The other day my son and I were going through an album and he pointed to a beloved picture of his daddy pushing him in a stroller when he was wee little. He turned to me and said, “why weren’t you there?” Surprised, I let him know, I was indeed there, just behind the camera. But this got me thinking about how the absence from the frame implies absence altogether.
So when my very talented friend Danica of Danica Donnelly Photography, accepted my request to document a day in our family’s life, I may have audibly exclaimed with delight.
And as the day drew closer, I began to feel panicky.
I wasn’t ready for this.
The house is a mess. I was staying at my mom’s house (a foreclosure she is renovating – read: diamond in the rough). And besides, I live with children…so there are chunks. debris. the floor is sticky.
What would we wear? I hadn’t packed for this trip thinking we’d be photographed. My almost 4 year old pridefully dresses himself and really only wears mismatched long pajamas, even in June.
Motherhood, has given me the opportunity to discover how little attention I can pay to my physical appearance when at the beck and call of two tiny humans. It has also given me permission to work hard on loving myself as I am. And I am typically bare-faced, wild-haired and unshaven. But “working on it” is not synonymous with “goal achieved.” And to document myself on this journey was giving me some anxiety.
What if I lose my shit? I really strive to be a peaceful parent –but I was going on the last stretch of 3 weeks away from my partner and to say that I was having some rough parenting days would be kind.
As night fell the night before, all the things I need to get done were running through my head when it occurred to me. This is life. This is why I love documenting families in their element. Unscripted and real. Messy and beautiful. This gave me good perspective on being on the other side of the lens.
I was going to give myself the day off. One day to only concern myself with loving my littles and myself. To not worry about the minutia of adult busyness, and instead focus on their little hands and chubby cheeks that beckon me to come play. And play I would. And I would leave the mess that is a time stamp on a life that moves so quickly we can barely catch the moments with an outstretched hand as they pass us by. And that is why I would happily welcome Danica to capture them at the speed of her shutter.
Danica arrived the next day with the sun and left just before it set. I knew that she would make beautiful photos of our time together. I did not fully anticipate how beautiful they would make me feel. How blessed that they’d remind me that I am. How they would show me moments within my family that I never even saw. How, now weeks after the session, their presence on my walls would remind me to take more days off, to live in the love. To be present. And to be present in the memories we hang around our home – to remind my babies that I do, indeed, peek out from behind the camera from time to time.