Bubbles and sun | Elmira, N.Y. Photographer

We’ve had so much rain lately that when the sun finally broke it was definitely a welcome sight.

Life feels like that sometimes.

When it’s sad and dark for so long and so many trials face you, even the smallest glimmer of hope seems that much more wonderful and better.

Today’s post is part of a 10 on 10 blog circle where we post ten photos on the tenth day of the month. Continue the circle at Lais Livone.

Embracing the role of motherhood

For 13 years when someone asked what I did for a living I said “I’m a newspaper reporter”.  It made me feel like I had accomplished something in life. Four years of college, a degree, and a job in what I went to college for. I was a contributing member of society. I was a public servant, informing the community. I was important, at least in some small way, or so I thought.

Then I burned out on the news and, really, on people. I left newspapers, convinced my love for photography would translate into a successful business. Then I could say “I’m a photographer”

I left the paper for two reasons: to be home with my son and to start a photography business. When the photography business never happened I was left with . . .being a mom because in my mind I wasn’t a photographer if I didn’t have a business, which, of course, I now know isn’t true.

Just a mom.

Just.

A.

Mom.

I couldn’t imagine having to answer the question of what I did for a living with “I’m a mom. JUST a mom.”

As a kid, I’d never imagined myself a mom. I’d always pictured myself traveling the world as a writer and photojournalist.

My mom was “just a mom” and I had never looked down on her for that so I had no idea why being “just a mom” filled me with a feeling of personal failure.

Why was it bothering me so much to be “just a mom”?

I think the society we live in today, especially in the United States, tells moms that being a mom isn’t enough. The idea that being a mom is the best job a woman can have is very popular but only if a person can say “I’m a writer but I’m also a mom and that’s the most important job I have.”

If a woman can only say “I’m a mom. It’s all I do” I believe many look at her as if to say “is that really all you do?”

Last year I sought out a natural doctor for some health issues I’ve been having. She asked me what I did in my spare time. I started to tell her I was a mom so I don’t have much spare tome and she interrupted me “but what do you do for you?” I photograph my children in what I feel is an artistic way and told her but she shook her head in disapproval and I immediately felt that shame at being “just a mom”. Here was another woman, maybe even a mother herself, reminding me that I needed to be more than a mom. I needed to do something more with my life. I couldn’t just be a mom.

Other women shame each other into believing they need to be more than a mom but I don’t believe God desires there to be any shame felt when a woman’s sole job, so to speak, is “just being a mom.”

I’m working on accepting this title of mom, which I know sounds weird since I’ve been one for almost a decade.

I’m practicing saying “I’m a mom,” and not needing to add after it “And I am also a photographer.”

For me, photography isn’t a job, and I don’t want it to be. It’s part of who I am in the same way being “just a mom” is part of who I am and who I always will be.
 

Trying to be still and remember He is God

Some days life is all topsy turvy. The world seems upside down and turned around these days. What was once up is now down and what was once frowned upon is now applauded. Those who say they love children and babies only protect them once they are born, not before. Those who say they support women don’t support them if suggest we respect ourselves by not dressing inappropriately. Those who say they respect life are murdering others. The other day every story in my Facebook newsfeed seemed to want to remind me of what foods and vitamins can kill me and what my children shouldn’t be doing that I once did because now it’s dangerous instead of fun. (Side note: I’m on a Facebook break for my sanity).

It makes my head hurt and the other day it found me shutting off Instagram and FB and just about literally huddled in a fetal position while I nursed my daughter to sleep for her nap (by the way, I’m not supposed to be doing that either, whether it feels right and natural to me or not). I closed my eyes against the tears and all the voices in my head and I heard a still small voice say “Be still.” That was weird. I said, “Huh? Why did that thought pop into my head?” It sort of creeped me out, but I heard the words again. “Be still.” And I then I heard, “Be still and know that I am God.”

It happened again a few days later as my mind raced with worry about another situation I’m currently facing. I kneeled to wash my daughter’s hair and as my thoughts raced from worry to worry to worry I heard the words “Be still..” again…

I often tell God, “Lord, I am awful at being still, at least as far as my mind goes. You know this. Yet you still urge me to remember that you are God. You are in control of my finances. You are in control of my health and that of my children. You are in control of the world, even when it seems out of control. Please, help me to not forget and please keep placing those words in my mind.”

Psalm 46:9-11 “…9He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 10″Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.”

Her little face | Elmira, NY Photography

This photo was taken by sitting the camera at an odd angle and not even looking into the viewfinder because I couldn’t get into the position I needed to get the shot I wanted. If I start Yoga up again maybe I can get into that position some day.. When I knew bending down was going to rip my back out more and give my chiropractor even more business, I put the camera on my knee and shot up because I desperately wanted that backlight around her cute little head. This shot was also edited in Lightroom to give the image even more of the feel I was looking for.

Navigating life with “only” two children

We only have two children in our family which means getting out the door to go somewhere 45 minutes away shouldn’t be such an ordeal.

But it is.

“Do you have the diaper bag?”
“Did you get your toys together to take to grandma and grandpa’s?”
“Do you have my camera?”
“Have you seen my Kindle?”
“We’ve got everything? Ok. Let’s go.”

All in the car, engine running.
“Did I lock the door? Let me check.”

Car off. Family waits.
All in the car again, engine running.

“Did I unplug the toaster? I’m going to go check.”
Car off. Family waits. Husband back in car. 

Ten minutes away from house; “did I turn the stove off?” 

