A Portrait

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by Andrea Simanson

What do you want your family to be like?

What is it like right now? If you had to describe your family or paint a picture of them, what would it look like?

Here’s a picture of our family. It’s actually a portrait.

Isn’t that a nice portrait? Don’t we all look nice, put together, loving, caring, and peaceful?

A portrait is “posed.” We all know that it’s not a true reflection of what life is like most of the time.

NOW, what most people DO know about this portrait is that likely the 30 minutes prior to having it taken was not a most peaceful time. You know the story . . . “Mom, I can’t find the white shirt!!!” “Did you look in your closet?” “Yeah!” “Well, I pressed it this morning before we left and hung it in your closet,” saying this as you walk through the house into your 8-year old’s bedroom. You find him on the floor with some army toys or puzzle pieces (no evidence whatsoever that he’s actually used his eyes to “look” into the closet). Your husband is sitting at the table reviewing the mail, checking email, paying a bill online, flipping on the TV to check the score of tonight’s game (“unwinding” as we call it), and your 10-year old daughter approaches you wanting an opinion about her attire and hair style, but you know that you really don’t have the time to pull the pony tail out and brush through every strand of hair, let alone the time it would take to style a french braid or put a fancy hair clip in. Your 2-year old is sitting at the table eating his pre-dinner snack so he can get through the photo shoot “cooperatively” with a smile on his face. “ Why did we pick the 6:30pm timeslot” I ask myself in the midst of all the other questions running through my head. “Oh, yeah, it was the only time left on the schedule, and I decided it was important to have a family portrait done.” “Why? Because we’ve never had one and all of our relatives need to see what we look like! That’s why.” Okay, okay, and we need one because “doesn’t every family have a family portrait!”

“Mom, what about socks!” “Just make sure they’re dark so we don’t have “white socks” in the picture! “I don’t have any clean dark socks.” “Well, put dirty dark socks on then!” At this point the anger management class is sounding like a good idea.

You are really trying to keep it all together because you want everyone in a good mood for the picture now, don’t you??? Finally, it’s 6:10 p.m., and you want to leave so you can be a bit early, and you say “Okay everyone, it’s time to head to the van.” You glance one more time in the mirror to discover that you need to touch up your makeup and, oh well, I wanted to curl it, but the hair will just have to do. At as is. You’re having thoughts like “Well, the Carlson family picture turned out so perfect; the kids were so cute and CLEAN and NEAT. Why can’t we be the same?” As you grab your purse and head for the garage, you stumble over your 2-year old who, playing in the cat dish, has his own food on the front of his shirt now and all over his face. You decide the most efficient thing to do is to grab a handiwipe for the face and a vest to throw over the stained shirt (you grab an extra shirt, just in case). You notice that your husband has on two shades of green that clash so you tell him “That clashes!” and he says “No it doesn’t” and you calmly say “ Yes, honey, it does.” So you both quickly change your entire outfits so at the very least the two of you will still “match” for the portrait. All this happens, even after planning out the entire wardrobe for the family the night before. What happened? I was so organized and had a plan.

Well, you may be saying “That’s not our family.” If you can’t relate with any of the above, you may want to do another search or hit the back key to find whatever information you started looking for. But, if you can relate, and you’ve experienced similar family life situations, then keep on reading . . .

My point in all of this: Life is hectic at times, but it doesn’t have to rule our hearts, thoughts and actions. Stress will happen, but do we let it control us? This is one personal family situation that I share with you because it was a landmark in my life that started me down a path to change some things. Obviously, planning ahead always helps, but sometimes even when we plan ahead, things fall apart. The key is how you react or respond in those “fall apart” situations.

I believe that you can take charge of your life and be the family you want to be.

What’s a typical day like in your family?

Paint a picture of your family with words (or, if you’re a visual person, go ahead and get the crayons out :)

Is it . . . full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness? Is it purposeful, organized, unified, a force that cannot be stopped.

OR is it . . . full of anxiety, uncertainty, bitterness, fighting. It is hurried, scattered, disorganized, always in a panic, everyone going their own separate ways with no sense of “family” as we know it should be?

Whatever you want it to be, you have the power to make it so. So, start today, by choosing a good attitude even in the midst of difficult circumstances. It will make a difference in your family.

We could talk about family routines, family social events, family chores, family relationships . . . we could go on and on about the family. And that’s what this article and subsequent articles intend to do. Talk about family life issues — not from a professional perspective, not from a medical practitioner perspective or a psychologist’s perspective, but simply from one woman’s perspective – a wife, and mother of three, who works outside the home, and spends time in ministry at her church. The perspective I’m interested in sharing is not intended to replace advice given by doctors or lawyers or counselors . . . it’s intended to reach out and relate with you, to provide support and understanding, to help with practical living, to network you with people or resources in areas of interest, to provide a real-life example of a woman being strengthened spiritually, emotionally, and physically and to help others be strengthened similarly.

Andrea Simanson is a wife and mother of three children, and the website and ezine editor of Successful Family Chores – Putting FUN and ENERGY into everyday tasks.
For a regular dose of family organizational ideas, sign up for Successful Family Chores free bi-monthly newsletter by clicking here.

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