This photo is my new iphone wallpaper. It's also the photo I e-mailed to our extended family when we got back from our trip to Aruba. I can't stop looking at it - the funny little grin, the dimples, how happy he looks.
They say the camera doesn't lie, but really the camera is just a tool. It doesn't do anything. It doesn't have a perspective. It's the person or people behind the camera and the image and the way it gets processed and used that have the power.
A photo can certainly be deceptive. But if you are honest, a photograph is physical evidence of what you know to be true in your heart.
But, well, here is the truth about our vacation in Aruba:
Liam started throwing up the day before we left. And then he threw up as we drew up to the airport in a taxi (we spent the first half hour at the airport trying to rid the car seat of the delightful smell of toddler vomit!) and he threw up one more time in Aruba.
Luckily, in spite of this inauspicious start, he never seemed truly sick, but combine not feeling 100% well with new surroundings and a different routine and we had a cranky and clingy kid on our hands who was just not his usual self for much of our trip.
Even though we had my parents and sister on hand to provide babysitting whenever we needed it, a vacation with a toddler just isn't as relaxing as, well, a vacation without a toddler, which I imagine is true even when throwing up and not feeling well is not involved.
But this is also the truth about our vacation in Aruba:
We had a great time. Liam got to bond with his grandparents and his aunt who, for geographical reasons, he mostly interacts with via Skype.
Even though the vacation wasn't the most relaxing, I came back refreshed and re-energized, which is one of the things I love about going away.
We also came back with lifelong memories. Ok so some are better enjoyed in retrospect, like the bike ride we decided to take in the midday Aruban sun (and by "we decided" I mean my husband decided!)
But there were also plenty of great moments that we enjoyed in the moment. Liam loved the beach, he loved going in the sea and playing in the sand, and he loved the pool and wading around in the shallow kiddie area. Back at the hotel, he did in fact spend a lot of time happily running around giggling and exploring and playing with various impromptu toys such as the little shampoo bottles. We had a lovely Sunday brunch, a beautiful dinner on the beach and several delicious home-cooked meals.
Are they "true"?
Yes, he's a 17 month old going through what I understand to be very normal toddler meltdowns, clinginess and sleep disruption. He's developing a good frown and when he's mad, he makes it sound like he is being absolutely tortured. (The pool guy who wanted to close the kiddie pool at our resort so he could chlorinate it backed way off when Liam started to make the "I'm going to cry" face and a bunch of women nearby started exclaiming "oh no don't make the baby cry!")
But he is also a happy, confident, laid back, fun loving and independent little guy.
That's the truth that I know in my heart but it sure does help to see it in a photo sometimes.
nyc baby, child and family photographer and architect alethea cheng fitzpatrick is based in brooklyn and specializes in contemporary, natural light portrait artwork and nursery design for your home. view her portfolio of babies, children or families or send her an e-mail here!