Saturday, June 26, 2010

Checklist for Parents.

I came across a parenting checklist recently. It asked me to identify the things I want most for my children and how can I help them get there. BAM: I picked off two without hesitation..but I did not feel done. So I filled in the "other" option and wrote, "I want them to be mothers." I felt a little selfish..but reconciled this with the fact that this has nothing to do with wanting grandchildren (I am not there yet) but more to do with wanting them to know how much they are loved. People told me that the depth of my love for them will surprise me. It did not. What really knocked me off my feet was how much I was loved by my parents. I never doubted this, you see, I just did not know how far this love reached. It's depth is unmeasurable.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gratitude and Abundance.

In my past life I worked in the homes of many impoverished families. There were a lot of commonalities: smells and sparse furnishings, and a few, if any, family photographs. There was a lot to feel sad about when surveying the surrounds...but the lack of tangible memories really struck a chord with me. The sights and smells have long since faded but the absence of pictures did not drift far from my memory.

When my mother died my family got together around our many photo albums We poured through photographs while trying to pick up our pieces. This task lasted for hours, as we laughed at haircuts, questioned our sense of fashion and recalled memories. In many photographs, the intensity of her love, and commitment to us was palpable. Through a bunch of polaroids, sun faded snapshots and portraits, my mom was brought back to life. While I was grateful for the abundance of our tangible memories my thoughts wandered to the families I used to work with. I committed to honor my mom, a champion of the disenfranchised, and help give these families what I cherished so much that afternoon.

On my first motherless Mother's Day, I went to a homeless shelter and photographed it's families. Their stories were like the ones we revisted when we opened the dusty albums. Beautiful children being loved by dedicated mothers. Aside from my first mother's day, this was by far the best mother's day I ever celebrated. In coming up with my business plan, I committed to apply 10% of each photo session to offset the costs of continuing to give memories to families who otherwise might not be able to afford photographs. I suspect that this might be the part of this job that I cherish the most.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Love With...

- A cowboy rainboot, party dress wearing four-year-old.
- A soccer cleat, tutu rocking four-year-old.
- A swim goggle, lacrosse ball cradling four-year-old.
- A lip gloss craving four-year-old.
- A knock knock joke learning four-year-old.
- A twin bed sharing four-year-olds.

So in love.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Early Morning Admission

"I won't grow up." she said all matter of fact. Like she has a choice. She added, "I want to stay this age forever. And come to your bed, like now. And play all day and not have a backache." I told her about all of the wonderful things kids can do when they get older: learn to do cartwheels, skateboard, ski, swim, learn knock knock jokes and how to read, READ!! "No" she stated again, "I am not going to grow up." So I pulled her closer to me, inhaled the fading scent of baby breath and smelled yesterdays sunscreen and kissed her head. Wishing, too, that she could stay this age forver. We stayed in our cuddle for a bit, talking about what the day would bring when she noticed a hang gliding commercial on the television. "Hey Mama, Can I do that when I get big?" ;).

Monday, June 14, 2010

...And a Little Child Shall Lead Them.

"These are days that you'll remember
When May is rushing over you
With desire to be part of the miracles
You see in every hour
You'll know it's true
That you are blessed and lucky
It's true that you are touched
By something that will grow and bloom in you"
-10,000 Maniacs

My mother's copy of Bartlett's was tattered and frayed...her favorite quote, though, she knew by heart: "And the lion shall lie down with the lamb and a little child shall lead them."

My mother had been gone a short time when my father, sister and I brought my daughters to an amusement park. The spot we went as children. It was a heavy mission, one fraught with memories. We tried to find joy in the carousel, in the horse ride or even the train. The same train that she held the girls on just the year before. Every ride we went on brought us to the same place we were before: lost and navigating the new normal. Their joie de vivre led us to an outdoor shower by the beach and from there, the path to new normal. We let them stay under that stream for a long time..and over it's din I heard her:"..and a little child shall lead them."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Loud and Clear. An Open Letter to My Friends.

Your voices have been louder then the one in my head...the one that reminds me to stay in my comfort zone, to admire the tree from afar. Your words have pushed me into the forest and right up to that tree and I have been climbing it. Each kind word, each encouraging gesture has been like a limb for me to ascend. So up I go.
With gratitude I say this ....loud and clear:

Announcing: A Thousand Words. Pictures by Jenn Voorhis.