Danielle Guenther is a favorite family photographer who works in and around Hoboken, New Jersey. Guenther has been inspired to produce an entire series of photographs, entitled “Best Case Scenario."
These amusing photos depict what it is like to be a parent in the modern era and are only slightly exaggerated for the sake of humor.
"I have a regular client that I photograph, and I was over at her house," Guenther explains. "It was at the end of the session, and the mom, [who] is always a total blast, just laid down on the couch, and I [said] we should do a funny one. She has a wonderful sense of humor, [and] she was all about it! And then it just spiraled out of control in a really great way."
"A lot of these ideas you think back to when he was a baby," she also added. "The 'Hold On a Sec . . ." photo where they're crossing the street. Mothers are always doing everything with crap all over their strollers, picking up the dry-cleaning. That's the scenario: you running errands and your husband holding up his finger — hold on a second; I've got to check the score. That's life; that's how it is!"
15 Parenting is Exhausting…
We all know that parenting is exhausting but many of us see other peoples social media feeds and are often left wondering “Is it just me?”
All of those beautiful Instagram shots of your fellow moms looking fabulous, with their perfectly turned out progeny in tow, is enough to make anyone think “What am I doing wrong?”
Guenther knows that the reality of parenting is not something that is not always reflected in the images we choose to share with others on social media, so she chose to stage photos like the one above. Ok, so maybe it is not entirely accurate and definitely a little bit exaggerated, but only a little.
There are few among us, who have young children that have not, at some point, just wanted to fall back on the sofa, close our eyes and let whatever happens, happen. We don’t, of course, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had a pause button that would work for just an hour or two, allowing you to take a break and truly relax without having to worry about all of the other things you should be doing or waiting for one of the kids to go and ruin your peace at any moment?
14 The updated version - 3 years later
Just when you think that you can’t go on, someone older and wiser will tell you “It’s ok. Hang on in there. It does get better as they get older.”
Well, they are both right and wrong at the same time.
The sheer, unexplainable exhaustion of those first months with a baby does ease up. You will probably never again feel that tired because of your kids unless you have more, BUT, there is a different kind of exhaustion waiting for you out there.
Gone is the newborn fog through which everything feels like a gargantuan effort and in its place is the treadmill tired of family life.
I have yet to meet the mom or dad who has not, at some point, fallen back on the sofa, either literally or metaphorically, and said to themselves “That’s it, I’m done.”
That is the genius of this second photograph by Guenther. She captures the fact that the newborn phase is fleeting but being a parent is forever. I just hope that she can update these photos every few years, until the parents are old and grey and the kids have kids, and maybe grandkids, of their own. THAT I would like to see.
13 Clean Up In Aisle 5!
The details in Danielle's photo are clearly sourced from her experiences with her own kiddies and shopping adventures. Take, for example, the pile of boxes on the floor where some enterprising toddler has no doubt attempted to climb onto the shelf and lay down. Or how about the bunch of bananas that have been dumped on top of the Pop-Tarts display, apparently in a quick swap maneuver by a child going past in the seat of a cart.
One child catching Fruit Loops with their mouth and another hiding behind a display and breaking into the Lucky Charms reminds me of the occasion when my then four year old opened the box of Lucky Charms I had said "no".
Her genius reply? “We have to buy it now, it’s open.” I did buy the box, took it home and only let his older brother and sister eat them.
He didn’t do that again. I'm a savage mommy 😈.
Add to this the contents of the moms shopping cart - laundry detergent, dishwasher tabs, diapers, and various other cleaning materials, and the contents of the child-sized cart - popcorn, pop tarts and what appears to be a kite, and you have the weekly family shopping experience in a nutshell.
12 Escape Plan
First of all, an acknowledgment that these parents were obviously forward thinking and had named their daughter and son Charlotte and Louis, long before a certain famous royal couple chose those names for their own children. Maybe William and Kate saw this photo and were inspired - who knows?
Anyway, back to the task at hand. This scenario is played out, at one time or another, in homes around the world.
Even those parents who swear they will put their kids down for the night and not go back into them have been known to crack and end up sitting next to the bed or crib, holding a hand or rubbing a back until their offspring has gone off to sleep.
You are then forced to crawl from the room, hopefully avoiding any obstacles your child had left for you on the floor.
The thing about this escape is that it will take you forever to get to the doorway and you will finally breathe a sigh of relief as you make your escape with your child unwoken. As you stand up and look back at their angelic sleeping form, you will discover your little one either sitting, standing or laying in bed, wide awake and staring right back at you. I’d swear they do it on purpose in order to humiliate they us and keep us in our place.
