This is: September (a video)

Posted: September 4, 2015 by Rachel

You can always count on me to take a photograph. I’ll take thirty if you let me.

But lately, I have felt a tugging at my bones to try something new, and to open myself up in a different way. This is: my attempt at a beginning. This is: September.

August 1

Posted: August 1, 2015 by Rachel

When we bought this chair I used to sit in it in the darkness of the freshly painted nursery, rubbing my seven month pregnant belly and wonder what it would feel like to nurse my son right in that spot. And once we stopped nursing I thought about how it would feel to sit with him on my lap and read to him in that chair. Now I catch glimpses of what he will look like as he grows and uses that chair for other things like reading on his own, listening to music, maybe just sitting and enjoying life.

This morning we heard him playing in his room but things had gotten quiet so I poked my head around the corner to see him sitting there, his one leg tucked against his chest, his blanket in a bunch on his lap, his hands crossed just so, the light filtering in from the window beside him…

He just looked so beautiful that I ran for my camera, actually sprinting down the stairs and back up again, so happy to have captured this moment. I will hold it forever in my heart.

All the Dust and Debris

Posted: July 11, 2015 by Rachel

I was 16 when I fell in love for the first time, and like any young girl at that age, I thought he was the be all and end all. I had no idea that there would be others after him.

He was sweet and kind, with big, light brown eyes and a smile that made everything seem instantly better, and I loved him. For over four years, we loved each other.  And when our relationship came to its end, when it became clear that we weren’t meant to be forever, I lost more than the love of a boy. I lost the love of a village; of friends and family who had been so intertwined in my life that I didn’t know where I ended and they began.

Often times I’m grateful that I moved away; that I don’t have to worry about the memories associated with places, things and people. I spent too much of my twenties running away from my mistakes and regrets. Here in Vegas, there is only Dominic; there are only our places, our things, our people. And all the dust and dirt and debris from my past is back there in Canada somewhere, floating around, unnoticed.

And all that’s ahead of me is him, and us, and this family we have built.

A Messy Saturday

Posted: June 21, 2015 by Rachel

I was yelling. Dom was yelling. And DJ kept on crying, like he had been all day.

Some days I can breathe deeply, consciously, and calm myself down. Some days I can remind myself that he’s only two and that we’re all still learning to communicate with each other.

Today was not one of those days.

We were tired, the trio of us: from battling colds, ear infections, poor sleep and skipped naps. The 107 degree heat perhaps affecting us more than we realize. So: there was yelling.

At four-thirty, Dom called in reinforcements: his aunt, to relieve us for two hours so that we could step out and get our bearings on the day and our attitudes.

We went to the movies. Sat in the back row. Enjoyed some noise other than that going on at home.

And when we got home I lunged upstairs, desperate to catch DJ before he was asleep, overjoyed to find him waiting up in our bed. As Dom’s aunt slipped out, I pulled DJ close and whispered to him how much I love him.

I turned off all the lights, drew the curtains shut and lay down beside him, sighing deep from within my bones as he tucked his little body against mine, as close as he could get. His eyes were growing heavier by the second, fluttering shut and opening again only briefly to make certain I was still there, his mouth in a faint ‘o’ shape, pursed. With a deep sigh, he tucked his hand under his cheek, took one last look at me, and closed his eyes for the night.

I lay there in the near dark, staring at his perfect little face, and cried.

With every tear I released the guilt of the day, the weight of expectations, regret, and exhaustion.

No mama is perfect, and we’re all just trying to do the best we can, making what we can out of each messy day.

05 + 06 + 07 / 52

Posted: February 21, 2015 by Rachel

“A portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2015

DJ – You are so curious these days, wanting to touch everything, feel it, feel the weight of it all, how it feels in your hands, against your face. We’re running out of ways to keep you out of things. Our things have steadily been moved higher + higher, out of your reach, but we’re at our limits, now. If only you could understand, sweet boy, that there are always some things in life that are off limits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DJ – The second I snap a photograph, no matter if I’m trying to be sneaky or not, you perk right up and rush over to take a look at the back of the camera. You’re so adorable these days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DJ I’m sure that a lot of people would think I‘m nuts if I told them how many photos I have of you. But when I hand you a bowl of plain greek yogurt (your new favorite) and you dive in like this, I can’t help but round off ten shots. And yes, I will be keeping them all.

