When Family Life Doesn't Match Photo Life

The moment started with a whisper.

“Could this day get any worse??”


We were on Spring Break and one of my kids couldn’t deal with spending half of the day playing on the beach, half in the pool AND then being told to shower before dinner.

The first whisper must not have been satisfying, so the next version was louder and came with a stamp of the foot,

“Seriously, could this day get ANY worse?”

I snapped my head around.

This attitude pushed my button in a big way.  I was ready to lose it, and Billy, anticipating my response, pulled the child aside and had a focused conversation about gratitude.

I didn’t tweet, instagram, or otherwise document THAT moment.

The truth is, if you judge the quality of a family’s life based on Spring Break pictures, you are probably getting a distorted impression. When you hang with the same people 24/7 for a week straight, conflicts are inevitable.

Someone is going to want to sleep in while someone else has been in his or her swimsuit since 7 am. One family member likes to sleep in a REALLY cold room and the others enjoy a less artic feel. One person wants to listen to all Taylor Swift, and the other likes Shakira (hypothetically speaking, of course).

These conflicts aren’t problems to be solved, but tensions to be managed.  Differing opinions will always be part of our lives.

Extended time together forces us to PRACTICE getting along.  This is part of building our family “team” and getting to a place of mutual understanding and respect.

I think of it as family boot camp.

During boot camp we have concentrated opportunities to engage in conversations that may not happen routinely.

We talk about patience and flexibility. We review our manners and discuss why swimsuits aren’t appropriate in a restaurant setting. We discuss how to play well with new pool friends. We practice perseverance when learning a new skill. We preach about skin cancer and issue countless reminders to “WALK” around the pool. We work through boredom, frustration, and adventures together.

There are a handful of moments (usually before meal time) where tears flow as attitudes fall apart.  Boot camp is hard work.

And yet, the good, the bad, and the ugly blend into something wonderful; we are bonded.

I included my favorite pictures from our week away (below) because it shows our reality. Everyone is trying to cooperate with me for a picture where the sun is too harsh and the temptation to stick out the tongue is overwhelming.


We try...And we try.And sometimes this is a good as it gets.

Perfectly imperfect.