It was that time of year again—time for our holiday picture photo session. I have a love/hate relationship with sending holiday cards. It’s generally the only time of year I do professional photos because the process is pretty stressful, but I love having this tradition with my family and also truly enjoy receiving cards from others. This year, in particular, was quite stressful. Trying to get out the door with a one-, two- and eight-year-old is no small feat. It typically ends with a lot of yelling and my husband and I bickering.
When we arrived at our photo destination, the little ones were just not having it. Bribery was barely working and I was at my wit’s end. I just wanted that “perfect” holiday photo. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was losing my patience and getting in a very bad mood because they just wouldn’t cooperate. I left the photo shoot super annoyed and disappointed—actually angry.
Afterward, we were heading into the city for my 8-year-old’s piano recital, and since we were already late, I was driving separately to pick up some food for the after party. Luckily I was alone when I received the call. A colleague/friend with whom I’d worked for ten years had passed away suddenly in her sleep. When I heard, I literally fell to my knees saying, “No no, not her.”
She was one of the most amazing people I had ever met in my life. She was full of joy, always had a big laugh, and had a way to connect with just about anyone she met. She made you feel like you truly mattered to her and she was as authentic as they come.
And she was a mom to an 8 -year old girl. The same age as my eldest and this hit home even harder. She had no prior medical history and was sending texts to friends talking about her Thanksgiving plans just hours before she was found unresponsive. This was beyond tragic.
I have been grieving her loss but and at the same time, something inside of me changed. I realized how silly it was for me to be so angry and stressed over my holiday cards. And how important was that perfect picture if I wasn’t enjoying the moment and the time spent with my little ones? Sure, it can be frustrating doing a photo shoot with toddlers, but perhaps I needed to readjust my expectations and attitude. It was then that I realized how uptight I have been for the past couple of years. Yes, having three children—two of whom are 14 months apart—is definitely not easy and tests my patience, but I think I lost perspective on how precious life truly is.
Other things I have learned this week and through this loss:
When I am feeling frustrated (and it is okay to get frustrated because, let’s face it, having young children is hard), I need to remove myself from the situation for even just 10 seconds and take a deep breath.
Having the perfect picture truly doesn’t matter. There are perfectly imperfect moments that are precious and special in their own way.
I am going to make a greater effort to really connect with people when I am with them. Put my phone down and talk to them and try to clear my mind of my To Do list so that I can actually have an authentic conversation.
Live a little lighter, laugh more, and enjoy more.
Make more of an effort, in general, to not sweat the small stuff. Life is a fragile, precious, and a gift that can be taken from us at any given moment
I wish it wasn’t the loss of a friend that reset my reality, but I’m looking at it as part of her legacy she is leaving behind. Reminding us all of what truly matters, being a more loving and caring person and showing up in the world with positivity and authenticity.