it’s getting easier


 

“Lilly put down that dead fish! No-SERIOUSLY put the dead fish down!”

“Finny- you are way too far out in the water. Come closer. Can you hear me?! TOO DEEP!”

They both look at me, half smirks- tempting my seriousness even though I feel I’ve been pretty clear. I stand and go to them, talk and come back. I’m in a constant battle within myself to give them full freedom and realizing they would likely drown or get some awful fish disease if I didn’t intervene.

This cycle is on repeat for most of the afternoon, both Sarah and I alternating in an orchestra of firm but kind instruction. We spoke in fractured statements over the conditions of our hearts, lives, and of those we love. In the few rare moments of silence we could hear multiple languages being spoken along the shore from where we sat. I miss this, I thought. I miss the diversity/familiarity of this beach and friends who know me without any striving or second-guessing.

The history between us; grief, heartache, anxiety, joy, celebration, worry, relief, and laughter are somewhat like the sand between my toes, and the water that washes them clean. It’s a combination of therapeutic exfoliation, and healing restoration. She is pirate treasure for my soul, and I wish I could take her with me back home.

We scrubbed fish guts, sand and who knows what off our shivery kid’s bodies, then agreed that it’s getting easier. Like how we know to pack up and leave before the meltdown, and how we pack snacks and water to prevent “hanger”.  How we can give our kids more and more leash to explore and enjoy watching their curiosity unfold in castle play and dump trucks.

With each stage of independence gained, another strand of freedom releases for me. Driving home past fields of marshmallow hay rounds I slowly remember not to wish away their smallness, incapability or inclination towards danger. I’m still a superhero to them and eyes wide like theirs won’t look back at me like this for long. Eyes that both trust and loathe my authority. Their sweet hands that still voluntarily hold mine- so small. Yes, savor and don’t wish away.

A minor shoulder sunburn on my right side reveals the evidence of a day well spent. Rubbing lotion over the tender space I marvel over the wonder of our day.  The lack of epic emotional meltdowns, the way I parented my kids with patience (pat on the back- yay me), and the people I spent it with. All of this rare and all of it fully appreciated.

 

(I have a policy to NOT bring my real camera to the beach so all of these are cell phone pics, just so ya know)

One more baby!

When I first met this couple I was capturing their wedding in Mexico, now years later, I’m documenting the anticipation of their third child.  Following a family through so many life changes might be my favorite thing, and these girls in particular, make my delight grow exponentially.

brave

I think most parents feel a sense of impending doom before a photo-shoot with their children. We live in a society that values Pinterest and perfection. We are inundated with ideas and “inspiration” that can often leave us feeling intimidated, or worse, feeling that if we can’t be “perfect” we are less than. How is it that all of these people seem to have it together and we are just hanging by a thread? I am so guilty of acting like a stress case on family picture day, because it feels like my one chance to pull it together. My opportunity to see my family from the loving eye of another. I so desperately want to come off as adorable and organized. Side note- we can rarely pull it together but what comes out instead is even better. I love my wild children with their funny personalities. I love that they showed up authentic. I love seeing a variety of their expressions captured so I can look back and re-live stories about who they were as young people. Being a parent is the hardest work that I have ever done in my life. It’s work that I am constantly striving to get right and am often left feeling winded by the effort of it all. Because I know how Herculean the effort it can be at times, I feel a great sense of honor to be telling the story of my clients. We can’t control who will show up on any particular day, and the fact that we must show up accepting that is an act of bravery. We come armed with bribes and treats, but the fact is our children are not robots. What if our kids act like jerks to each other, what if they have a tantrum, what if we can’t re-create that perfect pin, what if we can’t be photo worthy for one hour? I have had most of these thoughts when it comes to my own family, but when I go to capture other people’s families I see their life, their stories, personalities that can’t be forced into plastic smiles, and I love the depth of what I capture. I love the highs and the lows. I love real. I love the bruises and snot along side the giggles and the snuggles. We are whole beings, full of imperfection and potential for greatness. I think the biggest gift we can give to ourselves and a lesson I have learned over and over again it to love my story. To love my children and family without comparison of the global Joneses. To treasure my tiny people and to honor who they are on any given day.

I have this particular bee in my bonnet because I have one family who seems to model this particularly well. Anna, the Mom of these three beautiful boys often remarks on how much she loves that I capture it all. When I’m looking through the pictures I’m astounded by her grace and ability to laugh when it’s clearly not going well.  She and her husband do their best to wipe the boogers and to line everyone up neatly but you can see on their faces what a great sense of humor they have when it’s all falling apart. This family knows when to hand out the gummy bears and re-group and when to push through. I don’t think they have any idea how much I love watching them parent. Sure, Anna wants the perfect picture just like the rest of us, but she seems to easily enjoy and gush over whatever I happen to capture.

This is the Herculean effort I was talking about. Thank you for trusting me Anna and Silas with your precious family.

Eloise

So much happens in the course of one year! I swear it was only yesterday that we were photographing Eloise like this http://onethousandwordsaminute.com/?p=2308. Here she is now in all her one year old glory and surrounded by the sweetest family in the world.

Mundan

Loved this playful, colorful mundan celebration.  This little guy is pure joy!

 

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