11 Just Another Mouth to Feed
This is another one of Danielle Guenther’s images that is funny in its own right but which also has plenty of little details to poke fun at us and our ideas about parenthood. Look carefully, and you will notice dad has been reading “ Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads.” The blurb for this tongue in cheek book says:
“Finally, a book that teaches men all the things they really need to know about fatherhood...including how to:
- Change a baby at a packed sports stadium
- Create a decoy drawer full of old wallets, remote controls, and cell phones to throw baby off the scent of your real gear
- Stay awake (or at least upright) at work
- Babyproof a hotel room in four minutes flat
- Construct an emergency diaper out of a towel, a sock, and duct tape
Meanwhile, mom has “What to Expect the First Year” the info for which says:
“Baby care fundamentals—crib and sleep safety, feeding, vitamin supplements—are revised to reflect the most recent guidelines. Breastfeeding gets more coverage, too, from getting started to keeping it going.”
Nothing can truly prepare you for parenthood, but knowledge can make you empowered. I would sooner discover how to stay upright at work than to get the low down on the latest guidelines on vitamins.
10 Loser Unpacks It All
Ah, the joys of moving home when you have kids in tow. Many articles will tell you how you should pack the kids off to grandmas or pay a moving firm to do everything for you, but here in the real world we can just about afford to pack everything up into a hired van that we have to return the same day and there are no friends or relatives within one hundred miles of the new place.
Therefore, moving to a new house with your kiddos actually looks more like this. You will read all about how you should pack an essentials box, filled with the items you cannot live without and for these parents that would appear to be a series of stuffy toys for the children and a good drink supply for the grown-ups.
Throw in the Wholefoods bag where they have obviously grabbed something to eat rather than cook and the kid on the stairs shouting, and you have the reality of house moves as a family in a nutshell.
Guenther has even captured the fact that they have moved into a new house only to discover the previous owners have taken everything, including some of the fixtures and fittings with them.
9 Got Milk…Yet?
At first glance, this poor mom seems to be asking her significant other “WTF?” but if you take a closer look, you can see she is actually pulling a sad face, and this pretty much encapsulates those first few days of breastfeeding your baby.
We’ll skip over the fact that the baby in this particular image doesn’t look like a newborn, but we will assume because the photo is entitled “Got Milk….Yet?” and that the breast pump still has its nice shiny ribbons on top of it, that this image is set in the first few days of establishing breastfeeding.
Anyone who has gone through it will understand the anxiety and discomfort that goes with this period.
Not only do you have hormones doing strange things to your body but you have a new baby to care for, and you have the sudden realization that this is the real deal and you can’t change your mind now.
The last thing you need is sore boobs, but guess what, you’ve got ‘em. While you and your baby and your body learn to get the hang of this feeding thing expect to have chesticles that basically do what they like, swelling up, shooting milk, they will do something new every day. In the meantime poor ‘ole dad is trying to help, and he read somewhere that stout is good for breastfeeding he went out and brought her a Guinness.
8 Oh NO!!!
The reason why we find so many of the Danielle Guenther “Best Case Scenario” photographs amusing is because they are so relatable. We look at her pictures and think back to a time when we were in that very situation, and few images do that for as many people as this one.
It is a well-known fact that your baby will stay awake for forty-seven hours straight and will only fall asleep when:
- You are in the most uncomfortable position in the world and are forced to stay in that position or wake up your snoozing offspring.
- You discover you need to go to the washroom.
- You plonk yourself down for a moment on the sofa, and everything you might need is just out of reach.
This is why, when you have a small baby, you must stash food and drink and wireless charging stations in strategic places around the house.
Then, no matter when your little monster darling finally succumbs to the sleep fairy, you will have provisions to sustain you through their four and a half minute nap. Because let’s face it, you might hope they are going to sleep for a few hours but you will no doubt be sorely disappointed.
7 Hold on a sec…
This picture may not be the exact moment or location where this happened but it is an exaggerated illustration of how one person in a relationship can take on a great deal, without realizing it, and the second person does not entirely realize how lopsided things have become.
This is a place where it is easy to find yourself with a new baby. One parent usually has to go back to work, and that leaves the other at home, literally holding the baby. That stay-at-home parent will then take on more and more household chores and errands, ending up overwhelmed and trying to cope with far too much.
Meanwhile, the parent who is working outside of the home has other things on their mind and find it easy to forget about how their dinner ended up on the table or how their clean, pressed shirts ended up in their closet.
The lesson to be learned from this photograph is that if you are the stay-at-home parent, don’t take on too much or quietly suffer under a tidal wave of domestic life and if you are the work outside the home parent remember that you have two spheres of existence and you are needed in both.
6 She Got the Bug
It is such a running joke that moms can’t take time off when they are ill, that some companies use “Mom’s don’t take sick days” as their advertising slogan. While that might be funny during a break in your TV schedule, it is not so funny in real life. If you have ever had to stay up all night looking after some kids with a stomach bug, only to come down with it yourself, you know exactly what I mean.
