The Perfect Picture

{Alternative title: I took 1,973 pictures of my kids & all I got was this lousy blog post}

From the moment we stepped foot in the car for the 8 hour drive north, I commenced my mission: To take the perfect picture of all three of my children, in one frame. Looking at the camera. Not a cheesy posed shot, but a natural photograph capturing their true personalities. Admittedly, I was a tad obnoxious in my efforts, but what better place to capture this moment in time than the beach? Beautiful backdrops, sun-kissed children, sunsets galore… I was going to get it, and it was going to be perfect.

For two weeks I gave it my all. I bribed them, only to have my props eaten mid-shot.


I pleaded with them to look at me, only to be blatantly ignored.


And even worse, I had them simply turn their backs on me and walk away.


They gave me smiles so fake I had to cringe,


and crawled out of the holes I set them in.


I joined in to tickle them into smiles,


But still, had nothing.

Then came the last night of our trip. The night that Evan pulled off his diaper and proceeded to run around the yard wearing only a shirt. Too lazy to get a new one, I momentarily forgot about my mission. I half hazardly captured a few shots, not paying attention to his lack of bottoms.

Later that night, when I reviewed my pictures, I discovered something horrible. Something unthinkable: I had captured the impossible– the perfect photo, featuring Ben, Lily, Evan. All looking at the camera, acting like serene versions of themselves, surrounded by glowing light.


Except for one tiny little thing…

perfect picture

It totally serves me right.

About the writer


In addition to being the founder of all things Scary Mommy, Jill is also the New York Times bestselling author of Simon and Schuster’s Confessions of A Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies)

From Around the Web


Nicolle 3 years ago

I think the first picture is perfection. The story is great, but you nailed it with the first one! :)

gwynn 3 years ago

Hi, Very cute and soo typical!! The trick is to make their motive for cooperating their idea or use a diversion:

Say OK everyone, lets take a silly/crazy/monkeyface/whacky photo… get as silly as you can (gets the sillies out and they love to look at their funny faces). Ok SCARY FACE!! Ok smiling face. Ok angry face, smiling face. Then be sure to share them with the kids right there for immediate gratification.. THey will love the funny pics so much that you will be able to use this as bait for cooperation for ‘nice smiling faces’. It’s good to give them their choice (crazy face picture) first, because you are role modeling what it is you want from them and because it gets it out of their system!

Another is to say, ‘look at the monkey inside the camera.. can you see it..even though they and we all know, there’s no monkey.. the humor in this sometimes entices their cooperation.

Remember when they are little, the more you pressure or impress them to do something you really want badly, the less they will be inclined to cooperate, because they enjoy the sense of power they have and they naturally want to exercise this power. There are ways to give them that sense of power with in your limits. Such as diaper changing (to a fitfull child who hates this..). You give the child the heads up of what’s about to come, delay for a few minutes, then come back when its time. But before you take him, while he’s bucking about it, you tell him, ok time for diaper change (end result (your decision)), but you give him the power with which way HE wants to go about it… “do you want to put your toy down so YOU can walk to the diaper table, or do you want me to help you and take you there?” Balls in his court, he knows he has the power to decide or not and he will also not fight you as hard because he had choices. No decision becomes your decision and you pick him up.

Sorry, I’ll get off my soap box now.. These ideas have helped me time and again. Happy Parenting! (sorry about my lazy grammar.. I’m soo busy, that I really should not be taking the time) 😀

dtt 3 years ago

I thought they all looked perfect. Beautifull kids.

smyke 3 years ago

Absolutely tooooo funny…I also am glad my mouthful of coffee went down just prior to scrolling to the last shot! Your kids are adorable and you capture in pictures and words the moments sooooo many of us struggle with trying to be a perfect mom who always gets the perfect shot! Thanks for the laugh and helping us lighten up with a much needed giggle!

Kristen Mae 3 years ago

Laughing my ass off. Couldn’t use the acronym, had to write it out; that’s how serious I am.

Two words for this photo: Photo. Shop.