On Adapting

Posted: February 5, 2015 by Rachel

Hey mamas, I see you over there, hiding in your closet to shed your tears in peace. I’ve been there. Many times, in fact. It’s so damn hard, isn’t it?  This parenting thing? You’ve never felt so empowered and so defeated at the same time.

You finish the last of the three loads of built-up laundry only to find yourself back in the laundry room the very next day, and that corner of the living room that you cleaned up especially for you, so that you could have one single space in your house that you can sit in and not feel like a failure, is filled with toys once again.

I’ve been there.

I’ve been the mama crying silently in the shower as I rush to shave my legs that haven’t been touched in over a week. I’ve been the frazzled mama who shows up at the park with the toddler who would rather grab fists full of dirt than play.

The issue I’ve been struggling with, and maybe you have as well, is the belief that all of my problems will be solved if only I can find some kind of balance. But the truth is that I will never find balance. Working more will mean less time with son, and more time with my son means less money coming in. I will feel guilt no matter which way the wind blows. The grass is greener on both sides, mama.

I will never find balance, but I will find ways of adapting.

In March 2013 I came home with a 9lb 8oz newborn baby… and adapted. We were sleep deprived and mentally drained and we adapted. We suffered through thirteen months before my son slept through the night, and we adapted. I went back to work in August 2014, briefly, sending my son to daycare, and we adapted. I left the job after two months, and we adapted.

 

What I’m trying to say to you, mama, as you struggle to get some kind of breakfast prepared for yourself while your child screams at your feet, is to let go of the idea of balance. It doesn’t exist. But you can adapt, and you will. You’ll find your place. I’m still looking for mine, and that’s okay.

 

I’m here to tell you it will all be okay.

04 / 52

Posted: January 31, 2015 by Rachel

 “A portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2015

DJ – 
You are my everything, my sweet, darling, loveable boy. I’ll swallow these moments whole.

03 / 52

Posted: January 24, 2015 by Rachel

 “A portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2015


DJ – 
You found these cowboy boots tucked deep in your closet. They were handed down to us and are much too big for you, but you don’t seem disturbed. You love slipping your feet into them and clomping around upstairs for minutes on end.

02 / 52

Posted: January 17, 2015 by Rachel

“A portrait of my son, once a week, every week in 2015

DJ –
I am in constant awe of your personality that is shaping right in front of our eyes. Already, I see so much of your daddy and I in you, both good and bad traits. You make me so proud.

An Open Letter to my Son: Just be Yourself

Posted: January 13, 2015 by Rachel

Since before my son DJ was born in March 2013, I have been writing to him in the form of a book made up mostly of words of guidance that I hope he will hold dear to him as he grows older.

In this day and age, where we are inundated with “perfect” images of everyones’ “perfect” lives across social media, I found this particular letter to be of utter importance.

Son,

If you take away only one thing from this book, DJ, please let it be this: just be yourself.

You are good enough. Most people are afraid to do things because they are afraid they’re not good enough, afraid they’ll fail. But you are good enough — learn that and you won’t be afraid of new things, won’t be afraid to fail, won’t need the approval of others. You’ll be pre-approved — by yourself.

There will be people that cross your path that will try to tell you that you aren’t good enough – not smart enough, not pretty enough, or athletic enough. I’m here to tell you that whoever you are, the kind of person that you grow up to be, will always be enough. You will always be enough.

You will find out that there are people in life who feel poorly about themselves, and think that the only way they can build themself up and feel better about themself is by tearing others down. These people, DJ, are more insecure and confused about themselves than you could ever possibly be. Do not let them get you down.

Don’t be afraid of who you are. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, whoever that may be. DJ I promise you that there won’t be anything you can do to make your father and I stop loving you. Be proud of who you are and where you came from. You are the product of two parents who love you so fiercely and wholly. You were created in me, grown in me. You are a part of me, and my body. Nothing you can do would or could ever change that.

This next one can be tough, DJ. I know from personal experience that so much of growing up is discovering where you fit in, and so sometimes that means you try on a lot of different hats. Still, don’t try to be someone else, whomever you think you should be, meaning: don’t dumb yourself down for someone, or pretend to be into basketball, or ballet, or boxing, when you really aren’t. There is such a thing as compromise, yes, but it is different than claiming to like something when you don’t. Don’t pretend that you’re in to reading if you’re not. Don’t take an art class just to impress a girl, take it because it is something new and different and it will challenge you.

Just be yourself. You’re already amazing.