When mom is the last in line to get sick, it is normal for the kids to have recovered from their illness and have entered the “I’m bored but touchy because I want to do something, but I’m not quite up to it yet” stage.
In theory, you can curl up on the sofa while the kids sit and watch TV, movies, or play on an electronic device. Then you order some food, and everything is just peachy.
The reality of this is that you will have your face over the toilet bowl, yelling Huey, at the same time as you are trying to ignore the fact that your kids are eating handfuls of candy straight off of the bathroom floor.
5 Day at the Spa
It is a perennial problem for the parents of more than one child. Do you wait until both or all of the kids are asleep before you try and have a shower, knowing full well that by the time that happens you will be too damned exhausted to care about showering? Or do you try and have a shower with one or more of them awake?
This mom is actually pretty lucky. One child has stayed put in a bouncy chair on the floor outside the shower and the second one has only caused chaos in the bathroom where she can see what he is up too.
If you are unlucky, you will be in the shower and hear strange noises coming from spots all around the house, and you’ll be imagining what the little ones are up to in your 37-second absence. If you are really unlucky, you will turn the shower on, see them disappear out of the washroom door and hear absolutely nothing. If you haven’t learned it already, silence is the toddler and older parents worst nightmare.
The trouble with taking a shower is that there will be so much work waiting for you when you’ve finished you’ll just need another one, so why bother?
4 Rush Hour
Ah, the joy of a busy family morning. Who among us has not arrived at daycare and realized you have left your little ones lunch/coat/stuffy at home and had to go back again?
No matter how organized you try to be, your kids will find a way to make your morning chaotic. If you lay out everyone's clothes the night before the little ones will get up extra early, dress themselves and inexplicably manage to lose one sock each, which you will only notice when you are trying to get them into their shoes as you are ready to go out the door.
Prep the kitchen for breakfast and the littles will argue over what they want to eat, spill milk or juice down their fronts and manage to smash an unbreakable plate into a million tiny sharp shards on the kitchen floor.
All of this will be happening while you are trying to get ready yourself and your other half is either deeply entrenched in a telephone call, trying to get your youngest child to “please eat something” or looking for his own missing sock. Meanwhile be grateful if you get to work on time with all of your clothes on the correct body parts and your sanity intact.
3 Fully Loaded
The photo above was one of the original 13 photographs in Guenther's “Best Case Scenario” series and, like many of them, was inspired by her own experiences with her then five, now six-year-old son. The mom and professional photographer says she is not inspired one little bit by the perfect pictures she sees posted on Instagram and other social media platforms. Real life is not like that and seeing these images all day every day makes you begin to wonder why your life isn’t looking like that.
Danielle said "This is real, this is life, this is parenting. Parenting is so ugly, but there are moments that are so beautiful. Just when you think you have it under control and you're like, 'Oh, yeah, this is great. My kid's using his manners,' they slam the door in your face, and they scream at you!
But nothing in life is perfect, "and she is also using this approach with her portraiture clients."I want to know what's going on before you got to the shoot. I want to know what goes on at home, behind closed doors. If you can find a funny take on life, you're ahead of the game."
2 Check, Please!
Once you finally evict the tiny human who has been residing in your body you are faced with more choices than you can imagine. Not to put a downer on you but this new state of your life being a perpetual series of questions will continue, even after your smallest chicks have grown-up, spread their wings, and flown the nest.
Many of them are important questions about health and social matters, others are less critical and involve decisions about whether or not to go out and eat with the kids in tow.
This might sound like an easy adventure to the untrained ear, but Guenther knows better, and so do the parents who see this photo and understand, the struggle is real.
You see, going out to eat with a child is an operation of military proportions. Especially if you want to eat somewhere, that doesn’t present its food exclusively in take-out wrappers.
Choose to go and sit down to eat somewhere with your kids, and the first thing you have to do is check the menu online to ensure there is something available that the little buggers will eat when you get there. And make sure you give yourself at least two hours to negotiate the dress code, wrangle them into their clothing and then redress the first child who stripped off while you were dressing the second. If you still want to eat out after all of that then go for it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
1 Keep Your Head in the Game
Finally, we have the stereotypical image of what would happen if mom left dad at home to take care of the kids and get dinner on while she was out.
As moms, we tend to believe we are superhuman and we are able to juggle everything ourselves. Unfortunately, this often leads us to exclude our partners from both running them home and parenting.
How many times have you rolled your eyes when your other half has done something with one of the kids and as far as you are concerned he has done it the “wrong way”?
We have to learn to accept that we are not right all of the time, that there are other ways of doing things and that our partners may have very different methods but that doesn’t make them any less valid.
Of course, there is always one exception to prove the rule. In this case, if you ever see your partner attempting to rub your child down with herb butter and stick them in the oven while your Sunday roast is sitting perched in a baby chair, feel free to step in, interfere and tell them that perhaps they might want to try something different.