Today is Mazzy's birthday but since I skipped last week's Monday Morning post (It was Thanksgiving!) and people feared I had abandoned the project altogether, I am going to postpone Mazzy's birthday post until tomorrow. Don't worry, in real life, she is getting TONS of birthday attention.
My "Monday Morning" series documents 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. That outsider is lifestyle photographer Raquel Bianca.
Jen lives with her husband Jon and their kids Ethan (3.5) and Felicity (8 months). I asked Jen for three adjectives she would use to describe her mornings prior to the shoot. She said, "Disjointed, rushed and awkward".
After she saw the photos, she revised her adjectives to "loving, busy and playful", proving once again that motherhood looks very different through someone else's lens.
Jen's strategy is to wake up and shower before the kids get out of bed at 7am. It doesn't always happen but when it does, the morning runs much smoother. (Since my children have been my 5-6am alarm clock for four years now, this is an entirely foreign concept.)
Once the kids wake up, Jen nurses Felicity while Jon gets breakfast for Ethan. There's a beautiful photo of Jen nursing the baby, but she preferred to keep it for herself.
Jen never knows whether they will be getting the Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde side of Ethan's three-year-old personality— "it can really ruin the whole morning". They felt lucky that Ethan turned on the charm the day of the shoot.
Jen's favorite part of the morning is after nursing Felicity, they usually have a few minutes of family time on the couch while she and Jon drink their coffee. They call it "the calm before the storm".
Next, Jen and Jon pass the kids back and forth while they switch off getting the kids ready for the day and getting themselves ready for work as well. She noted that in one photo Jon is putting on Ethan's shirt and in another Jen is finally putting on Ethan's pants. "That sums it up."
One thing that stood out about Jen's photos as opposed to the other mothers in the series, is that the toys were left out and scattered all around the apartment.
I asked Jen if she made a conscious decision to leave them out to be more true to what her morning actually looks like. I had to laugh at her answer:
"No! This is so funny to me, because we really did clean the night before– the apartment was on the clean end of what would be normal for us. It's partly that we have limited space, so even when things are "away" they're not usually out of sight. And it also amazes me how little time it takes two kids to get all the toys back out."
The other thing that stood out to me was how much play seemed to be happening in the morning. I asked if that was typical. She said…
"With our kids so young, they basically go to bed as soon as we get home from work. And we find the evenings to be subject to a lot of other intrusions, especially work-related. So we try to make the mornings count."
While Jen goes to an office every day, Jon is a professor with a varying schedule, so the person last to leave the house (and wait for the nanny to arrive) changes depending on the day.
On the day of the shoot, Jen was the first to walk out the door. She put Felicity down for her 8:30am nap, packed up her breast pump and then left for work.
On the two days a week Ethan goes to preschool, Jen takes him on her way. On the day of the shoot, Ethan was staying at home.
I asked Jen what her reaction was to the pictures and she had this to say…
"It's hard not to be self-critical, but I do think the pictures are beautiful. It surprised me to see pictures that Jon and I were both in. It feels like we're just tag-teaming in the mornings, and not actually spending time together. We try to have the morning be family time, but it feels like we always fall short, and they are a source of working mom guilt for me. The pictures told a different story, and I hope that is more like how my kids experience it. Also, Jon was relieved that one of the other husbands also thought that the photo shoot was a terrible idea. But he liked the pictures! And I found that I liked them even more when we looked at them together."
Thank you Jen for showing us the beauty in your morning.
Even if you kept the breastfeeding photo for yourself.
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.
By the way, a shoot with Raquel (morning or otherwise) would make an excellent holiday gift. She is giving Mommy Shorts readers 10% off through December 20th. Just tell her I sent you!