Just last month I was approached by a wonderful photographer asking if the kids and I would be willing to participate in a Mommy & Me lifestyle photoshoot at our home. I was slightly apprehensive to do the photoshoot because I was traveling for work (out of state) the entire week before and just flying in late the night before the photos in the morning – and let’s face it; I am a mom which means I’ve got some serious bags under my eyes as it is on any other given day! I was also a little nervous because our house has been under construction for some time now and didn’t have a completed staircase (and still isn’t!), and I don’t even have flooring in our living room and dining room. With all that being said, I said “Let’s do it!” anyways; I am so rarely in front of the camera with my little ones as I am main photo-taker so it seemed like a great opportunity for us.
I was able to quickly throw some outfits together for the kids and I and ran around and cleaned up the house right when I get home from the airport the night before. I knew various areas of the home would still be unfinished but ultimately the photos were going to capture the kids and I and our life. Our real life. And our real life as we know it is living with construction and renovation projects while we try to make this house our home. That’s life, right?
We did the photoshoot in just a quick 45 minutes and had a lot of fun taking the pictures, just my babies and I. Following the photoshoot, I had even more fun writing about mom-life was like for me. I got to write about each of my 3 children and their different personalities. I got to give my take on being a working-mom and how I manage to juggle it all and, also, how sometimes I can’t manage it all and what that’s like. You can find our photographers wonderful post and some of her favorite photos from out shoot here.
In addition to our photographers post, I wanted to expand on what mom-life is like to me – the good, the bad, the struggles, the wins, and also the many unexpected parts that I wasn’t prepared for – including responses to our photoshoot by other moms and how being a mom amongst moms is a struggle in it’s own right.
I am neither the first nor the last person to admit that being a mom is hard-work. I have been a stay-at-home mom (short-lived!) and I have been a working mom and I can tell you that no matter which path you choose as a mom – both are difficult in their own ways and both are rewarding in their own ways.
As the mother of three, 2 girls and one boy, one of the things that I love most is seeing how different and unique each of my children are. They have each had their own personalities since the moment that they were born, too. Poppy, my oldest daughter, is 7 years old and quite possibly one of the sweetest little girls -most of the time! Poppy is very kind and loving and so very sensitive. She can definitely have a sassy moment once ‘n a while, especially as she approaches 2nd grade now. Poppy is determined in everything that she does from excelling at school to playing sports to being the best friend she can be but with this, she can also be very hard on herself and gets down at the thought of doing something poorly or getting in trouble. As her mom I have to remind her that it is OK to not be perfect and there will absolutely be times in school and in life where doing her best just isn’t good enough and that is totally fine. She is by far my most sensitive child who will cry at the drop of a hat (literally, actually) and as someone who is not particularly sensitive myself, it is often a struggle for me to handle these moments of hers. I am not a crier and I find that I don’t have a lot of patience for crying over spilled milk. I am definitely a “toughen up” kind of mom. Poppy loves to do whatever I am doing and takes so much interest in both my work and my hobbies whether that’s my being an Event Planner and she helps suggest how to set a table, decorating the house where she has grand ideas of how to improve our home, or being adamant about learning to sew so that she can sew along side me. Poppy has the biggest sweetest smile that instantly lights up a room and to make her laugh is the best feeling, ever.
Hudson, my only boy, is the best snuggler and is my biggest cuddle-bug. Unlike most very rambunctious toddler boys, Hudson is a little quiet and reserved and not because he is shy but because he is a thinker who is very observant and analytical and more often than not he is surveying a situation determining if it is safe or not or of any interest to him. As of right now, participating in sports are of little to not interest to Hudson as he would prefer to do science experiments or some type of hands-on activities like building or learning how things work. Hudson is naturally athletic though and I am determined to get him into a sport or two to see where it could take him in life. Hudson faced so many undiagnosed dietary issues as a baby (as I’ve mentioned in various posts about his/our diet…) and that unfortunately made for a rough first 2 years of his life. There were so many days where I would literally hold him and cry and wonder how I would ever survive the day and more importantly, how would I ever learn how to be the mom that he needed me to be. I am so happy to report that the last 3 years have been such a better time for him and for me as his mom. Of course we have our moments where we battle over what he has to eat and how much he has to eat of it – but we have come a long ways! Our little guy is so adorable and funny and incredibly sweet and loving.
My youngest, Holland, is 3 years old. Out of all of our children, Holland is by far the wildest free-spirit. Holland has a very strong personality, she is strong-willed and stubborn. Despite her craziness, Holland is a wonderful helper who is great at doing chores and completing any tasks given to her. As the youngest of 3, I can totally relate to Holland and what it’s like to be the youngest. She wants to be a part of everything, hang with the older kids, but loves to be babied. She has become such a mature little girl and has had an extensive vocabulary and amazing way of expressing herself sinch such a young age. She and Hudson often butt-heads since they’re the same size and she is much more aggressive than he is but at the same time they can be the best of friends and play so nicely together. Thanks to Poppy and Hudson and 5 minutes outside, Holland learned how to ride a 2-wheel bike in a matter of minutes and was up and riding without any struggle. She is naturally athletic and has some great rhythm, too, and I hope to focus her energy on sports or something active. Holli, as we call her, is a spit-fire who keeps us laughing and on our toes!
