“hello sun in my face. hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields. watch now how i start my day…in happiness, and in kindness.”
– mary oliver
when we are the only ones watching, how do we live? being a mother makes this so real. because someone is always watching, learning, modeling from who we are with them. we cannot ask our kids to be who we want ourselves to be. they see what is true. i struggle watching myself live in a way that is far less big and bold and brave than i wish for my children to live. but then, we all know that having someone wrapped around our heart makes us more careful.
it has become deeply important to me to tell the love story of my kids. when my two year old was born, i had only a point and shoot, but i carried it with me everywhere. and i thought the pictures of him were amazing. i got so excited about the way he was growing and turning into a real person. the way my daughter’s heart seemed to show up in every snapshot made me want to take thousands. it was joyful, there was no pressure for the pictures to be perfect, we all got comfortable with it, and i fell in love. with the way i learned to see them. i think that photography starting in love for them, rooted in the emotion of memory, is what planted the seed for the kind of images we have now. motherhood and a camera have become spiritual in my life. i still feel that joy and freedom and wonder, watching our lives bloom.
the way my daughter and son live with each other, behind closed doors, is an act of beauty. my mom always told my brother and i when we were small, “be nice, above all else.” i want them to be strong and free, wild and committed, curious and persistent. but kindness laced deeply into all of these ways produces a kind of gentle magic that can touch and mend hearts and lives. i want to make this as easy as taking the next breath. i want goodness and compassion and acceptance to be the mortar between the blocks with which they build. i want their smiles to be real and free. i hope that their words will carry weight and light and be used in other’s defense. they learn it in this little universe of two. and the one thing that i can give them back, besides my own love…i can SHOW them. we all can do this. hold up the mirrors to their little souls, to the quiet, steady love they feel and give. let them know it is not about what is on the outside. take a picture of what is inside, and try with everything to make our own as beautiful and true as we can.