Turn around. Family waits in car. Mom decides to check the van to see if that’s where she lost a friend’s bottle of essential oil. Van locked. Mom slips and falls on her backside in mud and wrenches her shoulder.
“Stove was off.” Dad announces.

“I need the keys, I fell in the mud..” Mom says and gestures to mud smear from the top of her backside to her calf.
Back in the house to change. Then finally on the road  . . . again. Yes, like a Willie Nelson song.

A lovely day is spent exploring the woods on a unnaturally warm winter day at the parents/grandparents accept for another fall in the mud. by mom.

When it’s time to leave:
“Where are your shoes?”
“Why isn’t the baby wearing pants?”
“Do you have your toys?”
“Do you have your camera?”
“Where is the diaper bag?”
“I need to change the baby first.”
“Kiss and hug everyone good-bye.”

On the road again. Phone rings ten minutes from home.

“Did you know you left your purse here?”

Arrrrrrrgghh!!!!

 

My bedspread is not white | Athens, Pennsylvania Photographer

When I look at Instagram this is the impression I get: 
Every photographer owns white bedspreads in rooms with white walls and white ceilings, perfect for angelic photos of their blue eyed, blond, curly haired babies sleeping while wearing homemade neutral colored sweaters or magazine worthy pajamas on a furry blanket.
Every photographer has hardwood floors, perfect for capturing the reflections of their solemn faced cherub, sitting in a stream of light with their teddy bear/doll/dog/cat/sibling/something cute or cuddly and oh so photogenic.
Every photographer lives behind the most amazing forrest known to man and everyday beautiful light streams through the trees and on to a soft bed of leaves where the photographers little girl spins in a white dress because white denotes perfection and purism and all things good and holy in the photography world.
Don’t forget the home of a photographer is spotless, their children are spotless and well behaved and when they come to photograph your family you will appear the same way.
Everyone will see your photos and know how lily white perfect your family is. Not how real they are but how pretty they can look in front of a camera.
Yes, you’re reading a lot of snark in my words. Maybe because I’ve been a quiet observer of the photography world for a long time and have become a bit disenchanted with the way photographers like to recreate reality and then get very twisted up inside of their reality does not look like their Instagram feed. Maybe it’s because I had become that photographer and this year I want to disengage from the photography world and capture authenticity. 
My house is dirty. My kids are dirty.
I have one off white bedspread my parents gave me and I rarely put it on my bed; no reason why, I just forget I have it. My bedroom walls have horrid brown panels and there isn’t one big, beautiful window casting light on to the bed, the clean children or the hardwood floor. If there was any white in this house my children would have already marked it up or I would have already spilled something on it or my aging dog would have already peed on it.
I’m not rambling about all this to condemn photographers for showcasing pretty pictures of their lives. I understand Instagram and Facebook and blogs are only a snippet of a person’s real life. Those photographers can do what they want. I just prefer not to be one of those photographers. Then again “those photographers” may really have pretty white walls and bedspreads and their lives might actually be that sunny all the time. If it is then that’s what they should showcase because that is their real life. It’s just not mine. 
I’m almost 40.
The last four years of my life have turned me upside down and shook most of my insides out and I’ve shoved myself back together and I’m not who I once was. Every day I care less and less and less about what others think of me or what others think I should do or be.
Dr. Seuss said it best “I’m me and there is no one else I’d rather be”.
What a freeing feeling when you no longer see a well lit, white washed view of life and think it has to be your own; when you realize life creates scars that you didn’t ask for, didn’t deserve and that you aren’t alone in not being perfect.
Here is my goal from now on: photograph what I see, perfectly beautiful moments or not. I plan to capture real life and if that real life makes someone a bit uncomfortable or makes them turn away because they don’t see a world of white and sun, and perfect smiles then  I’m ok with that because I’m photographing for me, not for perfection.
 

10 on 10 February | Athens, Pennsylvania Photographer

This post is part of the monthly 10 on 10 blog circle. Be sure to catch the next photographer in the circle by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.

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I am convinced my children have joined forces to see who can turn my hair gray quicker. My 16 month old has been walking since she was nine months old and is now climbing anything and everything in our house.

My oldest is nine and every other night he takes cushions off couches or moves stools to make what looks like a gymnastics tumbling facility or a basic training obstacle course. 

The baby fell off the back of a chair the other night and slammed Into several of her toys on the way down. I was convinced she’d broken several ribs. She cried for 20 seconds, let me hold her for five seconds and then headed back to the chair to climb on it again.

 About a month before that she fell off the back of the couch and slammed her head off a bookcase. I knew she’d cracked her head open and blood was pouring from it. Nope. She cried for two minutes, let me hold her a few minutes and five minutes later climbed up to the back of the couch again. 

The same week of the couch and bookcase incident I found the whitest, thickest hair right at the front of the top of my head. I swear the kids sat in my son’s room, listening to me moan over it and cackled while they rubbed their hands together.

Then they planned who could come up with the most dangerous, scary, daredevil move the next time and laughed as they thought of me clutching my chest as I watched through mommy goggles.

(To continue this blog circle visit Life with a peanut and a zoybean)

The A* Family | Elmira NY Newborn Photographer

Their home was cozy, so well decorated and coordinated. Honestly, I was a bit jealous of how organized it all looked, though I’m sure there are crazy days there too with a two year old and a newborn. Even more than jealous, I was impressed with how the family had made the small home into a cozy place for a sweet family.

The walls were not only decorated with beautiful phrases and verses, but also beautiful family photographs, which shows me how important it it is for this family to document their history.

Thank you to the A* family for letting me peak into your life and your new beginnings with baby Maxwell.