like. I showed up, I took pictures; then I edited said pictures put them on a disc, mailed them off and then I was done.
Being part mom, part photographer at the pumpkin patch is a whole different story. You worry a little (or maybe a lot) about the dirt; wondering if you should soak that when you get home to keep a stain from setting. You can’t freely hurdle through the mud heaps and lonely pumpkin carcasses to get your perfect shots because you wore shoes that look decent in a photograph that you know will be taken. And getting to the pumpkin patch required planning between meals, naps and your husband’s work schedule. When you are done, you still go home and edit the photos, but they will rarely make it to disc. Hell, they will rarely make it off your computer. And then you make dinner and do bath time and bed time. And then you edit photos of someone else’s family.
I wish I could say that I was the person who doesn’t care about the dirt, but I do, lol. When I see someone make a mess in a movie, even if it is in a moment of anger I always think- someone’s got to clean that up now. It’s just this part of my brain that I can’t switch off when it comes to myself, my home or sometimes, my offspring. This isn’t to say that Everly isn’t allowed to get dirty- she is totally allowed to get dirty, I just prefer that she wear the getting dirty clothes and shoes. Is that unreasonable, am I totally OCD? Do you other mothers have play clothes and “photo” clothes? I really don’t even mind the photo clothes getting dirty once the photo has been taken; I just like her to be clean in the photo!
Before I was a parent I didn’t get why parents cared so much about their children smiling in photos and being clean. I just saw the child’s multiple expressions as expression of their personalities and the artsy fartsy side of me always likes to capture something different. And yes, I maintain what I said above; dirt can add some serious character to a shot. But, now that I have a child of my own I GET IT! I get the need for the smile; I get the need to stay clean! When I was looking through the shots of the day I sighed and said to Brandon, hmmm Everly isn’t smiling in any of these and look how dirty she got. However, oh and it’s a big however she still looks cute and I will still cherish those pictures.
Why do we attach so much value to the smile and the cleanliness quotient? Are we worried our kids will think they grew up neglected and unhappy or worse… do we worry that (gasp) other parents will think that? Is it something our parents told us? Why is it so darn important? Because I can tell you that 98% of the photos I have up in my house are not of people smiling, and you know what, they might even be a little bit scruffy if you look closely.
And here’s my baby girl, enjoying herself amongst the mud!