Nevermind. Just leave it with the little yellow smiley face covering up the naughty bits. :) Isn’t it an appropriate metaphor for life?

Andrea 3 years ago

What a great and hilarious post! It’s so true about the “least expect it” moments.

Kathy V. 3 years ago

Oh, Holy Hilarious, Batman! I think you should frame that last one, complete with the smiley face. IT’S PERFECT.

Kerry :) 3 years ago

ROTFFLMFAO!!!! THAT made my day!!!

DG 3 years ago

They are ALL perfect pics!! I love them! Even the naked one…..there is some sort of future blackmail that crossed my mind when I saw it….

Natalie 3 years ago

i think you got exactly what you were hoping for! This Picture captures their personalities perfectly. it may not be something to send out as a Christmas card, but it does showcase exactly who your children are today. great pic.

Lynn 3 years ago

Love it!!! My most favorite picture of my kids is actually one of just the older two, when the youngest was about 6m and the oldest 2 1/2. They’re laying on my bed and both of them are cracking up over some private joke. The best shots always seem to be those candid ones–even if someone happens to be naked! LOL

Jean 3 years ago

You’ve captured your kids as they are, and that’s what you’ll look back at & remember. I have 5 kids & getting them all to take the “perfect” shot without someone having someone else in a headlock or making bunny ears is darn near impossible!

Kimberly 3 years ago

LOVE it. This is the imperfect life, isn’t it? We need those subtle (or not so subtle) reminders that life isn’t perfect…and doesn’t need to be to find joy!

Kim 3 years ago

That is hilarious! But I think it’s a better picture because of it!!! Thanks for the laugh!
My Twintastic Life

Heidi Bryan 3 years ago

Literally giggling and choking on my coffee…only because I have SO done the same thing. I have had many a photo that I was unable to publish due one or both of my children being partially naked. PS it is a great photo :)

Sarah 3 years ago


And of course.

Catherine S 3 years ago

They all look perfect to me. Great shots that you’ll treasure forever.
We have 4 boys. Trying to get them to look in one direction at a time, much less in the the direction of the camera is damned near impossible. Then when they do look, one of them is making some awful grimace. Or picking their nose.

Carolyn 3 years ago

Oh I love this.
I’ve got tons of photos of backs, goofy grins, tears, etc. because I figure, that’s who they were at the time.
But every once in awhile I get a “perfect” shot, and I’m good for about…. a day :)
Bribes still work here, I’m lucky.

heidi 4 years ago

OMG this is HILARIOUS and soooo true!! My daughter (age 11) will pose for hours with the perfect smile and my (4 year old) son will have none of it. I’m lucky to get an 1 OK photo out of 100. I agree, photoshop some pants on him- scootch the other boy alittle closer and you’re golden. :)

Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation 4 years ago

This? Is fucking hysterical. I love the little smiley face!

Blissful Babe 4 years ago

Oh. I am DYIN’ ovah heah!! That is so stinking RAD. I just love it.

Barefoot Liz 4 years ago

I was thinking it was a perfect shot until my eyes found the smiley face. Oh my goodness, that is priceless! Love the first photo!

Jessica E. 4 years ago

Lol, you get what you ask for. This is too funny.

Wendy 4 years ago

Oh and I think the first one with the suckers is very perfect.

Wendy 4 years ago

I know this is old but I happened across it, and I laughed so fucking hard! It’s so good to know I’m not the only mom who has a kid who runs around half naked! Thank God for you, Jill. lol

LostThePlot 4 years ago

Oh this gave me a good laugh. I needed that, thank you! And what gorgeous kid’s too.

Hands Free Mama 5 years ago

This is purely delightful! A beautiful picture indeed! I am slowly learning that the best things in life happen when they are unplanned (and for an obsessive planner extraordinaire, letting things simply “be” is not an easy task…especially when it comes to photographing my two daughters). Thank you for reminding me to find joy in the unexpected and the unplanned.

Jan 5 years ago

Truly, the best post EVER! I laughed out loud for 10 minutes!!

JekachkaY 5 years ago

This is the best foto, that I ever see!!!!

