Today is the second post in my “Monday Morning” series with lifestyle photographer Raquel Bianca. We are documenting five mothers in the NY area (chosen at random from Mommy Shorts commenters), to prove there is beauty in every mother’s morning, even if we need an outsider to see it.

I’m especially excited for today’s feature because Ilona Siller is the one mom who was not selected at random. Ilona is the mother that inspired this whole series by making the following comment on my facebook fanpage after she saw Raquel’s photos documenting my morning:

“I know it’s hard to show the ‘grey’ moments. God knows, nobody wants to pick up the camera when the baby is screaming for an hour. With that said, there is 5% of women in the world that can relate to your photos. The rest might be thinking ‘What the fuck am I doing wrong?’ I just wish the visual expectations were not so high.”

Ilona lives in a shitty apartment in Queens (her words, not mine) with her husband Lane and five-year-old daughter Amelie. Initially, she wasn’t sure she was comfortable letting us into her home.

Then she realized she always wanted a picture of her family doing what they do every day, “instead of posing on the one day we all got dressed up to go to someone’s wedding”.

Ilona described her mornings as “grouchy, rushed and predictable” and for the shoot, promised to be as authentic to her real morning as possible. In the end, vanity won out and she admitted to putting on a bra and a tiny bit of concealer.

After Ilona saw the photos, I asked her again for three adjectives to describe her morning.

“Cozy, warm and blessed.”

And that my friends, is why we are doing this.

Shitty apartment or not, Ilona’s morning is truly beautiful.




Ilona’s favorite part of the morning is her wake-up ritual with her daughter.

“Almost every morning, I wake my daughter up by pretending I am squirrel looking for nuts in her bed. She giggles, hides under the covers and eventually slides onto my lap for 30 glorious seconds of warm, lazy wake-up time.”



When I asked for the part she dreaded most, Ilona didn’t hesitate— “Putting my daughter’s tights on.”





Ilona and her husband are both working parents and share in the morning responsibilities. Lane is in charge of packing Amelie’s lunch and backpack and laying out her uniform.

Ilona spends her morning cheerfully suggesting, then begging, then shouting for Amelie to wake up, brush her teeth and get her shoes on.

Then she walks Amelie to the bus and they wait for it to arrive together.






I asked Ilona what she thought when she saw her photos and she said…

“I felt vulnerable and blessed. I felt warmth for my little family. I quietly criticized my tiny New York apartment (wow, my place is small) and how I looked (wow, my ass is big) but overall I felt so thankful that Raquel captured something I take for granted. In a few years, I will look at these with tears in my eyes and love every inch of that small apartment and every inch of that big ass. This is such a gift.”

Thank you, Ilona for letting us all see a glimpse into your beautiful home.

“Shitty” is obviously in the eye of the beholder.



If you want to be part of my next project (whatever that might be), follow Mommy Shorts on facebook.

This post is part of a series called “Monday Mornings”, documenting five different mothers throughout the NY area, in order to help us see the beauty in our mornings through an outsider’s eye. It is done in collaboration with the amazing photographer, Raquel Bianca.