Dear Mothers, I have met a lot of you throughout my career as a Baby and Family Photographer. Over the years, there are a few things I have noticed and would love to share with you this Mothers Day.
THERE ARE SO MANY KINDS OF MOMS
MOMS ARE MOMS ARE MOMS ARE MOMS …
If you have a child, you are a mom. That’s the only requirement. Anyone who says otherwise can get out of town. There are so many different versions and realities of Mom’s, it’s really incredible.
There are: Working Moms, Stay At Home Moms, Married Moms, Single Moms, Same-Sex Marriage Moms, Over 40 Moms, Teenage Moms, Moms of Multiples, Moms of Children with Illness, Moms with their own Illness, Special Needs Moms, Military Moms, Moms of Moms, Grand-Moms, Surrogate Moms, Adoption Moms, Homeschooling Moms, Moms To Be, Infertility Moms, Foster Moms, Survivor Moms, Incarcerated Moms, Moms of Blended Families, Moms of Addiction, Disability Moms, Trans Moms, Step Moms, Coloured Moms, Chosen Moms, Traveling Moms, Moms of Angels/Miscarriage, …
*Mom list idea credited to my colleague Rivkah Leah Gelb who is putting a book together about this!
YOU ARE DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY
IT’S OK TO FEEL SELF-DOUBT AND ITS OK TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE KICKING ASS
You do your best each day and your best can look different each day. Read that last part again. Your best is different depending on what else is going on.
Some days, your best is barely getting everyone out the door or hitting up the drive-through for dinner at the end of the day. Sometimes your best is just making ends meet any way you can. Your best can be staying in your PJ’s or putting a towel down and saying screw it. Sometimes your best is not what you thought it would look like. Sometimes your best is leaning on your friends and asking for support. It can mean closing the blinds and pretending not to be home. There is no guilt in any of this. You are doing a great job.
Some days, your best is awesome, energetic, getting all of the things done, eating vegetables, and climbing mountains. Sometimes you feel success because you gave everyone your attention and connection that day. Your best can be taking the day off to restore yourself. It can be going to work so you can provide for your family. Maybe it’s taking the day off work to go to the beach with them. Your best looks different every day. It looks different from the Mom Next Door’s best. Your vegetable stir-fry best is just as good as microwaved leftover dinner best. There is no competition and no guilt. Let’s cheer on every Mom that is doing their best every day no matter what that best looks like.
YOU ARE DIFFERENT THAN YOU USED TO BE … AND YOU ARE STILL JUST AS BEAUTIFUL
HONESTLY, YOU ARE.
My journey as a Family and Baby Photographer has been insightful. More often than not, Mother’s say something along the lines of ‘my children and/or partner photograph beautifully so focus on them instead’.
Let me gently preface this first. The struggle is real. The emotions you have, the feeling blue, and exhaustion, adjusting to this new life … none of it’s easy. It’s more than ok to feel like you aren’t yourself. Of course, it’s hard and I never want to take away from or discredit those feelings. They are real and can be overwhelming at times.
However, from a Photographer’s perspective, let me also share this with you. Your babies love you just the way you are. They only want love and attention — and let’s be honest, food — from you. I get it, it’s really hard to get in front of the camera when you aren’t feeling like your usual self. This phase is raw, hard, full of adjustment. But this phase is an important part of your journey together. You absolutely will want to reflect on it later in life. Photography is a powerful way to do that.
It’s way easier to not be in the portraits. However, if you have it in yourself to push through those feelings and be in the photographs with your kids, I promise you will be so proud of yourself. In five years when they go to Kindergarten, you will be so happy that you have a portrait of you and your baby.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO LOVE YOU AND WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU, EVEN WHEN IT DOESNT SEEM LIKE IT.
Every time Mother’s tell me they feel alone, or think the emotions they have are strange, I wish I could show them all the other Mother’s I photograph who say the same things.
Many Mother’s have phoned me before their newborn photographs asking if we can just do them indoors, in bed, very relaxed because that’s all they can manage that day. I have had Mom’s with 6-month-old babies suddenly feel down and change their portraits from hiking to a waterfall to just snuggling in their favourite chair. They often feel defeated or guilty for not doing more, but let me tell you, these simple emotional portraits are some of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever had the pleasure of creating with you.
Deep raw emotion and exhaustion is a beautiful time. God, it’s hard though. When my Dad died suddenly, the rug was brutally pulled out from under my family’s feet. One of my most vivid memories after his passing was laying on the couch, so overcome with painful emotion that I would stare at the clock and force myself to calmly breathe for one minute. That’s how I spent the entire afternoon, making deals with myself to breathe and make it through the minute. Slowly over time, the minutes went by a bit faster, then I began to make it through the hours, then the days, and now the years. On that day of breathing through the minutes, the idea of ever feeling normal or happy again seemed wildly impossible. Yet, here I am four years later, out of that deep place, alive and happy.
I share this story with you because I have not gone through the Motherhood journey yet. But I’ve been to dark places and am not afraid of them. The mind is powerful, and whether it takes you to a deep place or a high place, it’s real. Your feelings are real.
At the time, your mind can make you feel isolated, alone, and guilty. Like you will never get passed this. With 200% certainty and faith, I know you will survive this. You will get passed this. You are strong enough to make it through this journey life gave you.
YOUR JOURNEY IS IMPORTANT AND WORTHY
… AND SPECIAL, AND AWESOME, AND RADICAL, AND VIRTUOUS, AND SIGNIFICANT
You are amazing, strong, intelligent, beautiful, funny. You have a special type of love that only you can give. It is your duty to share your love and your self with the world. We would truly be missing out if you hid yourself from us.
Even if you don’t quite believe me yet, try telling yourself positive things every day. Notice how quickly your mindset changes and how much love flows into your life. This love has been trying to reach you the entire time, it’s always there. However, if we never lift our head and look around, we don’t notice the love and energy being sent to us.
Here are a few positive mantras to get you started:
I TAKE GREAT CARE OF MYSELF.
I AM ADEQUATE AT ALL TIMES.
WHAT I WANT IS ALREADY HERE OR ON ITS WAY TO ME.
I CAN DO HARD THINGS.
Mother’s Day looks different for each Mother. I want to recognize that it’s a Holiday that brings some people intense grief but also brings some people intense joy. No matter what it’s like for you, I hope you know that there are people who love you, that you are appreciated, and that the world can learn something from how incredible you are.
Happy Mothers Day.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER JENA