When my husband was growing up, he would often express his desire to be a police officer, to which his mother would respond that that was not for him.  It was “for some other mother’s son”.  My mother-in-law was not being a snob; she was simply stating that it was fine for other mother’s children to risk their lives protecting the peace and enforcing laws.  Hers would have to find employment in some other, safer discipline.  Fine for others; not for hers.

Last night, I was staring up at the bulletin board above my crafting area, a sort of proto-Pinterest where I pin magazine clippings, googly eyes, bias tape, a target from our trip to the shooting range, a Gilbert & Sullivan parody Mr. Apron wrote me for my birthday last year, the wedding announcement I placed in my alumni journal, the prototype of the card we used to announce our impending twin-parenthood:

and vestiges of our Valentine’s Day cards. I spied our first photo card:

The felt reindeer from 2011’s highly successful Christmas letter parody:

And this year’s card:

We didn’t get a chance to photograph our babies a la Anne Geddes when they were in their slug stage, when we could pose them just so, and they would sleep through the entire experience.  I hadn’t done any research into the cost or the logistics or the props for such arrangements, but I wanted these images for posterity, for baby books, for Facebook.  I wanted to be able to smile at the cherubs years later, and forget all the insanity of the first few weeks.

Unfortunately, with twins, the insanity of the first few weeks overtook us, and we never made it to the portrait studio, and the photographer never made it to us.  We couldn’t remember to eat, let alone coordinate baby photo shoots.  We were at the doctor for weight checks, the hospital for blood draws, and working so hard on establishing successful breastfeeding – round the clock – that it just never happened.

The only professional photo of my family sits of my mantle.  It was part of a fundraiser for my family’s synagogue, and it probably dates from 1989.  My hair has not been brushed in weeks, my father looks ever slightly stunned, my brother’s eyes dilate as if  stoned, and my baby sister, primped like a real-life doll, has her lips pursed, sucking on an M&M.  It was the only way to shut her up.  My mother looks pretty good, actually.  I think she’s the only one who wanted the photo taken.  My family of origin was not meant for photo studio shots, that much is clear.

But my children?  How awkward could some newborn photos be?  All I wanted was to scour Etsy for some coordinating hats and to capture something like this:

Is that so wrong?

Okay, so maybe posing them like they’re humping each other is less than ideal:

And this is a little creepy:

But still, is it so wrong to want this?

But we missed that opportunity.  A kind friend listened to me lamenting as I bemoaned missing the window for “slug-phase” photos, and she suggested we do it now.  They took their son for many photo shoots in his first year, and have a veritable catalogue of beautiful memories.  It’s not like my six-month-olds aren’t cute.  They’re still years from their awkward phase.

But as I sat staring up at this year’s Valentine, I was reminded of the tremendous feat it took to pull off the photo shoot on our couch.  We took forever to birth a concept, then had to scour and create props, “design” make-up, and call in a dear friend (who fortunately understands we’re not quite right in the heads) to take the pictures.  Doing some quick figuring, I reasoned that if Valentine’s Day is mid-February, we had managed to take the pictures perhaps mid-January, when our slugs were about a month old.

Staring up at the bulletin board last night — that was when I realized that our White Trash Valentine (or Married…with Children, or North Country, or Trailer Trash) was our newborn photo shoot.  Our little slugs — clothed only in their diapers, cuddled up against a mother wearing too much mascara, a father puffing on a fake cigarette, and surrounded by cheez doodles, a TV dinner, and fake cans of Budweiser — had had their moment.  We made a decision to shoot that Valentine against all odds.  In spite of not knowing which day it was, which feeding we were on, and which end of the baby was more volatile at any given moment, we managed to coordinate our annual Valentine, and mail it out to 100 of our closest friends.  That we didn’t do the same for an Anne Geddes-style session speaks to our true nature.

Those photos are for some other mother’s twins.

Advertisements