When Flannery was three months old I decided to have her picture taken at a local portrait studio. Although we had taken plenty of pictures of our own, I felt the need for professional documentation of the existence of our child. I made an appointment, spent way too much money on an outfit and anxiously waited for our scheduled date and time at the photo studio.
On the morning of the photo shoot I woke up at dawn. I was so desperate for beautiful pictures of my smiling baby that I left nothing to chance. I made sure she was fed, changed and rested before I dressed her and packed her up. As we were getting ready to go I remember thinking that, not only would we return home with fantastic pictures, but the studio would probably ask us if they could use the pictures of our baby for some sort of national advertising campaign because she was that adorable and photogenic. Here she is right before we left the house (note the bib as a pre-emptive strike against drool on her outfit):
We arrived at the studio and were called back into one of the bays where the photos were taken. The photographer arranged some bolsters in a manner that would support a baby in a safe-yet-aesthetically-pleasing way. I gave Flannery a kiss, set her down into her little scene and stepped back.
And she lost it. Without being hungry or tired or having a dirty diaper she went from zero to hysterical as spectacularly as a three month old infant possibly can. With no obvious provocation, her face turned red, her tiny limbs flailed angrily in the air and she screamed as if she was being attacked by a swarm of wasps.
I was horrified. I rocked her, stroked her and offered to buy her a pony when she started kindergaten, but nothing would calm her down. It was one of the first times I learned one of the most important lessons of parenting: planning doesn't matter; my own wishes don't matter and clinging to them will only make me sad. However, in that moment I couldn't acknowledge this and my own eyes teared up in frustration.
The photographer observed Flannery was more calm when I was holding her and suggested that she take a picture with both of us. Clad in a spit-up stained T shirt and fat jeans, I was not feeling photogenic. The photographer and I both turned toward The Mister who obliged. He picked up Flannery, calmed her and smiled.
We purchased the photo because it was hard fought and won. When I first saw it, I remember thinking Flannery looked like an angry baby sparrow who was denied her worms. Today, it is one of my favorite pictures of Flannery and The Mister. I still think Flannery looks mad, but seven years later her expression makes me smile. What really makes the picture for me is The Mister and how obviously and wholeheartedly he loves his little girl. It is one small piece of evidence of the kind of father he is to both of our daughters.
Photo by Portrait Innovations, 2006