There are so many stories inside me about the photos I don't have.
Over the years I've seen so many mama and baby photos and I've wished I had those photos. Those gorgeous, real-life, this is holy and hard and gorgeous photos of a mama with her baby. I've wished I'd had a photographer take photos of my little family when Ellie was born, and then right before her surgery, and then right after, and then when she was one and two...
Of course, this wishing hasn't meant that I haven't been present to the beauty of the everyday moments. Noticing the everyday beauty is "my jam" as they say.
But you can be present to that beauty and still wish sometimes.
I wanted a photo that captured how it felt to be her mama. A photo that captured the joy that is there even if only at the edges some days. A photo that said, "Amidst it all, she feels this joy, this love." A photo that said, "You're doing a good job Mama. You really are." A photo that captured both of us - the magic, the silliness, the softness, the connection. A photo that would gently push me to shed another layer of how I wish that first year could have been for her, for us. And honestly, a photo that did all that while capturing me in a way that wouldn't distract me from the story. I wanted to feel beautiful in that photo.
Of course I could tell the story with my words and with my camera and I have again and again. And that piece is so important. Self-healing, as my friend Pam says, is an important piece of unpacking the stories and feeling seen by one's self, which is vital in my opinion. But still, I felt that ache of wanting to be seen by someone who would deeply get it. I wanted to hold that evidence in my hands so I simply couldn't deny it.
And then on a day in June, Tara Whitney arrived, and Ellie took her hand within minutes and said, "Come and see my room." And a little girl's laughter and a photographer's wisdom and kindness created space for me to relax into myself, to relax into that joy and love. And before I even saw the photos, that little wish that was more like a crack in my heart stitched right up.
There are so many gorgeous photos from this day that I'll be sharing, including one of me and Jon that has me saying, "Yes, this is exactly how I feel" even when that feeling can feel far away from time to time after this many years together. And several of all three of us that make my heart burst with joy. But this photo. This one. I had to show you because I'm so grateful for the ways you've held my story these past few years and I knew you would get it.
Photo by Tara Whitney (who is full of magic and grace and delight.)