Warren Kratzer 5 years ago

All those Pics. are great :o)

gramma 5 years ago

Try getting any picture of 8 kids, much less the perfect one!! Now I have six grandkids I’m trying to capture on film! You did a great job and you have beautiful children!

Holly 5 years ago

I love it! That is a gorgeous photo, even with the censoring. The lighting is amazing.

Staci 5 years ago

Hands down, best post I’ve ever read in my life.
Now, you could have made the smiley face a little larger, I mean, give the kid a complex why don’t you? Itty, bitty teeny weeny………….poor Evan!

Amy 5 years ago

This is just fantastic. LOVE LOVE LOVE the censor smiley face ! Last holiday season, we took over 400 pictures of my son to be put on the holiday card. The best one of him……he looks a cheesy, Jewish ( I am Jewish) car salesman. I wish I could attach the photo.

Jenifer 5 years ago

HANDS DOWN my all time favoritest post of yours! Haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!!

Maija @ Maija’s Mommy Moments 5 years ago

I love it! My 3 children are the same. My son is the worst though. I have beautiful pictures on my daughters and some fabulous pictures of the back of my son’s head. Good luck as your mission continues.

JoeyfromSC 5 years ago

hahahaha!! this is hilarious!! cute kids btw..Just found your awesome blog! love the “virtual tattoo” and will be putting one on my blog:) I love your layout and everything!!

I will be back to visit again and read’re a funny lady! lol

Rebekah C 5 years ago

Hahaha!! That’s wonderful! GREAT candid shot!

Sandra 5 years ago

To sweet! =)

cheryl 5 years ago

Thank you for the laughs! 😉 Beautiful photo. And from the looks of that little guy’s smile he seems to think he has one over on you!

Lindsey 5 years ago

I added this post as one of my fav blog posts this week.

Gabby 5 years ago

This is fabulous!! Love the “moment” 😉 Photoshop anyone?

Cynthia 5 years ago

LOL!!! This is probably the best blog post I’ve read in about two years. Not coincidentally, my twins will turn 2 this month.

Your Mommy Friend Lori 5 years ago

I think I just peed my pants, awesome.
.-= Your Mommy Friend Lori´s last blog ..The First Time =-.

Lindsey 5 years ago

I LOVE it!
.-= Lindsey´s last blog ..Facing Yourself – A Journey to Oceans =-.

Boston Bob 5 years ago

That’s a beautiful shot! Our Christmas picture this year ended up being a collage of outtakes. With “Two under Two”, we couldn’t get a single good shot, even with leftover Halloween candy to bribe them.

Jennifer Sanderson 5 years ago

I really did LOL! So typical!!!!

Allison 5 years ago

This cracked me up! Awesome post. No wonder it’s your favorite. Perfect.
.-= Allison´s last blog ..Sorry, Nana (A Self-Pitying Diatribe) =-.

SaucyB 5 years ago

LOL. oh that’s too funny. A valiant effort! you have a beautiful family.

Joanna 5 years ago

holy shit, that is the most hilarious post ever. Thank you for “re-posting” this for us that weren’t readers back then!
.-= Joanna´s last blog ..While we’re not blogging… =-.

Melissa 5 years ago

That is the funniest story ever… and I absolutely love the finally picture, plus some pants of course! Maybe you can doctor the picture up some how!! lol

Nic 5 years ago


Your kids are amazing :)
.-= Nic´s last blog ..Iron Man 2 (2010) =-.

Amy Hodges 5 years ago

Maybe you could photo shop in a pair of shorts…hmmm, it just might work.

Amber 5 years ago

I’m still laughing…holy shit that’s funny! I have two fussy toddlers (yes, I’m avoiding them by being on the computer instead of tending to their every need) and it’s POURING outside…so thanks for the laugh!

Amanda Lickers 5 years ago

Lol dont you hate that? Like an idiot i always take pictures of my 2 year old in the tub especially after he’s ate a big bowl of raviolis n is covered of sauce n bubbles n he’ll have SUCH a sweet smile holding his robot i just want to send them all out… but then i see his pecker under the water… ah well , very nice pic you got of your kids!

