I know fall isn’t officially over yet. But school is almost out for winter break, the sun stopped coming out every day and the heat is officially on all the time. So it basically feels like it’s already winter!
This fall has been my craziest yet! The first few months of this little business has been super busy and crazy rewarding! Thank you to my family for supporting my dreams and my weekend workdays. Thank you to my friends for telling everyone they know about my work. And thank you to the families who trusted me with their time and their memories.
As I reflect on this pivotal time in mine and my family’s lives, I think about what I’ve learned and how I can grow from this experience. I turn 40 in just a few short months and while I feel the pressure to finally figure it all out, I’m also realizing that life is best enjoyed in moments.
1. I don’t like having my picture taken.
This isn’t actually something new that I’ve learned. But I’ve recently had an epiphany about this. As a photographer it may or may not surprise you that I don’t like being in front of the camera! Behind the camera is my comfort zone. But even when I’m taking the picture, I’m still in the picture. My heart and soul is poured into each image I take. This is especially true regarding photos of my children. With each photograph I am showing them how I see them through their mother’s eyes. I am there, even if you can’t see me.
But sometimes that isn’t good enough. I take photos of my family for my kids. All the albums I curate are for them. One day their dad and I won’t be here and I want them to have photos of us. I want them to have photos of them with mom and dad. I want them to have photos of just mom and just dad and of mom and dad together. I want them to have tangible memories of who we are and how we loved and lived.
But I don’t always like the way I look in photos. Sometimes I can’t believe that’s what I actually look like! Even when the photo is beautiful, I would find a flaw in how I look.
But I don’t anymore.
As I talk to friends and clients, the moms worry a lot about extra chins and flattering poses. And while I will absolutely work to bring you the most beautiful version of you, I also want to bring you the most real you! Flaws and all! I’m not saying that you are flawed, I’m saying you are real and beautiful and authentic and so very loved!
Now when I look at a photo that I’m in, I see the emotions behind it. I focus on how the moment makes me feel. I think about how my son sees me in the photo. He doesn’t see belly rolls, bad hair, or chipped nail polish. He sees his mom and how much I love him! He sees a story of that time we shared and that memory we made. 40 years from now when he sees that photo of me with no make up on hugging him on the couch, he will not see lines and bags, he will see a mother that he loves and he will feel safe in the world again.
That is the gift I want to give you in your family photos. That is the gift you should remember when you take a selfie with your family. Get in the frame. Get the real you in the picture too. You were there. You are loved and you are perfect!
2. Being a single parent is hard.
This is also something that I already knew but have refined my feelings about this fall! I’m still married and not technically a single parent. But to all of you moms and dads that do this day in and day out, you deserve a trophy… and a day off! Seth has been gone a lot this season. It’s been especially noticeable since I started working again and I need the extra help. And with his TDYs surrounding the holidays it’s even more apparent that he isn’t around.
Seth was deployed for the first 6 moths of Henry’s life. And what I learned from that was that it wasn’t the day to day activities and obligations that I needed him for. I could change every diaper and make every meal. Yes picking up toys and dealing with tantrums is tiring but not hard. I’d still be the one to get up at night even if he were here.
But it’s the decision making part that is the most exhausting. Every. Single. Decision. I have to make it. What time is bath? Should we ride scooters to school? Should they have iPad time? When should I fold the laundry? Is he really sick or just tired? Why is she being so mean lately?
And being the only grown up in the house is lonely. The kids are fine and fun but I can’t talk to them about stuff. I can’t run ideas by them. They can’t offer me advice or comfort me when I’m overwhelmed. They can’t help me make decisions.
I know I’m lucky in that he’s only gone for weeks at a time instead of months or years. But it’s still hard. I’m ready for my best friend to come home.
3. I’m in a position where I have something that speaks to my soul and I want to give that back to my community.
Business is good. I’m contributing to my family and providing a source of income I can be proud of. And most importantly, I am doing something that makes my soul come alive! I am passionate about it and I want to share it with everyone!
The holidays encourage the spirit of giving and community. With that I’ve been brainstorming with a friend on a community outreach project that we can collaborate on! It’s still in the planning stages and we have to find a few more team members to make it happen. But I’m excited to work on something which will not only challenge me as an artist but enrich the soul and give back to my military community!
4. I might have only learned three things.
That’s not true. I learned to read the pricing on the shelves at Globus really carefully lest you might accidentally spend 50 euro on a bottle of sparkling wine (I thought it was 2.99 euro…)
I learned a new joke: Why do ducks have feathers? To cover their butt-quack!!!
I learned that kinetic sand is a bad idea. Sorry to the friend whose daughter we gave it to as a birthday gift. My bad.
I learned that my kids like pooping together in the bathroom. With the lights off. And they both get naked and throw their clothes under the sink. (There’s two toilets in the bathroom)
I learned about a new recipe site called Creme de la Crumb and I make about 90% of my meals from her blog.
So there’s 5 more things! Success!
WHAT I READ THIS FALL:
Girl Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. It was a quick “go get ’em girl!” book. I started to lose interest in the middle but I skipped ahead and I really liked the end!
The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah. She is the author of my all time favorite book, The Nightingale. I waited all summer for this to be available in our library! And it didn’t disappoint. It’s a story about a family. Hardship, true love, friendship, community. It was a really good book!
WHAT I LISTENED TO THIS FALL:
Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman (narrated by the author!) It took me a VERY long time to finish this since I could only listen to it when the kids weren’t around. So I would listen to a chapter on the way to the store or daycare. It was slow to take off and I waited forever to find out what was in that water! But then it picked up and I was hooked! (I may have sat in the car in front of the house to finish it up…) The end was definitely unexpected!
Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories. (and there’s an app) What’s a sleep story? It’s a gentle, non-dramatic 15-minute soothing story to help transition you from all the things during the day to drifting off to sleep. My husband can just lay down and instantly fall asleep at night. And while I’m tired, my brain doesn’t make the switch that easily. I read but then after I turn off the light I still find myself just laying there thinking about all. the. things. I started listening to sleep stories to help my mind detach from the day and focus on relaxing. Henry really likes them too!
WHAT I’M READING NOW:
Send Down The Rain by Charles Martin. This was a quick pick from the library since I had my kids with me and we had 2 minutes to get to gymnastics. I love it so far! I’m 10 chapters in. It sucks you in right away! Very well written.