(The photograph-taking was painful, almost. I'm mindful that the beautiful brown summer has faded from my skin and I revert to alabaster marble, blue-veined and translucent, sickly thin and without my security-blanket mermaid hair. PJ didn't want to wear a button-down shirt. At the last minute, Henry's dress pants failed to fit him anymore and Ruth waged a brief fit, wanting to wear stripes instead of solids. Ben's cowlick made its annual appearance and no amount of convincing could make it lie flat and New-Jake kept asking anyone who stood still why he was in the picture when he had only been here for a couple of months, to the point where even Sam told him to stop talking and hush. Lochlan's hair curled, much to his dismay and Christian was late so we were all scowling in the earliest shots since we had waited so long the whole idea was almost scrapped altogether.
This was a sitting, purchased from the photographer as a fundraiser for the kids' recreation club. Family portraits. Only instead of four, the children asked if we could have everyone. The photographer quickly suggested he come to us when I phoned to confirm our appointment and ask how much room he had for we have seventeen in our family, on any given day.
We all trooped out to the cliff through the damp grass and were arranged in a clutch, with the shortest people in front and the tallest in back but also in order of importance so somehow Lochlan and Ben stand on either side of me and do not appear to have the usual six-inch height difference between them because Ben was standing back a bit further. The children are in the front. I was placed dead-center (har) and Schuyler was vaguely miffed that he and Daniel are on opposite sides.
It was a first, and I think we pulled it off. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was looking at the camera. No one moved and blurred, no one photo-bombed (this is an extreme sport in our household) and everyone was still speaking when it was over. Kind of like wedding pictures, the whole endeavor was taken very seriously. It's a family picture, and we're a family if ever there was one. I'm going to suggest we make it an annual event.
And in the picture, my hands are hidden. The children are standing in front of me so my arms aren't visible anyway. They are crossed behind my back and one hand is holding on to Ben's little finger and the other hand is holding Lochlan's hand. It doesn't mean anything to you but it means everything to me. I had to keep my balance somehow, I was standing on their toes.)