Family photographer Danielle Guenther gets the struggle that is parenting.

As a mom herself, she lives and loves the daily grind. Sure, she relishes those occasional picture-perfect moments, but she also relates to those very real moments her clients experience before, during, and after she takes family photos.

It was after one such family photo shoot that she decided to capture a real moment.

The mom "just sort of laid down in complete exhaustion," Guenther told me in a phone interview. Then the dad collapsed next to the mom on the couch. Guenther thought it was funny and they came up with the idea to add a few props and take a more realistic family photo right then and there. She titled it "Parenting Is Exhausting." (Isn't that the truth?!) When she posted it to her business Facebook page, "people went crazy for it," she said. "They were relating."


"Parenting Is Exhausting." Don't panic — it's apple juice in the wine glass! (See that jug of Mott's in front?) What parent hasn't felt this exhausted before? This is the photo Guenther described above — the first in her series. All photos belong to Danielle Guenther Photography and are shared here with Guenther's permission.

It was the opposite of all those nearly flawless pics we flood Facebook and Instagram with. And Guenther could see the very real need parents have to connect to these more authentic experiences.

And that's how her photo series "Best Case Scenario" was born.

In addition to or even in place of traditional family photos, Guenther takes staged but oh-so-real pictures for her clients. Guenther gets to know each family, and, based on their lives, she creates a moment in time for the perfectly imperfect shot.

They're hilarious and relatable, and she shared "Parenting Is Exhausting" and 18 other gems with us. Enjoy!

1. Rush Hour

Getting out the door in the morning is an exercise in patience.

2. The Escape Plan

You don't get those parenting stripes until you've army-crawled out of your baby's room to avoid being spotted.

3. She Got the Bug

Nope. Parents don't get sick days ... just bigger messes to clean up when they're feeling better.

4. Welcome to Our World

Multitasking: a parenting survival skill.

5. Playdate (in)Sanity

Now this is my kind of lemonade stand.

6. Why Did the Parents Cross the Road?

Family life = chaos.

7. Oh No...

We've all been there: The baby has finally fallen asleep, and you're deathly afraid to move to reach the thing you want to keep you entertained.

8. Day at the Spa

There's no such thing as showering alone and/or in peace when you have small children.

9. Got Milk ... Yet?

'Nuff said.

10. Fully Loaded

This is why it's easier to do laundry after everyone's in bed.

11. Just Another Mouth to Feed

Those tiny sleep thieves leave parents vulnerable to exhaustion-induced errors.

12. One Year Later...

Guenther photographed the family in photo #11 one year later. Looks about right.

13. Cleanup on Aisle 5

Grocery shopping with three young kids in tow isn't for the faint of heart.

14. Check Please!

That moment at a restaurant when your kids lose their minds and even if they're normally well-behaved, nothing works. You cannot. Get. The. Check. Fast. Enough.

15. Keep Your Head in the Game

Warning: Cooking with babies could result in dangerous mistakes. "They had this awesome sense of humor," Guenther said of the family in this photo. "It was near Thanksgiving and they wanted it for their holiday card. I was laughing hysterically with them. I knew [the photo] had to be funny and quirky." Mission accomplished.

16. Loser Unpacks It All

Moving pre-kids? Not so much fun. Moving with kids? Ugggghhhh.

17. Breakfast in Bed

'Cause there's no such thing as a "relaxing family vacation."

18. Hold on a Sec

That moment when one parent is juggling everything and the other is casually checking their phone. We've all been in both positions!

I know I could relate to more than a few of these photos, and that's what makes them so great.

Guenther loves being a photographer — and the different types of photos she takes. It's a passion that comes through in her work.

"Usually on photo shoots, parents say, 'Oh I'm sorry my kids are misbehaving,'" she told me. "It's OK! These are kids. This is what they do. It's nice to have wholesome, beautiful photos … but it's also just as refreshing to see something falling apart in front of you. This is reality."

And every parent on earth knows firsthand how real parenting can get.

"I think my favorite part about these is that social media often makes even the everyday moments seem perfect," Guenther told me. "But we know better."

She said that even though these photos capture the imperfect side of parenting, "it's also so beautiful when you photograph it. I know I don't want to forget these moments. I want to remember them — even when they're complete chaos."

Because that's what parenting is about — the highs, the lows, and the moments between.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Laverne Cox in 2016.

When kids are growing up they love to see themselves in the dolls and action figures. It adds a special little spark to a shopping trip when you hear your child say “it looks just like me.” The beaming smile and joy that exudes from their little faces in that moment is something parents cherish, and Mattel is one manufacturer that has been at the forefront of making that happen. It has created Barbies with freckles, afro puffs, wheelchairs, cochlear implants and more. The company has taken another step toward representation with its first transgender doll.

Laverne Cox, openly transgender Emmy award winning actor and LGBTQ activist, is celebrating her 50th birthday May 29, and Mattel is honoring her with her very own Barbie doll. The doll designed to represent Cox is donned in a red ball gown with a silver bodysuit. It also has accessories like high heels and jewelry to complete the look. Cox told Today, “It’s been a dream for years to work with Barbie to create my own doll.” She continued, “I can’t wait for fans to find my doll on shelves and have the opportunity to add a Barbie doll modeled after a transgender person to their collection.”

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.