A few weeks ago Abby, Kady, and I took the granddaughters to Joplin to get their Christmas pictures taken. Abby chose the earliest appointment time they had in the hopes no one would be needing a nap, fighting a nap, or taking a nap. (Least of all, me.) Both girls were all smiles the entire drive up there. But all we can figure is there is some kind of forcefield around the JC Penney Portrait Studio that causes all children to do a 180° the second they approach the place. Suddenly, Wemberly was like a chihuahua on espresso laced with meth and Petal was the most starving-est, crying-est baby EVER.
Now, the older I get, the less things bother me. I have learned the fine art of Rolling With It. I have a background in early childhood, so toddler and baby chaos are nothing new to me. That day, I was simply enjoying the insanity that unfolded. While the photographer was trying to get Petal situated in a little wooden crate, Wemberly was systematically dismantling the entire studio, her hairbow, her sister’s beret, the stroller, and her mother’s will to live. Petal acted like she had never smiled a day in her life even though mere moments before she had been cooing and smiling like a champ. Wemberly wanted NOTHING to do with her sister. The photographer was doing her best to take pictures of two adorable little heathens, Kady was acting like a complete moron trying to get somebody in that place to crack a smile, Abby was getting more and more frustrated by the second, and there I was, gleefully soaking up every moment of the cacophony.
Abby is a young momma with a set of almost-Irish Twins and a lot on her plate. She is easily overwhelmed, probably due to sleep deprivation and the fact that a tiny human uses her as a living soft drink dispenser 24 hours a day. About 15 minutes into the photo shoot, while Kady and I were singing a rousing rendition of The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Abby just threw her hands in the air and said, “This is NOT working. I’m done.” She snatched up Petal and stomped toward the doorway. I gently stopped her, gently lifted the baby from her arms, and gently said, “Now, Momma. This is only bothering you. The rest of us are Rolling With It.” She blinked back tears. I smiled.
Once we finished the session both girls were happy once more and I was still marveling at the wonderment of it all. I was all smiles, but that young momma on a bench with a baby attached to her was not. I wondered why she hadn’t enjoyed the precocious spontaneity of her eldest and the absolute adorableness of her youngest. And suddenly I flashed back to when I had three little ones. Invariably, hairbows went askew, the boy kept picking his nose, someone always had to pee as soon as we got upstairs (and the bathroom is downstairs), I always considered taking up drinking on picture day. As I was relating the story of the photo session, my sister said, “But Kristin, think about it. You are her standard. No, you never felt like you had it all together, but from her perspective, as the ringleader of the chaos, you did. Just like how Mom was probably struggling with us, but all you could see was her being perfect.”
It’s truly all about the perspective. Just a few nights ago, at a high school Christmas concert, Wemberly was restless. I sat her down and let her explore while I held onto her shirt, lest she spill over the edge of the bleachers. She was babbling and laughing, people were looking. Abby kept shushing her, but me? I was smiling like crazy as people laughed and nudged the person next to them so they, too, could experience my wonderfully delightful granddaughter. Abby was dying of mortification, I was loving the fact Wemberly was so curious and happy, and then I just happened to catch my own mother looking at us all with a smile.
It really is all about perspective.
Born a semi-diva and married to a redneck, through the magic of osmosis or just because of a serious lack of sophistication over the years, Kristin Hoover has found a balance of the two that makes her what she is today.