Life as a working mom is oftentimes chaotic and stressful and can be overwhelming, too. I choose to be a working mom despite the aforementioned downsides because I think it is very important for both myself and my children for me to set a good example that women can have it all; a career, a family, a social life, etc. I also want them to see that although someone can have it all – it takes a lot of hard work. Being a mom is a job in itself, don’t get me wrong. But with that being said, I find that I am a better mom when I am a working mom. Working a full-time job forces me to be organized, efficient, and diligent but it also allows me to be me – you know, the person I was before I became a wife and mother. I knew from a young age that I always wanted to be a mom but I didn’t want being a mom to be all that my life consisted of. I love my children and I love my time with them and cherish it deeply, but I love that my children see that I can be a “boss” inside and outside of the home, too! I have to meal plan for the week, grocery shop on Sundays or Mondays if I can. I clean my house daily by tidying up, cleaning counters, vacuuming and anything else the house calls for. Keeping a clean and organized house helps me keep my sanity. I try my hardest to be at every sport and school activity unless I am out of town for work. I cook dinner and pack snacks to take to evening softball games because nothing is worse than hungry kids who need to get bathed and in bed the moment we get home from a late game or practice. It’s hard to get everything done some days but I have to plan ahead, make notes, and keep multiple calendars. I have to know steps 1-12 in my head of exactly what I need to do and when I need to do it and not get distracted from my plan. Some days are easier than others but I definitely have to be diligent and organized. I pack school lunches and snacks after dinner, we plan outfits the night before – both the kids and mine, homework is done right after school every day, and laundry gets done twice a week unless needed sooner. My job requires travel, working some very early mornings and/or late nights, and even the occasional weekend. I have to answer my work phone and respond to emails in “off hours” which can sometimes interrupt family time but I try to keep it to a minimum. As a working mom, my time with my kids and at home getting things done is so precious that I don’t waste it watching TV, in front of a computer, or playing on my phone. I don’t use an iPad and my laptop is only on if I am using it for a sewing project. Being a working mom means figuring out how to divide my time and dedicate my attention to work during work hours and my kids when I am with them. I have to balance my life which can be difficult at times but it is important to me. I want to set a good example of a strong woman to my kids and I am determined to show them how to be successful in multiple areas of life as they get older.
Being a mom is a hard title to have; without any warning you are automatically thrusted into this world of judgement and competition without even knowing what you signed-up for. Having gone to an all-girls high school I thought I dealt with all of the cattiness, cliques, and judgement there was – and then I became a mom of a school-aged child and I was quickly proven wrong! On a daily basis I feel like I am being judged when I drop my kids off at school and I have yet to fully identify why that is. The stay at home moms judge the working moms and the working moms judge the stay at home moms. The older moms look at young moms with some serious side-eye and the young moms do the same to the older moms. And let’s not even get into those of us moms who have (visible) tattoos, funkier hairstyles, or edgier sense of style. Then, because we are fortunate enough to live in a wonderful albeit rather affluent town, tack on the judgement and competition about all the money things; clothes, purses, jewelry, cars, homes, etc. It’s just too much and I hate to admit it, but oftentimes it really gets to me because I feel like I am not given a fair chance by most moms who just see me in passing and they’re judging me based strictly on superficial things. I recently felt like I finally came to terms with this whole situation and felt peace in having the good friends that I have who knows me, who get me, and who appreciate all of my qualities – good or bad. Then, our sweet photographer posted our photoshoot on various blogs, moms forums, social media, etc and I felt this wave of sadness come over me as I was asked to defend our photos and our home.
The whole point of the photos was to capture my sweet babes and I, to finally allow me and the kids to be the focus of photos since I am always behind the camera, and to capture us in sweet moments at our house. The place we all call home. Our comfort zone. Our safe place. Our under-construction, work-in-progress family space. Upon posting the photos we got lots of wonderful kind words, some truly sweet compliments, but also so many moms who made judgemental comments, too. Thankfully the comments were focused on the house how some moms would love to do photos like that but their home doesn’t look like its out of a restoration hardware catalog, or moms who showed interest but were concerned because they don’t shop at Pottery Barn (and for the record, neither do I!). I had to go on and explain how my home is far from perfect and though nothing was edited to make it look better, we did pick the areas of the home that didn’t show our plywood living room floor or our unfinished stairs, or our stair railing that wasn’t installed yet. What made me the saddest about having to do this was that these moms were not only wrongfully judging me and my home, but that they allowed themselves to feel so insecure about their own home based on a strangers. Life as a mom is hard enough, why must we continue to put this added pressure on ourselves by comparing to others? I just don’t understand it. Prior to buying this house a couple of years ago, we lived in a small little townhome that we loved just as much. We were so cramped in the house as we continued to add dogs and kids to the mix in a 2 bedroom 2 bath home with a tiny little yard and shared walls to our neighbors. However, we never ever let our cramped little house stop us from hosting parties, from taking photos, from inviting friends over, and from loving our house – because it was our home. We loved our home (though we knew we needed a larger one as our family continued to grow literally and figuratively). My kids loved our house and often talk about it and the parts of it that they miss, as do I. We lived there for about 6 years and we never felt ashamed of that house. We were proud of how we updated, remodeled, decorated, and made it work for our family of 5 + 3 dogs. I would have done this same photoshoot in that house without any hesitation. I wish that all of the other moms who have small homes, messy homes, cluttered homes, packed homes, or whatever it might be, understand that none of that matters. What matters is that it is their home and I am sure their children love it all the same, too. As moms we have so much to worry about personally and for our children for the rest of our lives, we have so much fighting against us, so many people judging us, why must we add to it unnecessarily?
Motherhood to me is all about sharing my love and raising little humans to be the best people they can possibly be. To me, motherhood means being selfless and compassionate. Being a mom also means being loving and a leader who works every day at guiding my children down the right paths in life so that they love their life and they love and respect all of the lives around them.