“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 final stop and last mother in the series.
Roxie and her husband Armand live in Rockville Maryland, about 20 minutes outside of DC with their three-year-old son Armand Jr. (AJ) and their newborn Jackson.
“I grew up in the Bay Area, California so I was looking for some place similar on the East Coast— near the city, but not in it, very diverse, with great schools for my kids.”
Roxie is currently on maternity leave from her full-time job as a Business Development Manager for a big technology company. Although the job is very demanding, the flexibility allows Roxie to work from home, unless she has a meeting with a customer.
Armand works as an Attorney for the Government and typically does not get home until their kids’ bedtime. Because of this, Armand handles “90% of the morning routine” as that is his only opportunity to spend time with the boys during the week.
When Raquel arrived at 6am, Roxie was in the middle of nursing Jackson.
When she was done, she took him back to bed with her so that they could both sleep a little longer.
Before she went back to sleep, Roxie woke up Armand so that he could begin his morning routine with AJ.
The timing of their morning varies from day to day, depending on how AJ has slept the night before. At 15 months, AJ was diagnosed with epilepsy and his medication often wreaks havoc on his sleep.
“For the last few months, AJ has been waking up between 2am and 3am (despite using two sleep consultants to try to help) and 95% of the time he does not go back to sleep until 5 or 6am. If this occurs, we wake him up at 8am to get ready for school. If he sleeps through the night (which unfortunately only happens once every few weeks), we get him out of his room any time after 7am.”
Roxie was candid about how they dealt with AJ’s diagnosis.
“I will never forget how I felt when the neurologist confirmed that AJ had epilepsy. As a mom you would walk through fire to protect your babies, so watching your amazing, loving, beautiful child have a seizure and not being able to do anything about it is heart wrenching. I became depressed and could not talk about his diagnosis without crying. I worried about his seizures impacting his development and his future. Since his diagnosis we’ve been back at Children’s Hospital more times than I could ever imagine. Being there immediately helps me gain perspective and puts gratitude in my heart. There are so many amazing kids at the hospital who happen to be sick, but are happy and thriving just like my little superhero AJ.”
Roxie’s main reservation about the Monday Morning shoot was that AJ would be cranky due to lack of sleep. Fortunately, Raquel arrived after a good night and AJ was his playful and good-natured self.
While Roxie and Jackson sleep, Armand wakes AJ up and together they get ready for the day.
Armand gets AJ’s breakfast ready while AJ plays with his trains in the other room. AJ loves Thomas the Tank Engine and is “fascinated with every transportation vehicle— trains, planes, spaceships, etc.”
Then Armand sets AJ up in his high chair to eat breakfast, allowing Armand to have time to iron and put on his suit.
When AJ is done eating, Armand takes him down to play with his trains again so that he can make himself a smoothie.
Then Armand alternates between playing with his son and getting him dressed and ready for the day.
Roxie talked about how she sets everything up for Armand the night before so that he can really maximize his time with his boys.
“It is very important for Armand to be ‘present’ for our sons, so I try to make mornings as easy as possible for him. I lay out AJ’s clothes the night before, make sure he has his water bottle, coat, hat, etc. ready to go and Armand feeds him virtually the same breakfast every morning.”
Roxie sets an alarm for 8:30am, which is her cue to wake up, get dressed and then come downstairs to help Armand with the rest of the routine, like wrangling on AJ’s shoes and packing his lunch.
She also likes to make sure she has time to play with AJ before he leaves for a full day at his Montessori school.
“AJ is an introvert who appreciates a balance between independent and group activities. I chose the Montessori approach because it does not force young kids into a regimented schedule. AJ is able to develop his skills and abilities at his own pace.”
Jackson woke up at around 8:50am giving AJ the opportunity to say goodbye to his brother.
“Jackson is fascinated with his older brother. They already have a special bond and its the best feeling in the world to see it develop and blossom.”
At 9am, Armand and AJ head out the door.
Typically, this is when Roxie hops on her computer and geta to work, but since she is on maternity leave, her plan was to take Jackson to a mommy meet-up group.
Roxie thought the pictures were adorable (“outside of my added baby weight!”) and especially loved the photos of Armand playing with AJ.
“Armand is very aware of showing warmth and love to both of our boys and it definitely shows in the pictures. He does not want our sons to think that men do not show emotion, so he makes an extra effort to hug, kiss, and play with them. A strong relationship between a father and his sons is so important, and watching Armand with AJ and Jackson makes me fall in love with him again and again.”
When I had originally asked Roxie for her three adjectives to describe her morning, she threw the question over to Armand, since he’s the one who handles the majority of the routine.
He said, “busy, planned and hurried.”
When I asked Roxie what adjectives she would use to describe her mornings after seeing the photos, she asked Armand again for his answer.
He revised his adjectives to, “loving, fun, and special”.
Roxie had this to say about her husband.
“Armand is an amazing father! It warms my heart to see the great relationship he has with both of our boys. I truly hope my sons grow up to be just like their father one day.”
I agree that Armand is a wonderful Dad, but personally I think Roxie is underestimating her role in the routine. She seems to be an amazing mom as well.
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.