Affirming All of It

A photograph from my documentary project "Growing Hope in the Urban Center" appears in this exhibition

The above invitation is for an exhibition in New York. If anyone is reading this blog who has family or friends there, its an open invitation.  Please feel free to tell others or forward it. Note the reception on Feb. 23rd.

Yesterday morning in a writing workshop, I mentioned my blog. Someone asked me why I write this blog. Its a challenging question. I know I’ve addressed it already in some of these entries, because I’ve asked it of myself, but I’ve never had to answer the question coming from another person. Today, someone commented that my focus here is struggle, and that brought yesterday’s question back around again to the forefront of my consciousness. I feel the need to take a step back now and check my tone. The last thing I want to do is carry on about the struggles in my life. This is intended as an exploration and a celebration. I want to write and make pictures from inside my life, as a celebration of all that it brings me. And yes, from time to time that includes struggle… But I do believe that the struggles I encounter on this journey enrich it. They are sometimes bigger than is comfortable, but that stretches me, and I grow. I have always said that my children have been my greatest teachers, and I know that to be true. I have grown and matured as a human being because I have paid attention to their teachings, whether they were comfortable or not. And who chooses discomfort? So yes, sometimes the teachings I receive in the role of stay-at-home mom are a struggle to embrace. But, it is a job that entails amazing rewards. I think high rewards often come with big price tags. I would happily go through the struggles again for the rewards that I have received as a stay-at-home mom. So, why do I write this? Not as an apology for being a stay-at-home mom, but as an exploration. I struggle less now than when my family and I were younger and there no longer seemed to be any me. Now I struggle with trying to find enough hours in the day to be two of me… to make up for all those years when the only me was attached to at least one other, both physically and certainly psychically. I am trying to learn to roll with it, and not to struggle. To allow the new life to unfold, as the one that was full of everything from diapers, to birthday parties, to teaching kids to drive, and finally taking a child to college, starts to fold. I don’t always do it with grace. Sometimes I get terribly anxious that they will all grow up, and I will not have done anything well enough or long enough that I can jump into it, even though I want to with every ounce of my being. I think that maybe I will be too old to be a photographer/writer because it will have taken me so long to hone those skills part time, that by the time I’m good enough to make it, it will be too late.  I do not think I am alone in thinking these kinds of thoughts. I am sure there are women out there who share the same fears. Does that mean that I appreciate my children less? Does that mean I want to be less involved with their lives. No. It just means that dinner is late again, the laundry isn’t done, and I forgot to sign another permission slip. That’s why I write this blog. I also write it for myself. I tread a fine line daily when I look at the WordPress statistics to see if anyone else has read it. Then I ask myself again, “Would you still write it if it said zero?” The answer is yes, because in writing, I affirm this life. I affirm everything I do as valuable and in its own way, beautiful. I go to bed overtired sometimes because I’ve stayed up too late, but I don’t regret those nights even now, as I am paying the price… yes, struggling a bit, to get healthy again. I write this blog for myself and for anyone else, stay-at-home mom or not, who has wondered about the value of what they do, and who they are, because I am sure that I am not alone and I affirm not only my fears, concerns and my choices, but theirs as well. All of these things make up the fabric of my life and it is worth affirming.

At this point, I would actually have to say that, on a day to day basis, my biggest challenge is how to find more hours to do everything I want to do. I have plenty of memories of days when by 10pm I could count on one hand all of the things that I had accomplished that day and most of them would have to be redone the next. Now its different. I get to choose what I do with most of the hours in my day. I flash back to the old days when a child was home sick. It used to be that when the call came from school, I wrote off the rest of the day. Today, both my daughters were not feeling well, and I picked one up at school before lunch. I talked to the other via phone and offered advice. I brought Gillian home, made her some food and she disappeared. I got back to editing photographs and returning email. It felt nice to have her in the house.

Later, I took the dogs and went to the bank. Some days, they need more tending than the kids.

Cody Making a Withdrawal

Sherlock is being punished for pooping on the dining room floor a while back if you missed that post.  He still has to wait to appear here.

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