“Monday Mornings” aims to prove there is beauty in every mother’s morning, even if we need an outsider to see it. Thanks to a partnership with Allstate, I am flying lifestyle photographer Raquel Bianca across the US to document the morning routines of twelve mothers in five different cities. We just finished documenting three moms in Chicago (Laura, Shaneka and Sara) and this is our first stop in Los Angeles.
Today’s Monday Morning features Morgan, a fellow blogger (the 818) and the new parenting editor for Buzzfeed. She actually received the Buzzfeed offer during our photo shoot. Morgan lives in Sherman Oaks, LA in the same town she grew up, with her “high school sweetheart” Scott. They have a four-year-old daughter named Delilah (Dee).
“We are high school sweethearts and urban townies. We’re not THAT in love with our neighborhood, per se — we’re looking to move, but when we first moved here eight years ago, it was because The Valley just felt like home to us and it was where we wanted to make our home together.”
In addition to taking care of their daughter, Morgan and Scott own three dogs, plus Scott runs a petcare business out of their home, so often there are even more furry friends running around. Morgan assured me that Raquel would be greeted with “a chorus of loving howls”.
“They are all super sweet dogs, from Sophie, the hound mutt, to Otis, the gigantic coonhound yellow lab mix, and Stinkerbell – the long-haired chihuahua mutt who warmed her way into our hearts when Scott found her tucked beneath a tire well.”
When we photographed Morgan’s family, we were documenting the morning of two work-from-home parents. Since the shoot, Morgan accepted a full-time office job, plus Delilah started kindergarten, so their mornings have changed drastically. But on this particular morning, like all the mornings before it, Morgan woke up at 7am for some alone time— her favorite part of what is now her old routine.
“I get up at 7am, and I can usually steal a half hour before Delilah follows, sometimes more. I check social media and load/unload the dishwasher. I use the time to think, and usually sit outside with my coffee and be idle.”
The night before the shoot, Delilah came into their bed in the middle of the night so that’s where she woke up. Morgan says that Delilah usually wakes up naturally on her own, “but with school starting it’s been us dragging her out of bed”.
Scott wakes up next and takes responsibility for the dogs before joining Delilah on the couch.
Then the family spends the morning watching cartoons, doing an art project or practicing letters before getting dressed and having breakfast.
I asked Morgan if the workbooks were something they used often, mainly because Dee and my daughter are the same age and I haven’t started using anything like that yet.
“That’s something we started on our own last year to work on Dee’s motor skills. I’m a crappy pretend player so art and coloring are a big part of our mornings when there’s down time, which there will probably never be again now that she’s in elementary school.”
Morgan made pancakes that morning because Delilah had earned them as a reward for going to bed on time the night before.
I asked Morgan if they typically sit down for breakfast as a family.
“No, that was hilariously a freak occurrence I’m sure because we were being watched. We do actually eat together most days, but we usually do it copping a squat on the couch, and it’s usually not all the same meal unless Scott or I make something special for a reward.”
If you are wondering about the papers Morgan was looking through during breakfast, that was her Buzzfeed offer.
I asked Morgan how much time she spends on her phone and her laptop in the morning, because as a fellow blogger, I know that’s something I struggle with.
“A LOT. I try to be present for Delilah and keep the laptop closed, but I am definitely answering emails and stressing about the things that need to be done throughout the routine.”
Morgan and Scott both play a part in getting Delilah ready for camp.
Delilah’s hair is often a point of contention.
“She’s very intense about it — always wants to wear it down but it gets to be a tangly mess. That morning, Scott brushed her hair, and then later I convinced her to wear a ponytail for sports camp. Scott does a lot of hair brushing, but the styling falls to me.”
I don’t usually talk about home decor but I had to ask Morgan about the design of her amazing space. It feels like the polar opposite of my modern apartment in Manhattan.
“The style is mid-century California modern. We specifically sought out an untouched house from that time period. Ours is actually a duplex, side by side. The house itself was built in 1965 by two architect brothers who were marrying sisters and wanted to live side by side — and everything in it is still original — counter tops, the wood wall, the bar, the bathrooms — it’s like living in a time capsule in the best way.”
Morgan says getting out of the house is always stressful for them. “Both Scott and I naturally run slow and late and Delilah is following in our footsteps.”
Originally, Morgan described her mornings as “hectic and fast”, but Raquel said Morgan’s morning was “super chill” with no urgency until it was time to leave.
“The shoot definitely made me realize how much down time we actually had when there was someone there waiting for us to do something. It also made me think that maybe we’re always late because we relish our leisure time just a little too much?”
Their laid back mornings have taken a big hit since the shoot. Before the summer, Morgan had nowhere to be until she dropped off Delilah at preschool at 10:40am. At the time of the shoot, she needed to drop off Delilah at camp at 9am before she returned home to work.
But with Morgan’s new office job and kindergarten starting recently, Scott now handles Dee’s drop-off at 8am. It seems, much like their mid-century modern home, the morning we captured is also part of their LA time capsule.
“I’m really grateful the opportunity to capture our morning came at such a pivotal time. The routine in the pictures has vanished into the past and has been replaced by what feels like a whole new life. My anxiety has made the last five years of working at home feel hectic and fast, and it’s amazing to have had someone capture the beauty and peace we had together during those years when neither Delilah or I had anywhere urgent to be.”
I hope Morgan finds the beauty in her new mornings too.
This post is part of the “Monday Mornings” series sponsored by Allstate. Every family has a special morning routine, and as we continue this journey of documenting different mothers across the country, it’s clear that there is beauty in all of our mornings. As the nation’s largest publicly held insurance company, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most—but to guiding families to live the Good Life, every day.