The mother of a teenager and a toddler and stepmother of a ‘tween, I’m a full-time working mother also devoted to starting a new business. Aside from the demands of our jobs and raising our blended family, my husband and I enjoy everything from beach days, picnics at local wineries, visiting museums and walks with our kids, to cooking and motorcycles (him) and reading and photography (me)
Location? Santa Barbara, California
Occupation? In the past year I’ve started my own photography business. I’m spending most of my free time shooting and developing my portfolio, and have delved right in to some personal projects I’m truly in love with. That’s how I tend to be though: immersing myself totally in whatever it is that has my passion. I specialize in on-location, natural light children’s photography, and also serve families. My images are real and un-posed. I’m trying to balance the development of my business with my full-time job, where I manage the communications for a nonprofit, national wish-granting organization for terminally ill adults. And my favorite, most important job is as a mother.
5 favourite things/items? I don’t consider myself very materially connected. I don’t have very many things and most of what I do have isn’t super significant to me. Aside from my two cameras (a Canon DSLR and iPhone) and my MacBook Pro, I would say my material treasures are a silhouette of my daughter my sister had made on to a pendant for me; anything my children wrote, drew or made me; cards and letters from my mom; and family photos.
What are you most passionate about? Photography. And my children. And combining the two, well that’s my very favorite. My son is a teenager, heading to high school in the fall. My days with him are fleeting and I want to remember and be present for them all. My youngest is three and she’ll be my last baby. I can say the same about my fleeting days with her because as we all know, we’ll wake up tomorrow and our babies will be grown up, too. My kids are my artistic muse, as I think is common among many mother/photographers. There’s an expression of love in the images I capture of them that satiates my soul as an artist.
Do you have any hobbies/things you do in your downtime? I don’t think there’s such thing as downtime, at least for me. I’m the type of person who can’t stop going. At 35 years old I’m just now recognizing that and teaching myself to be aware when I start taking on too much… and then to trim back. I really love taking pictures and editing, Instagram, writing, reading, exploring tide pools with my kids or catching the sunset (with a glass of wine) on the beach, hiking, exploring, traveling… I would love to get massages, pedicures, facials and have a garden. Take care of myself a little more. And maybe some day I will when I can find my downtime.
How would you describe your family? We’re a blended family. My husband and I each have a child of our own and we have a daughter together. The older kids split their time between us and their other parents. Fortunately, everyone works well together and is a positive force in everyone else’s life. Our kids certainly have large, extended and loving families. Scheduling can be a nightmare though and requires keeping a detailed calendar!
How did becoming a mother change you? I was 21 when I had my son. I was a senior in college, graduated two weeks after he was born and carried him with me to receive my diploma. From there I went straight to graduate school, repeating that same process of walking in a commencement ceremony with my child in my arms; that time he was two. Needless to say, I became a parent at the very same time I became an adult. I don’t really remember life before Isaac. Before him, I was a child. So I guess it changed me in that it propelled me to grow up instantly. I was a single mother at the time, got an apartment for the two of us after grad school, began working three jobs to make ends meet and just kept my nose to the ground. I’ve always been intent and focused. And in becoming a mother I think that saved me.
What’s the best part about being a mother? I adore the 10-year age difference between my son and daughter. And I adore the vastly different relationship I have with each of them simultaneously. With Isaac, our age gap seems to be narrowing as he gets older. We’re often mistaken for siblings, we can have fun together sort of like peers, yet I still go to sleep at night knowing my baby is tucked in in his room. With Francesca, I’m reliving lots of the milestone moments I experienced the first time around, but either forgot or was too busy surviving to pay much notice to. I never thought I would have a second child so I take each day with her as an incredible gift. Although sometimes, when life starts going too fast, I have to stop and remind myself of that. The best thing about being a mom is relating to my children on their different levels… meeting the needs they have at such different phases of life.
Naming your children is always so difficult (or maybe it was just me!) Was it easy to pick your child’s name and why did choose it? Isaac Walker: With Isaac, I knew his middle name would be Walker because that’s my mother’s maiden name and I never considered not having a family name for my kids. My mom and I are very close, and I knew it would be a special gift for her and that whole side of my family. Isaac’s dad and I could not decide on a first name to save our lives! The best we found ourselves was stuck in a rut between Isaac and Owen. We actually emailed close friends and family and asked them to vote; Isaac came out on top!
Francesca Ann: Likewise with the middle name for Francesca, I knew it would also be a family name. Her middle name is Ann, after my grandmother, my mother and my sister. I love that she’s the fourth generation with that name. My husband suggested Francesca over lunch the first weekend we found out I was pregnant. It was never a name I’d have thought of, but I loved it the instant he said it. It was decided then and there and no more discussions of girls’ names ever took place.
Favourite thing to do as a family? I love to be outside with my kids, enjoying the beach, hiking, exploring new outdoor spaces. I feel that lots of childhood innocence and magic have gone missing in today’s technology-charged world. I feel it’s my duty as a mother to unplug my children and transport them places that allow their creative spirits to emerge. Recently I took my 10-year-old stepdaughter to the beach at low tide. She immersed herself in a make-believe island world, clamoring from rock to rock, traveling deeper and deeper in to the ocean. She touched sea anemones and sea slugs, gathered shells and sea glass… I saw her mind and imagination open. And I feel it was the best gift I could have given her that day.
What has been the most memorable moment for you in motherhood so far? How ‘bout proudest? Teaching my son to ride a bicycle without training wheels. That moment when he was four at the park, I was running alongside the bike with my hand on the seat and then let go and he kept going… that’s such a quintessentially All-American “parent moment” for me. But it’s usually the dad, at least in my mind. That was back in my single mom days, which I think caused it to make me even more proud. It was the exact thing you see on commercials or in movies growing up… the parent letting go and the kid wobbling away on the bike. And that was me, and it was real. It’s a silly little thing, but that moment nine years ago is still one of the most vivid memories I have.
What is the one thing you want to teach your children? To be true to yourself. If something’s not working in your life, it’s up to you to fix it. Whether that means readjusting and trying a new strategy or giving up on it all together. That being said, I don’t believe anything important should be given up on in haste. Think longterm. Search your soul. If something is meaningful to you, really, really try to make it work. That way, if and when you move on and adopt something new, you’ll know it wasn’t for a lack of heartfelt and dedicated effort. You’re accountable to yourself for your actions and decisions. Be real and be honest about that.