Some of you know me and many of you don’t. Those of you who do know me probably know that homeschooling is something that caught my interest early on in my motherhood journey. It was always a topic that intrigued me but very definitely was not anything I ever had aspirations to do. I know myself and I know that I am far too selfish to take on the astronomical task of educating my littles. The freedom of it seriously appealed to me and I think I had dreams about this idealistic homeschooling life where we could go on these amazing, educational, wholesome field trips and take awesome vacations during the school year (when Disney World wasn’t inundated with all the school children on the planet). But yeah, no. It was never seriously on my radar. Until it was.
This morning at my beloved MOPS meeting, we had a highs and lows icebreaker conversation. Ok, so now you’re thinking to yourself, “Why is she in MOPS?? She has no preschoolers in her household (MOPS = Mothers of Preschoolers). Well. My local group has opened itself up to include a MomsNext chapter for those of us (*cough* me) who
can’t move on really enjoy our twice monthly breakfast where no tiny person needs anything meetings with moms who meet us right where we are in our lives. This is a group of women that I have really come to love and depend on and I’m so thankful that MomsNext is now an option at Forcey! (They’re not getting rid of me ever.)
My table group this year consists of moms who now have school-age children. So while we are surrounded on all sides by tables filled with moms who are either just starting their motherhood journey or are a few years in, our group bonds over emerging hormones or peer issues rather than potty training and being up all night with a newborn. This morning the discussion topic was high and lows – something every mom experiences, right?? Basically we were each asked to unveil something in our lives that we’re feeling really good about and then a place where we’re really struggling. Typically this type of conversation can be a little intense to have on the 3rd meeting of the year – some might call it a hardcore intimacy builder because you’re really opening yourself up to be vulnerable to women that you may have only met a couple times – but our table has the advantage of knowing each other a little better as we’re all MOPS veterans, thank you Jesus.
Without having any time to think it over or consider other highs/lows, I knew immediately what mine were. My high was homeschooling and my low was photography. It’s not what you’re thinking. Read on.
When Brandon and I decided early in the summer to homeschool, our reasons were varied. It’s not even really important what those reasons were…suffice it to say that the decision felt right to our family and the perceived benefits far outweighed the potential risks. That’s not to say that it was a decision that came easily. I cried a LOT. Like a lot. I think I cried more this past summer than I have in the past 10 years and it was crying at the drop of a hat so it got ugly sometimes. But we charged ahead and researched curriculums and mailed in the notification to our county and, man, any time I ran into another homeschool mom, I was interviewing her like I was Oprah and she was Gwyneth Paltrow. Every veteran homeschooler told me that if October or November rolled around and I felt like things were going amazing then I was probably doing something wrong 😳 Now, that may seem like discouragement to some but I actually took it as encouragement. To me, that said: no one’s got it together at the beginning of the journey so let go and let God and somehow it’ll all come together. And, by crackie, that’s what we’ve been doing. It hasn’t been easy and it sure doesn’t look pretty most days, but somehow, here we are on the 8th of October and we’re all still standing and we all still wake up every morning ready to go and, sure, there’s a lot of bickering and snarking (on all sides because #human) and we’re all still really trying to figure out what it’s supposed to look like – and trust that I’m going to try really hard to crack down on my children writing run-on sentences like the ones you’re currently wading through – but you know what? This. This was my high. Homeschooling. Because it hasn’t been the horror show that I was expecting it could be. It’s a lot of responsibility and stress and questions of ‘can I really do it’ and ‘will they get into college’ but it’s also 6 hours a day with my babies that I haven’t been getting the past five years and maybe, when they’re really in the throes of hormones in the next couple years, maybe I’ll be more of an influence on them than their peers and you know what? That matters to me. So. Surprise to myself and probably everyone who knows me: homeschooling was my high.
Want to know something even more surprising? Photography is my low.
Again, not what you’re thinking. It’s my low because the time I used to have to devote to it, I’m not getting anymore. I basically have zero time to give to my passion and it’s really bumming me out. The six hours a day I mentioned above? Those used to belong to photography. Now I’m lucky to have 3 hours twice a week to even glance at my website or devote to my blog. It really stinks. I miss it profoundly and what could’ve been is constantly on my mind. Back when we were seriously considering homeschooling but hadn’t yet cemented the decision, my business was one of the hugest reasons not to do it. In the end, I know that of course my children win and photography gets squeezed to the parts that are left over but it’s still a major loss in my life. This isn’t a sob story, however. Photography has my heart and I will get it back to a place of major importance in my life but in the meantime? My trust rests in God that He knows all things and is orchestrating my life so that everything that’s supposed to happen will and in their due time. So I have peace.
