I hope that on this day you smile.  That, regardless of whether you’re celebrating a holiday, regardless of your religion, regardless of what is going on in your life, that you’re able find something today that gives you joy.  That, between the messages we receive about what this day should be and everything we’re told we must enjoy today, you find whatever it is that brings you happiness.

Life is hard. Damn hard. And, I think we all need a chance to step back and give ourselves credit for the previous year: to remember the good and file away the lessons we’ve learned from the rest. And, to smile. To be happy for what we have, to give thanks, to spend a day reveling in our fortune, no matter how big or how small. To find the good and to let go of the rest.

That’s what I’m doing today.

*A big, fat thank you to Erik Dixon for making us look so pretty and to Dave Martinez for lending a last-minute hand.  If you need a photographer in Atlanta, give one of them a call. Seriously, they rock.

One Year

One year ago, I wondered who you’d be.   What you’d be named.  Whether you’d match up to the vision I had in my head of a female version of your brother:  dark hair, big brown eyes and olive skin.  I imaged your fat little hands and the creases in your legs where the skin just couldn’t contain the pudge beneath it.

One year ago I had no idea that you’d be nothing like I expected.  That we’d name you something that wasn’t even on our list until just before you were born and that it would end up suiting you perfectly.  That you’d sleep for 7 hours a stretch at only 6 weeks old and, at a year, for 12 hours a night consistently.  Or that you’d be a petite, tiny little thing and you’d resemble your father much more than me: his big light eyes, his fair skin, his lighter hair.  I didn’t imagine that you’d ever have issues gaining weight or how, once we moved to solid foods, you’d skip baby food entirely and move straight to steak and salmon.

One year ago, I wondered how your brother would react to no longer being the center of attention all the time – if he’d be able to stand sharing us with someone else.  I had no idea that he would not only welcome you but love you as fiercely as we do.  That, after having the stomach flu he would beg to kiss and hug you and that, on the day I finally deemed him well enough to do so, he’d smother you with love the moment I brought you downstairs in the morning.

One year ago, I didn’t realize it was possible for my heart to love two children so intensely and yet so equally.  I didn’t know how my heart would swell when you first clapped your hands or waved goodbye.  Or how I’d laugh every time the two little stubs of your front teeth peek out when you smile.  Or how I’d melt while watching you and your brother play peek-a-boo.

One year ago, I had no idea how much more my life would be enriched.  How, each day, it would be so much harder to leave for work and how much more excited I would be to come home.  Or how every emotion I already felt would be multiplied exponentially.

One year ago you joined us.  And I’m so incredibly glad you did.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl.

A Letter to My Parents

Thirty-eight years ago, at around 5 pm, a doctor proclaimed, “It’s a girl!” then handed over a tiny little baby, your firstborn.

Now that I’m a mom, I know just how amazing that moment is – how powerful it is to experience having created that life. And how it changes you in a very profound way.

I also know how quickly it goes by. How you revel in each moment (even those in which your daughter, during her father’s first attempt at babysitting solo, smears the content of her diaper all over her crib and walls) because you know those moments are fleeting – and that they’ll provide great fodder for laughs once she’s older. I know how it feels to fear each birthday a little bit because your children are becoming more independent – and because they don’t need you quite as much as the year before.

Now that I have children I know how much you worry about who they’ll become. How you hope every day that you’re doing what’s right for them – that you are building them into the best versions of themselves. And how you secretly pray that they have an average, boring life – not because you want them to lack excitement or adventure but because, the older you get, the more you realize that being “normal” is pretty darn good.

And now that I have children, I know what a great job you did. I appreciate the sacrifices. I’m thankful for the lessons. And, while I know you wonder where you went wrong when in some areas (especially when it comes to things like, say, politics) I hope you look at me and feel satisfied and proud. I hope you realize that you gave me a great foundation and that I appreciate your support then, now and always.

Happy 38th Anniversary of your becoming parents. I’m so glad you’re mine.

