My vision of motherhood vs my reality of motherhood

This past weekend, I spent 10 plus hours in the car driving to a wedding with four women.  We covered a million topics during the drive, motherhood being one of them.  It was fun to spend time reminiscing on the different seasons of being a Mom and how so many things change as a result of having kids.  Since our conversation in the car, I've continued to reflect on my motherhood journey and wanted to share my thoughts on how I thought motherhood would be vs. my actual experience.

For starters, I thought maternity leave would be a mini vacation.  I was SO excited and looked forward to that break from work and holding my baby all day and all night.  I had a list of all of the things I was going to accomplish in those 12 weeks.  My vision looked like endless baby snuggles, visits from friend and family, house projects I would complete, organization that would take place, and more made the list!  That was my vision.  My reality on the other hand....well, that looked nothing like my vision.  I was lucky if I showered daily.  Danny had to send me texts in the first few weeks to remind me to eat because I would forget.  Keeping a tiny human alive is no joke.  Not a single house project was completed.  There was no organization that happened either.  We did have many friends and family visit, which was amazing.  You don't know how much you miss having an adult conversation until you spend all your time with an infant.  Fortunately, the second time around was easier because I knew what to expect, but goodness the first time around was a huge wake up call.  

Before Lily arrived, I also had a vision for the type of mother I would be.  I was going to breastfeed my kids until their first birthday.  They would never play in the play areas of fast food restaurants or malls, because GERMS.  I would have them on a feeding and nap schedule quickly.  I'm sure there were more, but those examples stand out so vividly in my mind.  Again, reality looked very different.  Lily was breastfed until she was 3 months old, then formula fed.  Griffin was breastfed until 7 months, then formula fed.  My kids have played in pay areas in malls and fast food restaurants, and have survived!  You had better believe though that hands were washed immediately upon leaving and baths were taken that night because GERMS.  I am not a type A personality, so I don't know why I thought I would become one as a mom and have them on a strict schedule.  I tired to implement one, and quickly realized it stressed me out more than it was worth it.  And being stressed wasn't good for me or them.  So, I learned to embrace the fact that our days would look different than my vision and we are all happier as a result.  

So why am I sharing this with all of you?  I think it's so easy to set expectations for yourself or see another mom and how they parent and think that's the only/right way.  I did it.  The reality is, it's okay to change your mind.  It's okay to do things differently.  Do what works for you.  Do what works for your kids.  Don't spend one more second beating yourself up for changing an expectation or vision you had for yourself.

Motherhood is hard.  Period.  Don't make it harder by trying to do it a certain way or comparing yourself to other moms.  Just give yourself grace, love those babies, and do what works for you.  At the end of the day, your kids just want a happy mom.  So let go of those expectations and embrace YOUR reality of motherhood, whatever that happens to look like.

Image by Sarah Ellen Photography

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What I learned from having my family photos taken

In 2015 I vowed I would have my own family photographed yearly. After our last session, I took some time to reflect, and wanted to share in hopes it helps minimize your stress and arm you with tools to prepare your family for the session!

When to start getting ready:
Start getting ready an hour before you think you need to be ready to walk out the door.  Something will always slow down the timeline you had planned. For us, it was finding my son’s other navy sock.  We ended up up finding it, but not without some stress. Try to eliminate stress level spikes by setting ALL clothing out (socks included) the night before so if you need to track anything down you have time.

How to prep your kids:
I told them the day of  the session we were meeting my friend to play games, run around, and my friend was going to take a few pictures. That’s all I said and they were excited to go!  I emphasized playing and having fun. This is SUPER important. If you want your kids to be excited for pictures, don't talk about the picture part. Kids don’t really understand what that even means. But, you better believe they understand playing games and having fun. You can even tell them that if they do well playing the games, they will get a prize at the end! That is usually enough to get them excited and engaged when they arrive.  DO NOT spend time practicing smiling, or threatening them in anyway. It will only stress you out and make them uninterested in the session.

How to prep your husband:
I told Danny that for an hour I needed him to be fully present and to have fun with the kids.  To laugh, smile, and do whatever the photographer said with 110% enthusiasm. I just needed one hour and he obliged. Sometimes family photos are the last thing your husband wants to do, but when you remind him it is ONE HOUR out of an entire year, he will rise to the occasion.  

Ask for help:  
As mothers we tend to believe and feel like we need to do it all.  If your family is like mine, I scheduled the session, picked out the outfits, and organized every detail. The night before and the day of the session, it’s okay to ask your husband, mother, sister, friend, or anyone you can count on for help. Help to entertain the kids while you get ready. Help with dinner. Help getting the kids dressed. Help with anything that will allow you to remain calm and come to the session ready to love on your family.

At the session:
Once you arrive to the session let it all go. If your kids cried all the way to the session, let it go.  If you and your husband argued over which route to take to get to the session, let it go. Let it all go. Once you arrive, just be present. Give yourself that gift. You did the work, the session is now, so enjoy it. During the session, you’re madly in over your husband and your kids can do no wrong. Literally, do not discipline them at the session. Allow the photographer to guide and direct you. I will ask for your help if I need it. Otherwise, let me do my thing. You hired me, so trust that I know what I’m doing and just enjoy the experience.  
Final thoughts:
My main goal at every session is to capture your family's love by guiding you to interact. How, you wonder? By playing lots of games, tickle fights, family hugs, and more! What I’m directing you to do might sound strange, but go with it. Hold hands, pull your kids in close and kiss your husband. You will probably hear me say, “closer” a million times at the session, even though you think you can’t get any closer, you can.  Love on your kids, get handsy with your husband, and above all else HAVE FUN!  Your kids can do nothing that will shock me. Griffin decided he needed to go potty during the session.  Restrooms were nowhere in sight, so he relieved himself outside, a foot away from where we were taking pictures. And you know what, it was okay. The session was wonderful.  

There will be some amount of stress the day of the session, I’m not going to lie to you. But, if you do a few things to prepare in advance, it will minimize the majority of it. Remember, once you arrive, just let it all go and get close!

I’m so excited to photograph your family!  See you soon!