It’s May! I cannot believe it is May already.

It is my first day back at work next week (a Keeping In Touch day) and I am saddened by how quickly my maternity leave has flown by.  I know that it is a good sign that it has rushed past me, as that is reassurance that we have been enjoying it, but I am sad that it will come to an end.  Thanks to my wonderful new group of mummy friends, not a day has gone by where I have wondered what to do, or felt lonely.  It has been wonderful. I say ‘has’ but I really mean ‘is’. It IS wonderful.  We are not done yet.  Officially I still have two more months (with the exception of a few KIT days) and I plan to make the most of them.  I am hoping for sunshine and picnics and outdoor pools (if only!)

But anyway, back to this post.  This is a little different to my normal ramblings – it is more of a ‘A Picture Tells a Thousand Words’ type post.  So with it being May, and Instagram being littered with amazing shots of beautiful children in the bluebells, I thought to myself “We can do that.  My children are beautiful!  And I want in on the ‘beautiful bluebell photo’ action.”

With this great idea fresh in my mind, this morning I decided we would do our own bluebell photo shoot and so the morning started with me dragging two reluctant boys, a tired baby and a reluctant & tired daddy, clutching his camera, to the nearest woods.  I am sure there are more plentiful bluebells, in a better setting, elsewhere, but we were going for a minimum effort photo shoot!  And yes, my husband did explain that a lack of sun meant the lighting would be poor, but in my normal ‘act now, think later’ style, we went anyway!

Now these people on Instagram make it look so easy:  soft lighting bouncing off the bright bluebells; innocent and angelic children; natural, beaming smiles. A vision of perfection.

But these photos have left me wondering: ‘Does the photo tell the whole story?’ Is the picture we see really a reflection of the moments before and after? Do the smiles come easily and naturally?  Is life for these people really that idyllic?  Are their children really that well-behaved?

I know many of us will have seen these sort of photos on Instagram and Facebook; the ones that make you envious.  Perhaps it is a sleeping baby, when your baby just screams. Or maybe it is a child showing off a medal they have won, while your child seems to just miss out each time. Or perhaps it is a photo of someone’s dinner, looking like something out of a Michelin-starred restaurant, seen just as you sit down to eat your beans on toast.  These photos can make us feel inferior.  They can make us feel down about the imperfections in our lives.  But I wonder what the true story is behind the apparently perfect picture.

So having posted some of our lovely bluebell photos on Facebook earlier today, and in the spirit of all things honest, I have decided to tell the whole story behind our bluebell photos – warts and all!

And so here it is…our wonderful (or not quite) bluebell photos, complete with the honest commentary!

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As we entered the woods, my boys were threatened with computer and chocolate bans should they not ‘perform’, and told they could not actually play in the woods today, as they were in their best jackets.  We were there for a purpose, a perfect picture purpose, and nothing would get in the way.  What a lovely way to start the experience!

So first we started off with just the bigger boys (while I tried to get Boy 3 out of the carrier!).  And after a few rude words from Dad to get the smiles started (“poo poo head and bum face”) we began with this…

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And then came the smiles, once the giggles had subsided…

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We tried instructing Boy 1 to smile “with his teeth” but were told it was not cool.

Then it was time to bring in Boy 3.  Commence the argument about who would get to hold him…Boy 1 won.  

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Boy 2 sulked (hence the bunny ears).  And then he got over it and started messing about…

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So we went for a quick change of position to get Boy 2 under control and keep him smiling….

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Then Boy 2 had his turn holding the baby, and the grin started to appear…

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…and then the ‘money shot’. (And yes, the baby just about held it together after being passed about like a sack of potatoes!)

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Then it was my turn to join in…

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This is one shot of about ten that were taken in this pose.  I have censored the others.  This was the only one where I didn’t have a double chin!

Next, Boy 1 took a turn with the camera (and Boy 3 started getting the hump!)…

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So off we went in search of a new spot…

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And I found the spot, copped a squat, and enjoyed a hug with my baby boy…

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Meanwhile Boy 1 and Boy 2 ignored our rules about not playing in the woods and ran off to check their geocache…

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We yelled across the woods to them to come back for more photos and eventually they returned.  

Some more shots with me; and my double chin reappeared, together with a not-so-flattering wide shot of me, and a still-not-amused baby.

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But a couple more takes got us to this (a slight improvement but still no smile from the baby!)…

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By now, we were all losing patience, so we thought we would throw the baby around a bit, to raise spirits…

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It worked! He started to enjoy it and we got a lovely fun and natural shot (finally!)…

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Though not quite the family portrait we had in mind.

And then we let Boy 2 have his turn with the camera and the seven-year-old did pretty well…

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But soon Dad got annoyed as Boy 2 started messing around with it…

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So we tried again, with just the boys, to get another Instagram-worthy shot.

First we tried it with the boys holding the baby, but that pose wasn’t very popular…

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So then we sat Boy 3 on the log as well.  This freaked out Boy 1, who screamed that the baby would fall, then Boy 2 yelled in terror, but once we assured them that Boy 3 was safe, we got this (although, in fairness, Boy 3 doesn’t look very safe)…

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So with a few bum shuffles and some slightly better positioning, we were almost there…

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And then we nailed it…

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Our beautiful boys in the bluebells!

So next time you see a photograph on social media that makes you green with envy, that makes you question your chaotic life and wayward children, that makes you weep at your imperfect existence, remember that a picture does paint a thousand words, although not always truthful ones!