The Mama Journal | Breathe
Dear Neve, Thank you for reminding me to breathe this week, and always.
This is new territory for your maman. I've never mothered an active toddler before. I've never been so busy with my photography business before. Both of these things are incredible blessings in my life (in that order), but sometimes it all feels like a blur.
Sometimes, between photographing sessions and weddings, answer emails, returning phone calls, filling out invoices, tracking income and expenses, editing countless photos and setting up consult meetings, I feel like I barely have the time to just snuggle you.
And sometimes, between going to the park, snuggling with books in the big bed, playing in the sandbox for hours, sharing our snacks, playing pretend tea party, making play dough creations, working through toddler tantrums, going on outdoor exploring adventures, navigating that tricky phase between full-on diapers and toilet learning and trying to prepare healthy, wholesome snacks and meals for you, I feel like I barely have the time to get work done.
In these moments when I seem to constantly tip back and forth between maman-needing-to-get-work-done and photographer-needing-to-just-be-a-maman, you remind me to just stop. Breathe. Take it in. Enjoy it.
I feel incredibly blessed to be able to stay home with you, mother you, play with you, enjoy you. That will always be number one for me. I also feel incredibly blessed to be pursuing another dream of mine simultaneously, that of pursuing my passion for photography in a way that allows me to not only capture memories for me, but for others, too. It's a constant adjustment as you grow and your needs change, and as my business grows and requires more of my time. It's a balancing act, and it's difficult. But most amazing, worthwhile things in this life are hard. And I am determined to figure out the perfect balance, and committed to continuing to figure it out through the constant ebb and flow of life.
I sat down a made a list this week. I brought my journal outside and sat by the sandbox with you. While you happily filled your big green bucket with sand and sang your adorable made-up songs out loud, I jotted down my priorities. I made new rules, and created a schedule of working hours that leaves me lots of time (and some whole days) to just be with you, and to spend some time in the evenings with your papa, who has been very patient with me while I figure this out. I figured out how many sessions and weddings I can take on every week, every month, while still sticking to my working hours.
I'm sorry that this Summer has been such a learning curve for me as a mother and as an entrepreneur. The biggest lesson I learned is how to redefine success, and what it means for me. I used to long for the day when inquiries would pour in and I'd be booked solid. I would see other photographers exclaim that they were fully booked with x amount of sessions per week, weddings per year. I would think - wow, that's success. That's what I want. And now that I find myself in this new-ish territory of being booked months ahead for sessions, and over a year in advance for weddings, I'm learning that as wonderful as this is for me as a businesswoman, this is not the definition of success. Success for me is not defined by how many clients I have, by how "busy" I am. In fact, being too busy, for me, is the opposite of success. Because being too busy means stress and fatigue and compromising in areas of my life that I don't want to compromise in. I didn't plant a garden this year. I haven't gone for a run in almost two months. I stopped baking our bread from scratch. My meal planning took a back seat, and we've eaten more takeout in the past two months than we have in the last year. I didn't do all the fun maman things I wanted to do this Summer. Your papa and I barely spent a single evening together, let alone go on a date. And yet my business, which I love, is thriving. But I feel more tired than successful.
Will I give up? Certainly not. Because I am so passionate about photography, and I've worked hard to get to where I am. Being a photographer makes me a better, happier, more fulfilled person. It also helps to pay the bills, in turn helping me to be home with you. I will not give up, because you should never give up on your dreams. BUT- I will prioritize, I will schedule, I will learn to turn off the computer when my working hours are done, and start again later. And as I do so, I will be a better maman, a better wife, a better friend, and yes, even a better photographer.
Thank you for crawling into my lap with I tried to get editing done today, wrapping your little hands around my neck, kissing my cheek and whispering "Neve aime Maman. Maman aime Neve" in my ear with that little grin of yours I love so much. Thank you for reminding me why I do what I do, and why it's worth it, even when it's hard sometimes.
Tonight at bedtime, while I layed next to you in your big double bed, after our snuggles and stories and songs were over with, I just listened. I listened to your sweet, tired little voice telling me, randomly, that trains go "chugga chugga choo choo" and that helicopters go "takatakatakataka" and that plans fly in the sky, just like butterflies. I listened to you tell me that tomorrow you want to make muffins with maman, and that you want to go back to the water park with your yellow butterfly bathing suit. I listened to you pray and thank God for each member of your family all on your own, and I listened while you recalled your Summer holiday at your great-grandparents' home and remembered going in the lake with papa, and how papa caught a fish in the boat. I just listened. I listened to you breathe and I stroked your wispy hair.
It's moments like these, sweet girl, that remind me that nothing, nothing is more important than being your maman. It's moments like these that make me feel so good about setting new boundaries around my work/home balance, and it's moments like these that reaffirm my decision to pursue my passion for photography and my desire to be home with you, and set an example for you of what it looks like to be a woman following her dreams, plural. Because you can follow more than one at a time, sweetheart. Even if it's hard. You just need to make sure to find the balance, and accept that you will never stop learning, growing and readjusting.
Thank you for reminding me to just breathe. To take it one day at a time, to stop for a tea party break and to spend as much time outside as possible. Thank you for helping me follow my dreams. After all, you are my number one dream-come-true.
Maman loves you, baby girl.