Becky 5 years ago

Love it!

Susie @newdaynewlesson 6 years ago

My family wanted to know why I was snorting out loud reading this one! So good! (you do know there is photoshop to add some shorts onto him right?
.-= Susie @newdaynewlesson´s last blog ..When You Are Authentic & Open, Others Will Open Up To You =-.

Melissa 6 years ago

I cannot stop laughing. Holy crap. Thanks for helping me burn a few extra calories tonight.
.-= Melissa´s last blog ..Reaching Blogging Milestones: My first Guest Post =-.

beke 6 years ago

That is seriously HILARIOUS! I am also an obsesive picture taker. You do have some amazing pics of those kiddos. Who by the way are truly adorable. My favorite pictures of two of my boys happen to be pictures of them crying. Something about them just I dunno tugs at my heart in a way that a smiley picture never could.

Paula 6 years ago

Just found you and OMG….I’m sitting here in the dark, at 11pm, drinking a glass of wine and almost spit it on my computer screen! That was too funny!!!!

Michelle @ Italian Mama Chef 6 years ago

That picture is hilariously cute. I love the smiley graphic you added. When my guys were little, we had these stick on bath toys and one was a sun with rays. One day I stuck it over the same spot as the smiley on your little guy on my little guy and snapped the most adorable photo. Now that he is 13 he does not appreciate that picture.
.-= Michelle @ Italian Mama Chef´s last blog ..Compliments and accolades =-.

Michelle 6 years ago

I’m not sure how I stumbled across your blog, but this may be my favorite blog post ever! That picture is just too precious, although I’m not sure what little man will think about it when he’s older!

Alisa Shtromberg 6 years ago

Love it! It’s funny one of my fav pics of my son was when he was in the tub naked! I made a similar adjustment.

Mrs.Mayhem 6 years ago

LOVE this post. As a mother of four, I can totally relate. Hilarious.

Mrs.Mayhem’s last blog:
.-= Mrs.Mayhem´s last blog ..You Might Think I’m A Bad Mother After Reading This =-.

Phyllis 6 years ago

HOLY CRAP! I am about to pee my pants!!!!!!! I am laughing out loud, to an empty office, thank god! Thank you for making me see I’m not the only CRAZY mom out there!

Maddy 6 years ago

That is hilarious, it totally made my day. You have a beautiful family. I love reading you!

Peggy 6 years ago

Oh my goodness!!!! This cracks me up! The look on their faces are totally innocent as well…I have to share this with my husband when he gets home from work!!!!!!

LOL!!! 😀
.-= Peggy´s last blog ..Wisdom of the Aged =-.

juliea 6 years ago

that is good shit right there. HAHAHAA.

pru 6 years ago

brilliant! you actually did have me laughing out loud!!

Mandy 6 years ago

This was so funny. I only have one kid, but trying to get a great picture of a 3 yr old boy sitting still is my life’s challenge. Great post, and beautiful pictures.
.-= Mandy´s last blog ..Oh Holy Day =-.

Terri 6 years ago

OMG. That is great! I love it. Typical of what would happen to me!

WackyMummy 6 years ago

Very nice. 😉
.-= WackyMummy´s last blog ..Scenes From My Week =-.

Karen MEG 6 years ago

Gorgeous photos, I especially love the one of you with them on the beach. And the smiley face a close second :)
.-= Karen MEG´s last blog ..A Year in the Life of … =-.

Karen 6 years ago

That picture made me snort Diet Coke. Do you know how bad that hurts??

I thought the first picture with the giant lollipops was a beautiful shot. They are all cool shots, really. You have beautiful children!

Hope you had a great holiday!
.-= Karen´s last blog ..The Best Christmas Gift =-.

Nikki 6 years ago

LOL! Awww well at least you got a shot of all of them smiling!! Maybe you could photoshop in a diaper on him? I know photoshop can do some pretty amazing things. You have such a beautiful family:) thanks for posting! Stopped by from SITS to say hi!

