Last June, the last day of school and a week before Father’s Day, one of my blogging friends posted photos of the Father’s Day book she’d created. It was stunning, perfect. I had to make one for own lovely husband and clicked straight through to Shutterfly.
Gulp. Last day to submit.
So with all the last-day-of-school craziness and at least 35 kids hurtling through the house I threw photos from my computer onto a template and hit SUBMIT.
When the book arrived a week later in all it’s spiffy Shutterfly glory I paged through it and cried.
The last few years as a mother have broken me down. I’ve struggled with Mary, I’ve struggled with the sheer number of people in my house, struggled to get dinner on the table every night. Thinking I could help with our mortgage payment, I started an online store. Running the store shredded my already-faltering self-esteem and made me feel like THE WORST MOTHER ON EARTH. I’d sold the store just a few weeks before but I’d feared that my family was already ruined.
But here was this book in front of me–children laughing, birthday parties, Easter, reading together, washing the car–and clearly, our life was/is beautiful. The past years HADN’T been wasted. And yeah, Erik liked it too.
A few days later Shutterfly sent me an email saying they’d noticed the book in production and wanted to feature it in their online gallery. Sure, thanks, flattering.
I set about rebuilding my life and thought nothing of it.
Now you may have noticed I’m kinda into photography(ironically my store had forced me to improve at it). And my cute little Canon Rebel(bless it’s little megapixels) simply can’t keep up with the images I want to create. So Erik, very reasonably, said, “Start charging people; earn your camera.”
Rational, yes, but I was still shell-shocked from my last business. I wanted to enjoy my children, photograph the people and places I loved. And while I am endlessly grateful to the people who did hire me(esp. you Melinda!) I certainly wasn’t ready to promote myself, start a website etc.
Then one morning in July, I opened an email that said,”Shutterfly would like to buy the publishing rights to your ‘celebrate everyday’ book.”
I cried again. After weeks of interviews, negotiations on publishing and online rights(mostly me saying, “uh, huh. uh, huh.”) and an 8″ stack of paperwork they sent me a check for $3000.
Yep, just enough for a spiffy new camera.
Here’s the interesting thing–and possibly the point to this whole longwinded story– when I spoke to the Shutterfly people(and I spoke to several) each one commented, “We loved your book because it felt so ordinary.”
Because ordinary is beautiful. And even when we are struggling beauty is all around us.
You can do a Google search and find 81,500,000 better photographers than me in .13 seconds, so I know this is not about my skills. But it is a small miracle, a tender mercy and a reminder that none us knows the good waiting for us just around the corner.