Saturday, May 14, 2011

In which I attempt to portray life as perfect

I realize I've been leaning heavy of late on pictures to speak for me rather than words. Pictures speak half truths. They only tell one- sixteenth of the story. I can choose which pictures to share with you, and they are certainly most often the pictures that show the more beautiful, more seemingly perfect, sides of life. Life as I wish to see it: Simplified.
Pared down.

I don't photograph my kids when they are whining or yelling at me.
I don't photograph myself when I am yelling at my kids.
I have no pictures of the ticks, swollen with the blood of my child, I keep removing from Isla's head.
I can't photograph the fear and guilt I feel when removing said ticks, wondering if they carry Lyme disease.
I don't take pictures of the mouse shit on the counter each and every morning.
I don't photograph my back fat, my irritability at all my too -tight pants,  or the lines the top of my socks etch into my calves after a day of wear.
I don't take pictures of my parmesean cheese heels, in dire need of a cheese grater.
I don't take pictures of my sad, tense face on the phone with my Dad as he repeats himself and I know he's not going to tell mom I called, or why.
I can't take pictures of the knots my brain and heart goes into when I'm talking to my friend about her marriage problems.
I don't photograph the sorry state of the inside of my car.
I don't take pictures of the sorry state of the inside of my purse.
I have no pictures of the globs of toothpaste that are forever sticking to the side of the sink.
I don't take pictures of the tears in Isla's eyes when I catch her off guard with my impatience, or my anger.
I didn't photograph the pathetic tantrum Essie had tonight--the one I knew was coming since she went to a birthday party sleepover last night and stayed up past midnight-- just before she fell asleep, curled up on a chair
I won't be photographing the world's most depressing Shaw's Supermarket in Poultney.
I can't take a picture of the TMJ headache I have right now and which I am medicating with a gin and tonic.
I cannot photograph the sadness and regret I feel with each new day that goes by without our speaking a word of French.
Nor could I capture the emptyness I felt when walking the hollow streets of my childhood home town the other day.

There's nothing wrong, I suppose, with focusing on the more beautiful, pristine parts of life. It's human nature. It just feels, oh, I don't know, false some times. Like misrepresentation.

But, then again, it could be the very thing all of us need, a reminder to look under the dead leaves,  behind the disappointments, and beyond the idealized childhood memories, for the good stuff that's here right now.

Like Sissy's Kitchen

which is worthy of two photos.

Or raw organic milk from the Larson Farm

Or the joy of a screened in porch, not to mention being reunited with my old slippers.

And a new green yoga mat

on a rare slow morning.


Emma said...

I think we could pretty much swap lives and not really notice, in terms of the toothpaste, the whining and the tangled brain. I know what you mean about editing out the bad- but, oh, how overwhelming would it be to keep a catalogue of all that stuff? Much nicer to keep a record of the good times, then you can look back and realise that you didn't do as badly as you thought!

Angela said...

Lucky our photographs - and memories - ARE selective, and later we can just look back at the good side!! But comforting to hear that your reality has a lot in common with mine, maybe I am not doing so badly ;) (and I MUST wipe all the bird poo off the car today, even if I don't clean the inside)...

Joy said...

I hear you. I sometimes feel that way too. But I want to bask in the glory of my children's childhood not constantly brood over the grittier aspects. (I do that enough in my own head, believe me.)

Your area of the country is so lovely. My husband has been trying to convince me to move there (from NC) for years. Your pictures make me feel like he might be right. :)

Robin said...

Hi Betsy, it's Robin, aka robin from Momfo, and I haven't been photographing anything lately, because I can't remember to charge the f-ing batteries in my camera, but if I did, I wouldn't take pics of the inside of my purse, car, office, and most days, my living room. I put my kids on the porch to take their picture, but only if I can keep my uncut lawn out of the picture. And I can only imagine the photo someone could catch of me yelling at my kids.

But you should definitely enjoy that yoga mat, not to mention those cupcakes. I started doing yoga more regularly a few months ago when my husband and I separated, and I can't imagine how much worse things would have been if I hadn't focused just that tiny bit of attention on relaxing. And I bought a sweet kids' yoga video called A Child's Way to Yoga that my 6.5-year-old and about to be 3-year-old like, even if the songs are super duper cheesy and that might be a bit young for Esther. But there are tons of others on Amazon, and I remember some that look a bit more of a fit for your girls, if you're interested. It's a nice way to do something physical with them that has a nice connection to go with it. Just a thought.

Anna said...

Perfect Post! Perfect doesn't have to mean just one side of life.

Pam said...

Any chance you and the girls can practice your French together? It would be so wonderful, especially if your girls could continue to speak French. Maybe watch some French language movies... I don't know, I empathize with you, and your post made me kind of sad.

