Portraits and Paint Chips

By Kelly

If all goes according to plan, this morning I will take Teyla to get her picture taken at Target Portrait Studios. It will be her first foray into the world of professional photography.

She is one.

Do I even need to say that she is my third baby?

Natalie, my oldest, had her picture taken every three months on cue, in addition to special occasions and those days I thought she looked particularly cute. I decorated my house with her many portraits. Each wall was a panorama. “Natalie: 3 Months.” “Natalie: 6 Months.” “Natalie: Valentine’s Day.” “Natalie: Wearing Sunglasses.”

When Connor came along two years later, I struggled to keep up with the pre-ordained portrait studio schedule. His six-month pictures weren’t taken until he was six months and one week. (Quelle horreur.) I was vaguely chagrined but determined not to fall victim to the multiple child syndrome.

And then came Teyla. Connor was four when she was born, Natalie was six. No longer just a mom to preschoolers, I was learning the rhythms of a school-aged child. I was straddling two worlds, learning to balance my older children’s activities with the demands of a newborn.

I didn’t even think about documenting Teyla’s stages for posterity. I felt lucky just to survive them.

I remember, when I was a teenager, overhearing my Mom and her friends talk about the trickle down economics of multiple children. They laughed as they talked about the special privileges afforded their first, the lavish attention and care. And then, they commiserated, came the second baby, and everything went downhill.

“I filled in Kelly’s baby book religiously,” my Mom groaned. “Michael’s has a few dates in it. Emily’s is empty. And Jonathan doesn’t even have one.” Her friends laughed in guilty simpatico.

I stood to the side, both appreciative and aghast. I understood that there are so many hours in a day, and surely, the more kids you have, the more your time is split. But such apparent neglect baffled me. Wouldn’t my younger siblings feel slighted by their empty baby books? Wouldn’t they wonder if they were as loved, as wanted, as special?

But now, as a mom myself, I understand. My relationship with each of my children is equal in potency but not equal in appearance. I think of it like a handful of paint chip cards. My children may be different colors, but they are all at the same saturation level.

Natalie is my firstborn. Everything she does amazes me. She is the sunniest yellow, a window open to the world.

Connor is my boy. He is completely other. He stands in contrast to Natalie and to my femaleness. He is aquamarine blue, bright and inquisitive and mischievious.

And Teyla? Well, Teyla is my delight. By the time she was born, I was ready, nay, eager for another baby. Because of her siblings, I know what’s in store for me – and I’m ready to soak it in. Because she is her own person, I get the delight of discovering someone completely new. And already, I can see that she’s fire engine red, curious and joyful and strong.

So she might not have a bunch of portraits in her scrapbook (Oy! What scrapbook?) when she’s older. But I hope she knows that I’m enjoying her babyhood more than her siblings. Such is the gift of being the third baby.

And … I just heard someone throw up upstairs. Sounds like an aquamarine. Guess we won’t be making that portrait appointment after all.

Poor third baby. It’s a good thing I have a digital camera.

Kelly also blogs at Love Well, although maybe not today for obvious reasons.

10 Responses to Portraits and Paint Chips
  1. Stephanie
    February 4, 2009 | 12:30 pm

    I know this too well. But do agree that even though they might get less staged photos and baby book entries, my later babies get blogged and also get Me where I think I might actually know what I’m doing this time around.


  2. Lisa
    February 4, 2009 | 3:05 pm

    Kelly, you really hit the nail on the head with this post. I loved it!

    Like your Natalie, my Natalie also has enough professional portraits of herself to open a gallery, while my youngest has almost none. I was a slave to the JCP portrait studio schedule those early years of pareting, I was bound and determined to get my money’s worth out of that club memebership!

    The part I loved about this post was when you said the relationship is equal in potency but not equal in apperance. So true. One look at my youngest’s empty baby book, hand me down jacket without matching gloves and hat, etc. and one would think she is the after thought of the family. But really? She is the luckiest one of all, as I am finally getting the hang of this mothering thing!

  3. Miche
    February 4, 2009 | 3:25 pm

    I just loved this; great analogy!

  4. Rachel
    February 4, 2009 | 5:08 pm

    Great post! I loved it. . . I’m still in the only child stage, where every wall is plastered with pictures of her.

    I was a middle child, and was quite offended as a kid that my brother was all over my baby book but I wasn’t in HIS at all (I had major middle-child syndrome). So I always swore I wouldn’t do that.

    But I’m sure I will.

    Now I can just explain to my middle child that she is a paint chip, and she will nod and say, oh. okay!


  5. Heather of the EO
    February 5, 2009 | 9:15 pm

    So true! Ugh, I shudder to even think about the feelings Asher will have when looking over Miles’ thorough scrapbook and his lack there of.

    I gotta get on that….

    Dang. I know it ain’t happenin’ Who am I kidding? Poor guy.

  6. Sarah
    February 5, 2009 | 10:09 pm

    I love what you said about enjoying the third…it’s so true. By the third baby I’d finally realized just how fast that first year went and I purposed to enjoy it.

  7. Minnesotamom
    February 6, 2009 | 12:40 am

    Anja is the firstborn and her scrapbook remained untouched. I have filled in a few things in her baby book, though–so I’m not a total failure!

  8. Cassie
    February 6, 2009 | 11:27 am

    Print this post out. Put it in Tellys baby book. This is all she will need.

  9. Stephanie'sMommyBrain
    February 6, 2009 | 5:17 pm

    Right there with you. It’s a good thing my boys all look alike. That way they can share all the baby pictures from Boy #1. 🙂

  10. dating disasters
    April 9, 2012 | 1:31 pm

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More here: 5minutesforparenting.com/279/portraits-and-paint-chips/ […]…

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL https://parenting.5minutesformom.com/279/portraits-and-paint-chips/trackback/