This month’s Me and Mine is extra special. Or at least I really really hope it is. With a bit of luck and a following wind (and probably some acupuncture and encouraging thoughts towards the Little Bump) this should be our last Me and Mine as a family of four. And I can’t believe I just wrote that. Apart from the whole fact that this means this baby’s arrival really is happening quite soon, I’ve almost certainly just consigned myself to going all the way to my induction date and an early September arrival!
Of more certainty is that this is the last Me and Mine in which we don’t own garden furniture that did not come from a hockey tour. It’s probably a sign of advancing middle age but I’m claiming pregnancy and the fact that it feels like it takes ten minutes to get up off the ground at the moment as the impetus that took us to Homebase on a Sunday afternoon to order a nice comfy garden chair – and a table and the rest of the chairs that go with it. It arrives this week and I can’t wait; I’m having lovely visions of sitting outside with our tiny new baby while the girls run up and down the garden for the rest of the summer, even if the reality is that we sit and watch the rain plopping down onto the table half the time! (That would be this weekend’s forecast then).
Because it is that last Me and Mine, I really wanted to do something special, to think of somewhere stunning for a backdrop, magically coax all of the family into the most perfect of picture-taking moods, and somehow become a completely genius photographer overnight, not to mention be able to split myself in two so that I can both take the photos and be in them. And my mind went blank; well about the achievable bits anyway, it just got realistic about the rest.
But at the end of the day what really matters is not so much how the photo looks, but that I took it, and preferably without everyone’s memories of the occasion being something along the lines of “oh yes, that was the day Mummy made us go out and have our picture taken and it was really annoying because we just wanted to turn the house upside down and sit on Daddy’s head instead”. So we went back to basics.
At the end of the day I think that most of us that join in with the Me and Mine project do so not because we never ever ever took pictures of our family as a whole, but because we realised that we’d got the high days and holidays covered but not the in between. The missing links of those months between Christmas and Easter, or Easter and birthdays. And so what I’m trying to capture isn’t, and shouldn’t really be some highly polished scrubbed cheek version of us, but the everyday reality of what our life is like. Or perhaps a version that’s had a quick once over with a baby wipe; no one really wants to look back on the diary of their early childhood to discover just how many times in one day the phrase “stop right there – we use gentle hands in this family!” could be heard.
So for our probably hopefully last Me and Mine as a quartet, it’s just us, in the back garden, on a gorgeously sunny evening, eating BBQ supper (thank you lovely husband). All the detritus is there, the drinks, the ketchup, the smears of sauce across tiny cheeks and everyone’s fingers, and we’re all still camped out on the picnic blankets (which is more comfortable for some of us than others!)
I remember the little things; the certainty that in just about every photo at least one of us would have a mouthful of food
The squeals of delight that we got from Elma when we told her to say “Daddy” rather than ‘cheese”
The bliss that comes in feeling that the day is finally starting to cool down; not too much but just enough to make sitting still bearable, combined with a supper that did not involve adding any additional source of heat to our kitchen.
And above all, the happiness in simply being in that moment together, at the end of a day that had held more than its fair share of exhausted parents and fractiously hyperactive children. And being able to step back to the knowledge that a day is made up of many many moments; some will be good, some will be not so great, and some will just be; and that’s OK; and that this was a good one.
My little family; in July.