“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. This is our third stop in Los Angeles.
Anna is a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer who lives in Hollywood with her husband Chris, their 21 month-old Noah and their new baby Rose, born just three weeks ago.
“We are far from a ‘Hollywood’ family – we’re not rich or glamorous and we don’t work in the entertainment industry. We’re very real. I mean, we’re so real, I can tell you I haven’t washed my hair in almost two weeks. That’s glamour, right there!”
Anna says their duplex is large by NYC standards “but seems to get smaller and smaller with each loud and annoying plastic toy that enters our door.”
One of the interesting things about a lot of the mothers we are featuring in this series is that they are in a state of transition and often at the beginning of figuring out a new morning routine. There are few things more life-altering than a new baby in the house.
Prior to Rose’s arrival, Anna was successfully managing a freelance writing career and regularly updating her blog (Misadventures in Motherhood) while taking care of Noah at home. She is now questioning whether this juggling act is still viable with two kids.
“Somehow with just Noah, I was able to blog five days a week, work freelance jobs and keep up with daily life stuff. But now that Rose is here, there never seems to be a time when they are both sleeping for a decent stretch so that I can get some work done. I AM NOT SUPERMOM.”
Prior to the shoot, Anna described her mornings as “busy, messy and chaotic” and talked about how she was very critical of herself and her parenting style.
“We’re constantly inundated with images of perfect moms, be it Hollywood stars and their post-baby bodies and designer nurseries, or Pinterest images of perfect birthday parties, it’s so hard not to compare yourself to all of this and come up incredibly short.”
Chris works in the restaurant business and has a very unpredictable schedule (“sometimes he leaves REALLY early in the morning, and sometimes he works REALLY late at night”) but most days, he is able to wake up with Noah at 7am, allowing Anna a little more time in bed.
“My husband is the one who gets up with Noah and makes him breakfast. He’s been doing this since the very beginning which is pretty much the only thing that kept me from going insane with sleep deprivation.”
“They have a really cute little morning bonding thing going.”
While Chris and Noah are together downstairs, Anna stays in bed with Rose. “I enjoy having the time in the morning to sit quietly with her after nursing. She usually gives me a big good morning smile!”
After feeding and changing the baby, Anna takes her downstairs to “join the breakfast shenanigans.”
Then she drinks coffee while answering emails for her husband’s business.
“Part of what makes our mornings so hectic is that I try to help Chris with miscellaneous work stuff before he leaves, and I also have to finish up my work stuff that didn’t get done the day before, so this can be a real challenge while simultaneously juggling two kids.”
Anna says the picture of her and Chris managing the kids while using the computer is the perfect illustration of their typical morning.
Throughout the rest of morning, Rose switches from nursing to napping and back to nursing again.
“I would like to tell you that I am one of those women who knows how long and which side she breastfed, with charts and schedules, but I’m not. I had every intention of being that kind of mother and I even purchased two apps for my phone to facilitate this, but it was all for naught, as the exhaustion and the business of day-to-day life got the better of me.”
Coincidentally, Anna’s father-in-law is Ken Heyman, the photographer who took the 50-year-old black and white photos of motherhood that went viral on the Huffington Post a few weeks ago.
“We both thought it was such a freaky coincidence that Ken’s photos of Motherhood went viral at the same time I was randomly chosen to participate in a project that’s kind of similar. Life is wacky that way.”
Anna loves being with her kids but also misses her life before children.
“Sometimes Noah is being difficult and all I think about is the hours stretching ahead of me until bedtime. There are so many dichotomies to motherhood – the joy of being a mother, but also the mourning of the life you used to have. I liked my life when I could go out for happy hour with friends and not worry about getting home for bedtime… However, there is nothing better than cuddling with my son or seeing my daughter smile. Those moments make it all worth it.”
After Chris leaves for work, Anna tries her best to have both kids down for a nap at 10am.
Then she takes advantage of those few precious moments to get herself dressed and tidy up, but is still struggling to find enough quiet time to write.
“What I hoped to accomplish that morning was a pitch for a freelance article, a start to a blog post and a shower. I’m almost positive none of these things were accomplished.”
When Anna looked through her photos, she was surprised by how they slowed everything down and took away the feeling of chaos. “I didn’t expect our morning to look so calm!”
She also said she didn’t look nearly “as horrendous as I thought I would”.
But I think Anna’s final takeaway is the most important.
“The main thing that surprised me was that I appear to be really present for my kids. I always feel like because I’m juggling work with being a stay-at-home mom that I’m not giving them enough of my focus – there’s an email that needs to be responded to, or a phone call that has to be taken – but I can see from the photos that when I’m with them, I do my best to be there for them. Thank you for assuaging some of my Mommy guilt!”
When asked what three adjectives she would use to describe her morning now, Anna’s conflicted feelings about motherhood faded for the moment. She responded…
“Loving. Peaceful. Joyful.”
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.