And there’s more. If you’ve been following along with my stories on Instagram (please follow! It’s juvenile but I’m so close to 1000 followers and it would be amazing to finally get there…), you know that we’re just beginning a major home renovation. The final product will be an Accessory Dwelling Unit for my parents. I put it in italics because that’s what my dad keeps calling it and every time I hear him say that I laugh because it reminds me of my mom who says “directional signal” instead of turn signal or my grandmother who used to call the trash “rubbish” and jeans “dungarees”. I digress. This Accessory Dwelling Unit will have a bedroom, bathroom, closet and sitting area and it will be attached to the main house by a three-season room. This space, God willing, will be where my parents live out their golden years and will give my father peace of mind that my mom will never have to live in a retirement home ever – that’s important to him (and, no, there are no imminent health challenges to either of them unless you count the fact that dad’s old knees really prefer not to climb stairs if they don’t have to and there will be no stairs in the ADU). Anyway, I’m documenting it all on Instagram (you can find everything that’s been done so far on the Home Reno highlights – there’s two already because apparently you can only have 100 stories per highlight and Good Lord I’m long-winded because we haven’t even started framing the thing out yet) so go check it out. And follow me (*cough* please).
Am I still writing? Goodness. Not even close to finished. Another amazing benefit of the ADU (totally only calling it that now because I find it so funny but at some point I’ll switch over to calling it their apartment) is that my photography studio, which currently takes up a small portion of our basement, will expand to include the entire main lower level. Right now, I share the space with Brandon’s exercise equipment but eventually, when my parents move to the ADU 🤪we’ll move up to the master bedroom, and his workout space will transition to the current basement bedroom. I’m beyond myself with excitement over this.
When I started my photography business, I photographed anything that moved, just for the opportunity to hone my skills. Over time, I realized that my passion lay with documenting motherhood and babies so I’m slowly steering my business in that direction. One of my dreams is to have an all-neutral home studio where I can capture newborns, young families, and first year milestones – and I’m praying that this dream will be realized by this time next year (and preferably sooner but I’m giving myself grace). As each stage of construction occurs (slo-o-o-w-ly), I see that dream taking shape and, although I’m frustrated with the loss of my past momentum, I’m keeping faith that I will eventually look back and see this time as a period of growth and grace.
The photos that I’ve sprinkled through this blog post come from a recent session I did with a family that I love ❤️Allie, the mom in the photos, is a former babysitting charge of mine (I still enjoyed watching The Little Mermaid with them on the evenings I would babysit – along with my older sister because I think I was maybe 10 or 11 – so disclaimer that I’m not as ancient as this probably makes me sound 😭). This year, when she reached out about photos, I had to tell her that I wasn’t doing 2019 fall sessions because of our new homeschooling journey. I wasn’t sure what our schedule or my stress level would look like so I just nixed any photo sessions that weren’t newborn, maternity or fresh 48. As fate would have it, we ended up coming back together and getting her family’s photos done despite my earlier reservations and I’m SO glad because I adore her family and because I really need to surround myself with people I love and who appreciate the photos I take for them. I hope she won’t mind me quoting part of the email she wrote to me after I delivered her gallery because it really reinforces why I do this:
“I value documenting this time of life so much and it makes me sad how much these two kiddos grow in a year! I completely understand why you didn’t do fall minis this year and thank you SO MUCH for doing these for us. I really cherish these pictures! (And if you ever walk through our house, all our family pics are basically a gallery of your work haha).”
Thank you, MOPS, for helping me crystallize the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head these past few months. We’re always going to experiences highs and lows…that’s what makes us human, right? And the lows allow us to appreciate the highs more than we probably would if they weren’t accompanied by a little bit of backtracking every now and then. And thank you, Allie and family (and all my clients!), for trusting me and sticking with me and allowing me to do what I love. Stay tuned for all the fun things ❤️
Liz Viernes Photography is based in Silver Spring, Maryland, and specializes in maternity, fresh 48, posed and lifestyle newborns and first year milestone portraits.