Happy Mothers Day | Why Moms Changed My Why
- May 12, 2017 5:07 pm
Over the last several years, this photography journey has taken me to places and people that I never intended when I bought my first camera. Clients who were once a name on a first-time inquiry in my inbox have now become friends that I care for dearly. And I am so lucky for that.
But probably the biggest surprise is how my role behind the lens has inspired me to be such a relentless advocate for moms.
Because in doing hundreds of sessions over the last several years, there’s no question that every single mother who has been on the other side of my camera is beautifully unique from the other. But she is also very much the same. And SO MANY OF US spend our time comparing our differences, instead of seeing that we all really just want the same things… and that we share in the same struggles.
We have days we have insecurities.. We can fear judgement. We want a break. We crave time with our family when no other life responsibility is tempting us in the back of our minds. We just want to be able to let loose sometimes. We would do anything for the well being of our kids, and we want them to remember us as being GOOD. We have days where we wonder if we can do it, and then will turn around the next and wonder how we ever existed without them. We have a hard time with our changing bodies. We struggle to find balance between being parents and being a married couple. We want to just “be” and not worry how our parenting choices will be perceived by others, or if they are the best ones for our kids.
Most importantly, we just want to be the best mothers we can be in a world that is constantly trying to tell us we are not.
This was put in front of me EVERY time I photographed a family, and heightened by the fact that I was going through my own growth in motherhood. And that’s when I realized that I had a much bigger calling in this life than to just be a picture taker.
My camera had the power to show a family what exists when you peel away the stress and the social pressure. I had the ability to create a safe space for a couple of hours for them to just “be” who they were without housework, jobs and judgement in their way. That shutter button could freeze dozens of pictures that a Mom could refer to on the days she felt like she was falling apart.
I have made it my life’s mission both through my lens and through my words on The Thinking Branch to continue to help us all see that it’s OK to be whoever we are. That doing our best as mothers is enough. That loving our kids hard will trump any mistakes we might make along the way.
It has been an incredible privilege to get to know these mothers. I love hearing their stories. I love when they feel comfortable enough to unleash honesty on me. I love watching their kids respond to them. I love when their authenticity is undeniable in a picture. I love learning from them. I love being inspired by them.
By YOU! My beautiful, strong PBB Moms. Thank you for the privilege of being welcomed into your lives to help document these precious times and be able to SHOW YOU everything that is amazing about you and your family. Let’s keep working together to build bridges between each other as mothers, to accept ourselves for who we are… and to believe that we are more than enough for our kids.
Happy Mother’s Day, ladies. Keep shining.
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Where did I lose my “me” time? | Photography by Brea
- Sep 7, 2015 8:54 pm
When I was 7 or 8 years old… I had a “thinking tree” (as I called it) just down the alley that ran beside my house. It had a thick branch just low enough that I could pull myself up to sit on it, and leaves that sagged down almost to ground level to create a natural little tent inside which no one could see me.
I loved that tree. It was my “space” where I went simply because I enjoyed alone time… and it also served as a “safe zone” I could retreat to when I felt emotionally overloaded or sad.
Lately I’ve been noticing that my daughter has a WHOLE LOT of me coming out in her personality… specifically in the way that she also finds ways to make time to be by herself. Whether it’s taking her stuffed animals into her cardboard “house” (made of the shipping remnants of our patio furniture we got this summer), and closing the door for a half hour while she plays make-believe with them…. Or how she’ll be playing with a group of neighborhood friends and then find a way to make space for herself to dance or to sing “Frozen” songs away from the crowd.
And watching her little “keep to herself” personality has brought me back to the peacefulness that I used to feel doing the same thing. While I LOVED my time with my friends and spent the majority of my time with them… I equally loved those quiet times just hanging out by myself. Whether it was in my room journaling/writing poems… or just hanging out on that low-hanging branch.
But somewhere along the way… that little girl stopped going to that thinking tree. She stopped giving herself a time and a space to retreat to when her emotions were on overload, or just to be alone with her thoughts. And today… if I DO decide to spend that time alone… it’s uncomfortable, can be filled with guilt that I should be doing something “productive” or with my family… and simply just not as peaceful as I remembered it being on that branch.
So WHY did that little girl lose that awesome recognition that “me” time is so important…so healthy … and so necessary to stay level-headed in an otherwise uneven world?
I know I lost it a little bit in adolescence when I got made fun of for being “too deep” and started trying to hide that side of myself.
I know I lost it a little bit in my twenties when I spent my time defining myself based on how many friends I had around me.
I know I lost it a little bit when I entered the corporate world and got caught up in the belief that time spent on emails/meetings/deadlines were more important than time spent acknowledging what my own needs were.