BLOGitse 6 years ago

Perfect! LOL!
Kids are amazing! so natural… :)
.-= BLOGitse´s last blog ..happy holidays! I have a FREE gift for you… =-.

dysfunctional mom 6 years ago

Hang a stocking on *it* and it’s a perfect Christmas photo!

Linda- Kitchen Therapy 6 years ago

This is so funny I belly laughed! And called my husband in to see it too. Ah, the joys of motherhood.

Rebecca (Ramblings by Reba) 6 years ago


Anthony 6 years ago

Wow, that really is a great post. Thanks for leading me here!
.-= Anthony´s last blog ..Being Genuine and More On Asking Questions =-.

jill 6 years ago

You entirely captured my joy, frustration, irritation, and life all in this one perfect post.

My husband goes ape sh** whenever I attempt to take “the yearly holiday photo”… in those 30 minutes we threaten divorce 4200 times.

thegypsymama 6 years ago

This is classic. I had a similar experience a couple weeks ago – I caught my son’s puke in my hands in between otherwise “picture perfect” family photos. Yea, it was a grand moment.

PS: I’m in the DC area as well – how awesome is the weather this weekend? It’s like we’ve been teleported back to MI for the day.

Aimee @ Ain’t Yo Mama’s Blog 6 years ago


It doesn’t get much better than this post. I love it.

.-= Aimee @ Ain’t Yo Mama’s Blog´s last blog ..Mental Monday: My Kid Was Suspended for Bullying? I’m On The Case. =-.

Kim @ Cheap Chic Home 6 years ago

How funny!
.-= Kim @ Cheap Chic Home´s last blog ..Merry SITSmas! =-.

RockerByebaby 6 years ago

this made me laugh so hard… and so real that i got tears in my eyes.

submom 6 years ago

Classic! I wonder whether you are using it for the holiday cards?…
.-= submom´s last blog ..Hello, December! =-.

Hollywood Farm 6 years ago

Forwarded this to like 800 friends of mine.
Some thanked me for the laugh as their day is sucking.
.-= Hollywood Farm´s last blog ..Oh Boy, I just Gave My Son A Spock Hair Cut =-.

Kat 6 years ago

LOL that’s funny. So appropriate in the way life likes to interact with us. But very, very funny.
.-= Kat´s last blog ..My House is a Mess =-.

missy luce 6 years ago

I have tears streaming out of my eyes . . .

Joanna Botelho 6 years ago

Fabulous pictures! The inventor of digital cameras…. a genius…I have three kids as well…I know how many pictures you need to take for that one perfect shot …. then you realize the not perfect ones are the greatest!

SavvyMom 6 years ago

Love this! It is a beautiful picture, little “oops!” and all. And now you have the perfect blackmail item to ensure he never arrives home past curfew as a teenager!
.-= SavvyMom´s last blog ..Is Stranger Danger Real? =-.

Janis @ SneakPeek 6 years ago

OMG. Perfect!!!
.-= Janis @ SneakPeek´s last blog ..A Thousand Words Thursday – You’re My Hero! =-.

Christine 6 years ago

You’re my new favorite blogger. This post made me clap out loud!!!!
I’m going to share it with all my mommy friends. Keep up the good work!
Fellow mommy Christine

Mama Cas 6 years ago

AH! That’s FANTASTIC! Can you photoshop some pants on him?

Ruth 6 years ago

The photos were fantastic. Wow you are so close to your children. I think their eyes tell you what a great mom you are :)


Entertainment & Fun For Fat Loss People

Sandy M 6 years ago

I laughed til I snorted and then my hubs came in and looked and laughed, which is good, as he is very sick. Thanks for making our day with your beautiful children’s photos.

KristenDascoli 6 years ago

That was a GREAT post and a great laugh. Thank you so, so much.

Stephanie 6 years ago

I love this. It is a perfect. Motherhood. Not for the faint hearted.

Kekibird 6 years ago

OH SH*T!! That made me snort out loud in my office….too funny!


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