It’s that time of year. The air is crisp, the smell of pumpkin spice is in the air. The leaves are falling. Jeans and hoodies are fashion staples.

That can only mean one thing: That it’s family-picture season. 

Or, as I like to refer to it: The most awful representation of my mothering, An hour of pure hell, No fun.

I’m not good at family pictures. Like, absolute failure.

The last time my mother-in-law arranged some portraits at JC Penney, I told my son, “Your smile ruined the pictures.” What!?!? Who says that to their kid?

Apparently, I do. But it’s only after a weeks of dread, leading up to days of begging and pleading, only to be topped off with a day of tears (mine and theirs). What can I say, I’m weak. I don’t know anyone who can handle that kind of pressure.

Is it because I’m paying someone to take pictures that I get so freaked out? Is it because the Pinterest boards entitled “Family picture outfits” strike fear into my perfectionist heart?

Or maybe, just maybe, I want my family to sit nicely, smile pretty, and take a good picture. Is that too much to ask? Is it? IS IT?!?!?!?!?!?!

The answer is yes. Yes, it is too much. 

Because my family can not do it. 

Can. Not. Even.

I had hoped that this endeavor would get easier as these precious beings got older, more mature. That has not been the case. My offspring have only become more opinionated, more outspoken, and more disgruntled in this triennial (Because, really, is there enough wine in the world to do this annually?) family affair. 

We had our most recent photo session last week. And I was a disaster. I was speaking through gritted teeth. I grounded my oldest for the rest of middle school. I couldn’t handle human interaction for two days afterwards, I was so exhausted.

I’ll give them another three years before I make them do this again. By then, two of them will be teenagers and hopefully I will have let go of the family portrait dream of perfection and allow them to wear their athletic apparel. 

Also, I’d like to give a shout out to all the photographers that have to deal with children like mine, and mothers like me. Anyone who can snap a decent picture with a mother snapping at her eye-rolling, long-sighing children deserves all the money they charge!

Judy Daniell

Reader. Writer. Runner. Loser of things. Lover of Grace. Mama to 3 crazy fun boys and wife to an amazing man. PR by day and Social Media by night. She is the editor at and you can find her occasionally blogging at