To Dig + Find

Beauty is not enough for me. it has to be mine. it has to be disguised, and then uncovered and delighted in, by me. this home, the art, the light, the aesthetic of every detail, it is stunning. I keep capturing moments of us, but mainly the girls, in this space that is not my own, because, it's beautiful, and yet still, it is not enough. it's too obvious which is somehow less rewarding. what i would give to have had someone capturing the four of us smashed into a one bedroom apartment, the place Bijou was born, between the awkward space that was neither kitchen or living room, because really it was just one small room. That season where it was so damn hard and sometimes heartbreaking. When I cried myself to sleep at night, wondering how we would make ends meet, and eat. How i was going to be the mama i wanted to be, and wondered if my marriage would survive. Those days my back ached from rocking them, sometimes for hours. there was no rocking chair, no baby gadgets, few toys, no nursery. Ever. Just all four of us in one room. And it was breathtaking beautiful because it was mine. I’m starting to understand that I crave and need raw, uncovered, disguised beauty. The kind you have to dig to find.

Last week I tried to take a portrait of Bijou and I as I rocked her to sleep. It was my attempt to capture a part of motherhood I have yet to document. It was an attempt to say yes I rocked them, patiently and impatiently, calmly and frantically, and sometimes peacefully and reflectively. I realized I didn't have something to show for all those hours, and all that heart and soul. But it really did no good because the walls were too clean, and I never had a comfortable chair. I just looked so damn comfortable. I was never comfortable, I Just had my body and all it's contradictions, and informal beauty. But I was happy, most days and some days were laced with disappointed and regret but often covered with a surprising promise. It was layered, upon layers that not even one single photograph was able to capture. So now I wonder what the point is. Am I trying to capture the depths, and the full spectrum? Who are these photographs for? Are they for me, or for my daughters?  My story or my therapy, my catalyst or my perspective...

Now I struggle a lot with the choice and decision to capture, or let be, and let go. I realize every moment doesn’t need to be captured and I don't always want it to, but for someone who has been an avid documenter, a life long preserver of memories, it’s hard for me to let intangible things remain just that. But I’ve been working through what photography means to me. What role do I want it to have in my life. Is it my memory keeper, my art, my way to help provide for my family? Can it be all of these without loosing soul? Yes, of course, but what do I want? What is my motivation, and are my memories enough, just for me? And isn't there something beautiful about hazy memories trapped between imperfect words and punctuation? I think so...

But also, I  hope that my children look at my photographs one day, and they can see that the details of them that I fell in love with. I hope they can see that I dwelled on and savored what mattered most. I hope they can gather that I prolonged traditions and favored process over product. Prep, over meal time. Mundane over milestones. I hope they can see that I welcomed the full spectrum of emotions and didn't save "pretty" or "happy," just for photos. But more than anything I hope they know this from living the day in and day out with me. I hope they know me deeply and fully because I shared my heart every moment, not through my photographs or words, days, weeks or years later. Mostly, I feel like I do, but mothers and their children often have contrasting perspectives, especially in hindsight. So after unraveling my thoughts I suppose a lot of this is for them. But also, It's how I press and filter the joy through the hard stuff. My french press is the image that comes to mind. The raw, the bitter, the balance. In it's most natural state somehow it's always sweet to me. 

Of course, I hope that when I look at pages upon pages of the photo books I and laugh and cry and feel a sense of peace and contentment. I hope it feels like my life has been preserved. I hope that the intangible beauty that I fall madly in love with every single day, comes a little closer, a little longer, and maybe even lasts forever. But i think more than any of that, it's my catalyst for delighting in the disguised, unkept beauty of my life. Maybe that's enough. Even just for now...