The "Faire-Part" Photo-Shoot from Hell

I will post more photos of our antique purchases tomorrow, but there happens to be a more pressing post at hand.

I have discovered that here in France people distribute birth announcements of their newly born children (calledfaire-parts“) days after they are born. I find this deeply disturbing.

How can they possibly have their act together enough to decide on a layout, write up the text, place and order with the printers, etc. etc. with a really new newborn at home?

This is one of those things that makes me feel like everyone has colluded to leave me out of some important secret society that holds the key to prompt birth announcements. An alternative explanation could be that I am an inferior mother. I decide to go with the former.

I can’t even blame my tardiness on having other kids at home. My friend Charlotte’s daughter Mahault is her fourth child and she had her husband handing out birth announcements at school before she was even out of the hospital. Also, the embarrassing truth is that from the photos on them I would estimate that for my big girls’ birth announcements Charlotte was about three months old and Camille closer to five months by the time I handed them out.

So in a nod to my adopted French culture (not to mention to set a personal record for speediness) I made a herculean effort yesterday morning to take a decent photo of my three girls for Clémentines’s birth announcement, in hopes of distributing it before she hits the two month mark.

In retrospect, I now know why my subconscious had been procrastinating.

Imagine this: get all three girls bathed and dressed in pretty clothes, nix the ballet outfit for Camille but capitulate over strange purple cone-like Merlin’s hat to go with her fairy outfit, find crown for Charlotte, jiggle Clem because she has started to cry, twist big crown into smaller one to fit Clem’s tiny head, find camera, find camera card buried under piles of flotsam on Franck’s desk, find suitable spot on couch with decent light, jiggle Clem because she is crying harder now, sit down two big girls and then plop Clem between them…


Merde. Clémentine crying really hard now. Pick her up and jiggle her in one arm while trying to frame perfect shot with camera in other hand. Really start to sweat now. Belatedly realize that fleece dressing gown is not the ideal outfit for such an ambitious endeavour. Find soother. Pop in Clem’s mouth (will worry about orthodontic issues later). She calms down again. Plop her between big girls. Focus camera with one hand and very gently take soother out of Clem’s mouth with the other.

Crap. Didn’t press the shutter fast enough. Realize with sense of impending doom that I will have about a millisecond between time I extract soother and time Clem starts screaming. Really sweating now. Wish I had worn light linen shift in style of Annie Leibowitz or perhaps no clothes at all. Feel impending hyperventilation event coming on. Remind self to breathe. Breathe. Try again.

CHARLOTTE AND CAMILLE! LOOK AT THE CAMERA! AT THE CAMERA! NOT THE FLOOR!!! Am shouting like a special forces’ Drill Sergeant. Consider possibility that maybe girls will not have particularly fond memories of this special mother-daughter bonding activity. Oh well. Will pony up money for psychotherapist for the three of them once this #$!&*! birth announcement is completed. Maybe should look into group rate.


Ahhhhhh. Finally. Clem’s crown is a bit whiff-skew and I’ve cut off the top of Camille’s pointy Merlin hat, making it look like she’s wearing a velour purple toque, but it will have to do. I need to take a shower too badly.

I emailed the photo shoot tale of woe to my sister Suzanne yesterday and attached a few photos. She wrote me back this morning.

“Don’t tell anyone else you were sweating because they look like the girls just drifted out of bed, glowing, sweeping and singing while doing light housework, on their way to the couch, where perfect crowns fell from the sky onto their little heads, and the sun broke out to cover their sparkles in sunbeams, while bluebirds burst into song outside! No one need ever know that effort was involved in any way.”

Whoops. Too late.