6 Months

The other day I took you on a  walk.  You were strapped to me – your legs around my waist and your head resting on my chest.  As I walked around the block on an oddly mild June day, your tiny little body perfectly nestled into mine, I found myself thinking, were I younger and wealthier, I’d definitely have another child.

The fact that you’re only six-months-old and the the idea of another child doesn’t send me to the liquor cabinet?  That’s a testament to you, my little angel baby.

It’s been difficult trying to keep up with these letters and often feel like I’m gushing about the same things over and over again – how much I love you, how sweet you are or how blessed I am.  And, while I could recount the moments that aren’t so lovely (like how you’ve realized that life goes on while you sleeps  – a significant and definitive issue for you as you do not want to miss out on ANY fun, resulting in a bedtime screaming session with a passion usually reserved for something truly abhorrent like, say, the dentist) the truth is, those moments pale in comparison to the whole.  At least once a day I have a moment when just being with you and your brother makes me completely and totally full.

You’re determined not to let your brother’s massive personality outshine you and are already giving us glimpses of a happy, outgoing, energetic girl.  Your laugh is infectious – it’s the tiniest chuckle that sounds almost like a cough or the start of a good cry – and you think blowing raspberries is the funniest thing in the world.  You watch me as you lie on your changing table, blowing spit everywhere, just to see if you can make me smile.  It works every time.

You can sit upright but you’re so eager to move – to get down on the ground and scope out everything – that sitting holds very little interest.  And, now that you can slide yourself across the floor, things are about to get very, very interesting.  For all of us.

When someone calls your name from the other side of the room, you look at them intensely with those gorgeous blue eyes – those eyes, which like most everything else about you, are all your father.  There isn’t a day that goes by in which someone doesn’t comment on your eyes.  And there’s nothing better than seeing you get excited the minute I get home from work – it’s one of the best parts of my day.

Each evening, while I nurse you and rock you to sleep, I wonder who you and your brother will be when you’re older.  I worry about being a good enough mother – about providing the support you need and enough discipline to keep you out of harms way but not so much that you fail to learn lessons of your own.  I hope that you’re happy – that life grants you as much as its granted your father and me – and that you can appreciate just how much we all have.   I feel torn between the excitement over watching you grow and the desire to keep you my babies as long as possible but, I try to let it all go – to enjoy the moments and to give you as much love as possible because, right now, that’s all I can do.

Thank you for giving us an incredible, albeit warped speed, 6 months.  We love you little princess.

Getting Back on the Horse

For the past two years I’ve donated a session to my son’s school fundraiser auction. A few weeks ago the families that won those sessions (one last year and one this year) collected on them.

It was a perfect spring day but, truthfully, I felt rusty.  I’ve put my photography on hold and I felt the effects.  It felt hard getting ready (Which gear do I bring?), I felt unsure of my abilities once I got there (Could I still do this?) and as I started it all felt a little unfamiliar (What do I normally say to clients in this situation?).  But slowly I hit a groove and, within a few minutes, it all came back to me.  I paused at one point and took note:  I felt a giddy excitement and knew I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing with my Saturday morning.  Forgive the hyperbole but it was bliss.  I knew at that moment that no matter what I decide to do about photography – whether I pursue it again or it remains a hobby – it will always be something that’s part of my life, that I hold dear, that I love.

It was so great to photograph two families in a spot that means so much to them.  I loved seeing an old friend and her family – and getting to know a new one.  And it reminded just how much I love interacting with people, building a level of trust with the person being photographed – whether they’re 3 or 103 – that allows them to relax enough that their true essence comes through in the images.  It’s not the “cheese” moment – it’s the moments before them, the moments before when they’re deep in thought or after when they’re laughing about whatever ridiculous thing it is I just made them do.  Those are the moments I love:  those are the moments that life is all about.

Thanks to both beautiful families for the reminder and for getting me back on the proverbial horse.