My Grandma Rea bought my Faith Reanna the darling white cotton dress she’s wearing in the picture above. I loved every square inch of that breezy number, right down to the delicate ruffles and flower eyelets. I couldn’t wait to have Faith’s picture taken in it, either. So one day while her brothers were livin’ it up at Mother’s Day Out, my 10 month old and I trekked down to J.C. Penney’s at the Albuquerque Coronado Mall for a little photo session.
On this particular morning in late March, God dowsed me in grace by shining His good favor on Faith’s disposition. Her mood positively sang, and it showed in her over-the-top adorable pictures. The one above still gives me special delight because her open hand and mouth show an early glimpse of her I-want-to-grab-and-taste-all-life-offers personality. The Penney’s photographer loved it, too, and she ended up hanging this picture on the wall of their studio. Of course that dang near made me sing. Because let’s be honest: what mama doesn’t love confirmation that she ain’t the only one who finds her baby the cutest thing on either side of the Mississippi?
Or at least one of the cutest waltzing through a department store in that desert city.
Not long after when my baby turned into a toddler, any hope for future “gallery perfect” photos ran off with her two-naps-a-day schedule. Oh, but I love the ones that took their place just the same. They were imperfectly perfect, her bold disposition on grander display than any department store studio could hold. Always desperate to keep up with her brothers by running faster than her plump little legs were able, Faith smacked headfirst into more bathtub edges, coffee tables, and concrete sidewalks than I could count. In almost every picture from her toddler years, Faith’s sweet Cindy Lou Who face is accented with a bruised forehead, a swollen lip, or black eyes.
Honestly, I am still in awe that we evaded the attention of Child Protective Services.
But as little ones are prone to do, she didn’t let a tumble or fall slow her down. She would sometimes cry, but she would always hop back up, shake it off, and start running after her brothers again.
Today, ten years beyond her picture in the little cotton dress, what a blast it is to know my daughter’s kaleidoscope personality in full bloom, yet be able to look back and see the early pieces of it peeking through like light through trees. And as much fun as it is to look back at the pictures (and grin at my own silly pride for having a certifiably cute baby), I hope what stands out most is that I gave more attention to framing the girl in those pictures than I gave to the pictures themselves. That I was the kind of mama who held not hid the imperfectly perfect real daughter, not just the gallery-worthy, spiffed-up images. That I was the kind of mama who didn’t demand perfection but rather celebrated God’s expression of Himself through them.
As I look in that rear view mirror, I see moments when I was the frame who loved and supported her children well and others where I got sidetracked. But I also see a mama who isn’t afraid to hop back up, dust off her wobbly intentions and do better with them today.
And tomorrow, too.