I know I lost it a little bit when I had kids and listened to the societal voices that labeled Moms who openly admit that they want “me time” as selfish.
But looking back… I realize that I didn’t lose it. I gave it away, didn’t I? I gave it away to the chaos and to all of those other voices. I spent more time listening to that noise, and NOT listening to the person that I used to listen to when I sat on that thinking tree branch 25 years ago.
There are times that I watch my daughter retreat by herself and worry for her… that she might be an outcast at school when she’s off in the corner of the playground by herself while all of her classmates are playing kickball. But you know what? I hope she doesn’t listen to me – or anyone who calls her out for it, for that matter – and instead…. that she never stops listening to that smart little voice of hers that tells her how awesome it is… and always will be… to give herself some “me time.”
And I hope she’ll let me borrow her thinking tree … whenever I decide to start listening again to the voice that really matters.
One High Five Between Two 3-Year-Old Strangers… Two Moms with Tails Between Their Legs | The Mom Blog
- Aug 5, 2015 12:44 pm
“Look, Mom … Here comes my friend.”
My three year old’s voice couldn’t have been more excited as we played in an otherwise empty park on a “disconnect from life” trip back to my hometown last month.
I looked around expecting to see one of my friends who happened to show up at the park with their little one that my daughter may have recognized.
Instead – I saw a Mom and her daughter walking down the street towards us. The Mom unfamiliar – her daughter looking to be about my daughter’s age.
The minute the duo joined the playground area – the girls met up above the tandem slide… asked each other their names… slid down their side of the slide… high-fived … and headed off giggling to explore another part of the jungle gym. As if they’d been friends for months.
Us Moms looked at each other from our keep-a-distance spots across the play area and laughed a bit at the instant friendship that was born between the two. And we semi-awkwardly came together with our tails between our legs to introduce ourselves to one another and asked a couple of predictable “Mom” questions. And as our girls continued to play with each other, forcing the two of us to stay in the same general area… more conversation sparked up, and we learned more about each other, we shared stories about raising three-year-old girls and talked about our connection to the town we were in. And by the end of the almost 30-minute unplanned playdate, we had all made a connection with each other – the girls hugged goodbye and us Moms gave a “nice-to-meet-you” wave.
On our short drive back to my parents’ house I was thinking about that interaction that went down. And how cool it was that my daughter immediately referred to that little girl as her friend. How quickly they created a friendship. How “normal” it was for them to ask each other’s names. How they bonded on their commonality of two little girls being the same age and just wanting to have fun. And how THEIR willingness to not remain strangers during that 30-minute timeframe caused their Moms to not remain strangers either.
And what stood out even more was this: I wondered… if those girls hadn’t made the effort to connect… would that Mom and I have connected instead? Or would we have just gone about our business with the polite smile – using the “chasing our kids” excuse to avoid (*gasp*) conversation with someone we didn’t know….maybe speaking occasionally to each other only to apologize when our daughter jumped in front of the other daughter to go down the slide. Or would we – as adults – have reached out to each other to try to form a friendship – even if brief – solely based on the realization of our basic commonality as Moms?
Unfortunately, I’m not sure if we would have. Because I can think of several times I’ve been at the park with other Moms and neither of us introduced ourselves. Or struck up a conversation. Or even said goodbye to each other — let along HUG each other like those two girls did when it was time to leave.
Why do we do that? Why do we go to the library, and to the playground, and to the play area at the mall, or in the watching area of dance class … where there are tons of Moms just like us around who are probably craving the same adult interaction we are … and not create some sort of connection out of it? Why don’t we introduce ourselves? Are we THAT cool that we don’t need to make a new friend? Are we THAT content to do our own thing that we miss an opportunity to make a connection with someone – even if it’s just for the 15 minutes that we’re there? Is sitting on a park bench and checking what our sort-of-Facebook-friend is doing THAT MUCH more meaningful than creating a real connection with a person that’s right in front of us? It must be. Because we usually choose those other things, don’t’ we?
You all know the quote “While we try to teach our kids all about life, our kids teach us what life is all about.” And isn’t it true in this scenario. Didn’t those two little girls teach their Moms something about life… and the simple joys of having human interaction with people. No matter how quick. No matter whether we’ll see them again. No matter where they come from.
At what point along the way have we lost that? HOW do our kids know more about what’s important in life than we do?
I’m not sure.
But they do, you guys.
And that’s embarrassing.
But we can make up for it by making sure that they never lose that uninhibited willingness to connect with a stranger… by being willing to connect with a stranger. By getting off our phones, out of our heads and up from the playground’s bench … and getting into life’s game (one at which our kids are currently winning.)