I’m sitting at my computer watching a slide show of photos of happy kids, untroubled parents and a family that clearly loves life, each other and having fun. Who are these people? They look an awful lot like my family. But there’s no way these happy-go-lucky folks are even remotely related to me, my exhausted husband, or my increasingly annoying two children.
Why can’t life be more like a photo montage? I mean, in all fairness, I took a lot of these pictures. I was actually present for each and every happy moment that’s parading before me on my computer screen. I can even remember most of the events without a great deal of prompting. I ought to feel as joyful and carefree as my celluloid image. But I don’t.
The mom in the photos is young, happy, and easy-going. I, in contrast, feel tired, ancient and about as close to breaking as an overstrung archery bow. I can’t even imagine my two sons sitting next to each other without trying to kill each other. And I’m not sure I can remember the last time I saw my husband smile. This is making me sad.
Maybe there’s some way to “fake it till you make it.” If I just pretend to be as happy as photo me, maybe I’ll somehow morph into her. Maybe if I act like her, my family will follow suit and my kids will burst out into peels of laughter instead of screeching furiously at one another. Maybe if I can just convince myself that she is me I can bring a sense of joy and ease back into our lives.
That seems kind of impossible from my current vantage point. Maybe I’ll just write a play about a writer who wills herself into her computer to relive all the happiness depicted in her iphoto albums. I bet that’d get old pretty quickly though. I mean, how many chilly San Francisco cable car rides would it take before even photo mom got bored?
No. I guess I’m stuck out here, being me, watching her, wondering how we all got so frustrated and disgruntled about life when it really is filled with so many opportunities to love and enjoy each other. Maybe I just need to realize that we do have joyful moments, mixed into the misery of 113 degree days, unending errands and piles of dirty laundry. Maybe it’s all about focus. When you take a picture you take a moment, you breathe, you stay still and snap, the perfect shot. Most of the time in life I forget to breathe, am running 150 miles per hour and never even look where I’m headed.
I am that woman in the photos. I just need to aim my eagle eye at the good things, the happy moments, the daily victories, and not to concentrate so hard on the tirades, the tantrums and the tragedies. It’s all about where you aim the camera, set the F-stop, and how you choose to compose each shot. Plus one can always add a little bit of flash to brighten up the image a bit. Remember, as Gentle Giant once sang, “I am a camera.”