The Santa picture that broke me

We’ve all seen those silly Santa pictures and chuckled. I did, too, except I was also relieved that none of my kids behaved that way on Santa’s lap. Getting the perfect picture meant a lot to me. So much so that I would literally break a sweat making sure everyone looked as perfect as possible.

And then my youngest kid totally threw all of my planning out the window.

A month before his second birthday, I sat him on Santa’s lap, and, well … he absolutely was not having it. At all. Not even a little. And after about thirty seconds of absolute embarrassment and horror, something inside my tightly wound body snapped. It broke me. And it made me so much better.

I no longer put a whole lot of stock into catching my kids at their worst. It meant more to me that each picture captured who they were at that particular moment in their lives. My daughter’s kindergarten picture day came exactly three days after she launched herself from the swingset and scraped her chin all to hell. My oldest’s third-grade picture day happened right after his dad shaved his head down to the scalp. My youngest has blessed us with some of the most memorable pictures purely by being his emotive self.

Insider gave me the chance to talk about how that Santa picture broke me and made me better. I now have a deeper appreciation for those snaps that capture authenticity rather than obsessing over the appearance of perfection.

Did you have a moment like this in your parenting journey? I would love to hear about it if you do.