In the end, I'm the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life.
I can't remember the last time I had a full, uninterrupted nights sleep. At this point, a solid four hours seems to be the theme and my body has adjusted. Motherhood is freaking hard, right? It's a never-ending 24/7 job that none of us would ever change for the world, but you can't ignore the exhaustion that comes with it. I'm no writer, (that's my sister, she's insane at it), I'm the photographer but if I don't write in a journal or photograph the hell out of motherhood, I'm crying in the bathroom over my blow up with tears of guilt running down my face. So I write. So I photograph. So I try to find humor in the stages and I do my very best to give it all I've got. But sometimes, I fail.
I make sure they all have baths and showers at night, jammies on, teeth and hair brushed, stories read, and tucked in to bed before I tend to my own needs. Sometime through the night, a kid will come in and either wake me to tell me something that could have waited until morning or climb into bed to fall asleep next to me (which means I no longer sleep comfortably). But I lay there, through all of the kicks and snores and shifting of blankets...this wont be like this forever. I wake before any of them, I clean up the kitchen and get their bags ready for school, breakfast going, lunches packed. I spend 20 minutes trying to wake them, in most cases, carrying them to the living room next to the fire so they can slowly wake in warmth and comfort. None of us are really morning people so they will undoubtedly wake pissed and the morning begins. It's a busy next hour and ten minutes getting them ready and out the door for school.
I spend the next 6 hours on phone calls with clients, typing emails, editing pictures, cleaning the house, doing laundry, prepping dinner, running errands, making sure jerseys are ready to go for the nights game and somewhere in there grabbing a fast bite to eat and hopefully sneaking in a shower. Have I mentioned what a dream day showers are? I used to take a shower before bed, but that meant twenty knocks on the door with random questions from kids who just haven't seen me for 25 seconds and need to plug in. Let's not forget the time one of them brought my phone on FACETIME with someone and handed it to me while I was in the shower. Good God.
I jump into the car to pick them up from school and that begins a busy run around to 4 practices, dinner on the go, tired kids and homework done late at night. It seems as though family time, the good quality kind, just doesn't seem to fit into the schedule anymore. I often feel like I'm missing life because mine never slows down. I'm always ten steps ahead in preparation for it to all run smoothly and I don't seem to witness any of it play out. So I take a picture.
Each stage of childhood is unlike any of the previous, yet all equally testing your patience, character and resilience. So I take another picture. I photograph the meltdowns, the time in the car together, the hard shit, the fun moments and every single thing in between. I want to remember this life, even when it's hard, even when the days feel long. We all know, the years are so damn short.
I used to document childhood exclusively for them. But I've realized as I've trekked through each stage of motherhood and childhood that these photographs are just as much for me, a therapy session, a good 'ole reminder that we can do hard things and get passed it with love and compassion. I always remind myself that my babies are watching me, they are watching how I handle life, the good and the hard stuff. They are learning to navigate their own paths using the tools and shown behaviors that we set out for them. Just remember, these days will pass, they will be hard, exhausting, rewarding, soul stirring, magical and full of pure bliss, and we'll want to remember every single moment. So take the picture. Then go hug your babies.