Not gonna lie. I feel as though a difficult season of mothering is about to be upon me. I know…that’s a heavy way of starting off a light-hearted blog…but sometimes Fakebook and Instaspam “reality” has to be defeated with a truth post. See – last week, I shot a senior session. I have loved every senior session I have shot because I adore meeting these child-grownups. Young adults poised on the precipice of leaving the safety net of mom and dad and making their own way in the world – they are so fascinating to me. I imagine their parents might have some truth to spout about how their baby is actually not quite ready to be a grown-up…but to me, the stranger behind the camera, all I see is grace and maturity. I leave every senior session thinking about how I look up to her mom.
I look up to her mom because she’s already been there. She’s so much further along in this parenting journey than I. She’s weathered the newborn sleeplessness, as have I. She’s walked through the toddler tantrums, as have I. She’s soothed through early elementary nightmares, as have I. She’s experienced middle school math defiance, as have I. But that’s where my experience ends. I don’t have a mature, well-spoken seventeen year old to show for all the heartache and the anxiety and muttered (or not so muttered) curse words. I’m not there yet. And so I look up to her mom and I pray that I can be the mom she must’ve been to produce such a wonderful human on her way to make her mark on the world.
Parenting is the most important job I never knew I wanted. Now that it’s here and I misstep EVERY DAY, I see how fragile this tightrope walk is. When my son came up to me yesterday, buried his (taller and taller every day) nose in my back, breathed in deeply, and then sighed, “You smell so good. So familiar,” my heart broke a little. I never want to forget that moment. Too soon, I will be the one he is running away from in his quest to attain greater freedom and independence. I look up to her mom because she’s teetering on that cliff right now. I can appreciate the exquisite ambivalence of that moment.
For now, I live in the in-between world of wanting them to stay little and dying for a moment to myself. I have frequently wished that I could straddle both worlds on alternating days – a day of mothering a newborn, a day of empty nesting, a day of mothering a tween, a day of empty nesting – back and forth, back and forth, so that I can both nurture an appreciation of those exhausting days from a place beyond them and enjoy those aggressive, pre-teen man hugs from a boy whose love language is physical touch. Is this other-wordly, magical thinking a possibility in any realm?? I look up to her mom. She’s been there and now she’s almost through it. I want to celebrate with her and weep for her.
Liz Viernes Photography is based near Columbia, Maryland, and specializes in motherhood, fresh 48, posed and lifestyle newborns and first year milestone portraits.