Betsy said...

Robin: I hear you about the yoga. So hard to make myself do it, and not stop in the middle to vacuum under the couch, but I am always happy once I do. Having this special "yoga room" is extra motivation.

Betsy said...

Pam: We do speak some French, though not enough. And we have some great French audiobooks Esther loves to listen to.

Emilyplays said...

Yeah, why does life have sucky stuff in it! Nothing wrong with an occasional wallow though.
Your pictures are so lovely to see. I often think that perhaps my perspective on my life would brighten if seen through your camera lens.
The whole idea of photographing the difficulties in life reminds me of the little stab I feel when I see a picture of someone's kid really crying or tantruming. It is not the fact of the tantrum or the crying that is painful to me, it is knowing that it will be preserved forever, never to gently fade away. Or am I like a two year old who covers her eyes and that means everything is gone since I can't see it?!

mooserbeans said...

It is amazing, though, how the smallest moment of beauty or calm can erase so much of the bad. It is also amazing how overtime all of the bad things can be turned into amusing annecdotes. I call it blog fodder. Althoug right now my blog fodder is wearing me out. I think yours is, too. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

I actually have some pictures of the bad stuff. Not that I really want anyone to see them. Tantrums, messes, yard work undone, one of my kids glaring at me because I DARE to take a picture of them..... The list goes on. Though I mostly have good, smiling, happy pictures. One of our older daughters fixed the whole "I don't want to publish the messy stuff" thing for me. She came over and was taking pictures of the kids doing various things. I was folding the gobs of laundry that I have every day. I always dump it onto one of the couches and fold it all at once when I get an available hour. In the background of some of the pictures of the kids building with wooden blocks you can see the mountain of clothes that I still have to fold, along with the stacks for each person growing in size as I fold them. She then posted them on FaceBook..... At first I was a bit peeved, but then I thought "You know what? That's my reality! Everything isn't always clean and perfect. The clothes don't come out of the dryer pre-folded and put themselves away. The dishes and dinner don't clean themselves up as soon as everyone's done." There has to be a messy period of time in there. There are tantrums along with the laughter. So, screw it! I say post it all! Just like you did when you posted your kitchen table. It's honest. It's real. And unless you're an uber-cleaner like my sister things get messy. I'll also admit that there are times when I just decide "You know what? I'm not going to do this right now." Lazy me!

I do love your pictures. I soak them up and freeze them in my mind because I miss home so much. All that green! I wish that I could send you pictures of where I am so that you could fully appreciate the beauty that you have there every day. It's so DRY here! So POKY! Did you know that you can't walk outside barefoot (which is my favorite way of walking around outside. Memories of walking through the grass....). If you dare to try the barefoot thing you get these thorns in your feet. Down here they call them "stickers" and are referred to as "Bulls heads" or "Goat heads" I think that they look like bull's heads myself. Google it. You'd run through the Vermont grass for 10 minutes straight for me after seeing those things (Let me know if you do!)!

And, by the way, there's mouse shit no matter where you live! I finally got one of those things that you plug in that emits a pulse. It only sounds like a click to me, but I haven't seen a mouse anywhere near the kitchen since I put it in.

Thanks for keeping us all posted on how you're doing. And keep those pictures and stories coming!


Kathleen Trail said...

I'm a big fan of revisionist history, personally! And your yoga comment made me think of a piece I wrote a couple of years ago about the yoga-guilt continuum:

Seamingly Sarah said...

I really need those single good moments (or photographs in this case) to wipe away all the bad moments. I had that kind of day today. I needed just one moment to help me fall in love with my whining, why asking, demanding 3 year old. And I got just that one moment to make it through the rest of the day.

Betsy said...

Kathleen: Loved your article.That is exactly how it is. Sometimes I find myself doing yoga while watching TV and drinking wine. Does this count as ultitasking? Not so mindful.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what kind of slippers those just might be ... I'm wondering if they're Wicked Good LLBean Slippers or if that's just my materialism talking, or causing me to drool thinking they are Wicked Good LLBean Slippers : )


Betsy said...

Adrianne-p: You know, I have a recollection that they are from Target, but I'm not entirely sure. I do find that most of my favorite wearables with the most staying power have been from Target (prounounced Tarjay-the French boutique.)

Betsy said...

KiminAZ: I could not live without going barefoot.

Anonymous said...


Stand in the grass barefoot and remind me of how it feels. I bet that Esther and Isla would have some fun and descriptive words and explanations for it too.
If I EVER get anywhere that there's real grass I'm going to run barefoot through it until I can't breathe! My feet NEED the rich earth and grass!