I have to admit, I’ve taken to eavesdropping. Any time I overhear someone talking about being a mom, I perk my ears up. Three younger women jogged by me today while I was out walking with the doggies. I was walking fast and they were talking rather loudly, as people running alongside a city street are wont to do; so I was able to follow their conversation for at least half a block. They were discussing the personal challenges of being a stay-at-home mom. One said something about it being easier for women because “its more in our nature”. The second piped up that it was really hard for her and she disagreed with the first woman… that it was sometimes easier for men to be the stay-at-home parent because it wasn’t so “loaded” for them. I knew immediately what she was talking about. It occurred to me a little while later that the crux of the matter is that some stay-at-home moms are like me, in that they want to stay home and raise their children, but its not their calling no matter how hard they try to make it so. Then they feel guilty that its not their calling, and that they are being selfish for wanting something else. Yikes! What’s wrong with just saying “Ok, kiddos, you’re big enough to do some of this stuff, so get cracking, Mom’s got some dreams to chase that got put aside so that I could take really good care of you for a few years…” Where did this self-sacrificing, everything for the kids, nothing for the mommy idea even come from anyway? Can we rethink this one? I don’t think men do this. If they want to go skiing, and they can swing it, they go without any guilt. And they call their friends and get them to skip work and go too. If the friends say “no, because…”, they call them “pussy-whipped”. Hmmm… Is there a comparable expression for the woman who stays home? “Good Mommy” ? Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t have any problem with the guys skiing. I just wish it were that easy for me to feel good about doing the same thing.
I’m on night number two of flying solo now, so I’m spreading my wings a little. I’m simply saying like I see it, and since I have no kids around to claim my attention, I’m seeing things a little more clearly. There’s not quite such a muddle of thoughts about this topic in my head. Now, I’m not going to post a second night of dinner fixin’s, but I did have to come home and find something to photograph again this evening. I was on a shoot for Soulumination at Children’s Hospital earlier in the day. Its clarifying to be around anyone whose life is as fragile as the life of these children; clarifying, humbling, and awe-inspiring. Today I was photographing a baby. I thought it would be harder than it turned out to be. I felt so honored to be there, such deep respect for this family and such profound awe at this tiny baby whose short life has been only a struggle. How amazing is it that we come into this world with the will and capacity to fight for our lives from birth. When I write these words, I realize that they fall far short of the message that lies behind them. This is the power of photography, to capture those feelings in a different way. Photographing that child and his parents this afternoon felt like a tribute to their courage; a celebration of their strength, patience and of the fact of living. I came home and pulled an apple out of the refrigerator, set it on the kitchen table, set up my tripod and made this portrait to post on my blog. I will always connect it with the images I shot this afternoon of another kind of beauty – a fierce beauty that contains courage and strength as well as fragility and helplessness.