It's the pumpkin patch dilemma. Everyone is dressed in their sweaters and plaids and boots, parents are following their children around asking them to "just please look at the camera!" "Just smile nicely!"
The children run from pumpkin to pumpkin declaring each one to be the best. They see the glory of the big orange balls, the autumn light glinting off the pumpkins, the corn maze holds mystery to their imagination.
The adults check their watches or their phones, getting caught up in a text conversation.
"Hurry, hurry, haven't you picked one out yet?"
They drag the pumpkins to get weighed and then load the children in the car to cries of 'but we weren't finished yet.'
The pumpkin sits on the front porch steps, maybe with a carved face or not. The pictures are liked and commented on, 'oh my goodness, your kids are SO cute!'
And everyone moves on.
Pie is made with canned filling from the store or a ready-made pie is picked out from the bakery section. And it's eaten and for the most part enjoyed. I'm not judging here, this was the way we danced on Thanksgiving weekend. And it was good.
It struck me this weekend when we were out at the pumpkin patch, the great extent we go to make memories and to capture everything and then to share it, as if the capturing and sharing make it more real. Parents chasing their children around, bribing their children for pictures when all the children want to do is run and delight in the pumpkins. Minus the bribing part, that was me. It wasn't the perfect pumpkin picking that I wanted, and it wasn't just the children who were being fussy and grumpy.
Sometimes, its better to just let the littles set the pace, to follow them around the pumpkin patch, marveling at how they walk, noticing what they notice. Sometimes it's better to not care so much about capturing the perfect picture but to make the perfect memory. Sometimes it means picking out a knobby pumpkin and hefting into the stroller for the ride home. Sometimes it means not being perfect and not being all cutesy and not having any of those pictures to share. Sometimes the only pictures are of everyone being distracted and looking the other way but sometimes there's the one magical picture of sunlight and autumn and life. Real life just like you live it everyday, captured just how you are right then.
And that's really okay. And that's really real. And that's really beautiful.