Becoming a mom was by far the most surprising, crazy, enthralling event of my life. So naturally, one of my favourite parts of photographing young families, maternity and beauty portraits has been to chat about motherhood with other moms. All the moms I chat with seem to have similar ups and downs, surprising and hilarious ways of balancing life/work/relationships. So in honour of mother's day coming up, I wanted to feature some of my clients and their approach to motherhood.
First up is the lovely Ashley. You may have seen her in her amazingly romantic Nicaraguan elopement to Ted and their newborn session. Ashley and I first met at yoga class and quickly became friends while sweating, giggling and groaning our way through classes. When she approached me about shooting their amazing nicaraguan elopement I was beyond excited to be part of their intimate wedding day. Ashley is the kind of woman who laughs quickly and easily and makes you feel at ease right away. She is now momma to the sweetest little babe, but I shall let her tell you about her journey in motherhood.
First off tell me about your munchkin (age, stats, awesomeness):
Kay Lila is 7 months old and at the super fun stage where she can sit up, babble, play & interact but is not crawling yet. Her awesomeness is off the charts, naturally.
What's the most surprising thing you've discovered about motherhood?
How fun it is! My friend Kelly said it best: “Parenting needs a new PR campaign”. I seem to recall hearing mostly horror stories of how new parents didnʼt sleep for 3 years and diapers were always exploding everywhere, so i was expecting to trudge uphill through alot of tough days...but it is actually amazing and very fun! She recently learned to put her soother in her mouth and its pretty much the most greatest thing I have ever seen, tied with her drinking water out of a cup. Maybe thats why people share bad stories-because they secretly know it rocks and want you to be pleasantly surprised too:)
What's your go to trick when all else fails and everything is falling apart?
I quit! When things get super crazy and Iʼm drowning, I quickly ʻorganize the messʼ (run through the house and stack the dirty dishes in the kitchen, throw all laundry in the laundry mountain, pile random papers/bills on the desk) so I donʼt have a constant reminder of the chaos staring at me from every room, then I check out. I play with Kay or we take Warner for a walk, something that makes us all happy.
How do you relax at the end of the day?
I would like to say I meditate but really, its sitting on the couch with Ted, drinking a mug of hot tea or a Dukeʼs Cider, while chatting, reading a book, or watching Netflix.
Do you have any family rituals you've incorporated into family time?
We do a lot of singing and dancing around here, which makes her laugh, which makes us sing and dance even more. We have made-up songs for almost everything that happens (diaper changing, jolly-jumping, bathtime, lotion application, etc); she likes these personalized songs best!
At bedtime she gets a private concert- Ted plays the guitar and I am the backup singer/ dancer, we hope she will join our band someday.
What's your go to beauty routine?
My lifelong makeup routine hasnʼt ever extended much beyond multiple coats of mascara and my recent fave is ʻthe Falsiesʼ by Maybelline, it works great and is inexpensive. If we are going out Iʼll use black liquid liner to make a little wing and fancy it up Mad Men style. When I am looking and feeling blah, I make a face scrub from a mix of sugar and honey and voila! - my skin looks refreshed & feels soft and beautiful again. Coconut oil is the moisturizer of choice for myself (and Kay)- I love that it is natural, absorbs quickly and smells delish. My hair is at an all-time long and can go 4 days between washes, making it very low maintenance. I often wear it pulled back from grabby little hands, usually in a super high bun, but lately I have been wearing it in a long side braid, which I think looks cool peeking out from under a hat.
What's your go to, need to throw clothes on and get out the door, wardrobe staple?
Hats! A cool hat will take the frump out of your outfit and makes you feel stylish when youʼre really wearing a pyjama top underneath your jacket.
What's the best advice you received as a new mom?
“If you were living in the middle of the forest and you didnʼt have any of those things, you and your baby would be just fine without them”. ~Denise
This is forever my mantra! I found the amount of things and gear available for babies to be seriously crazy and overwhelming yet it was tempting to feel the need to get everything so we could be the Best Parents Ever. Thinking of this helps me to not go overboard and I am reminded of its truth when I see her happily ripping up fistfuls of grass in the yard or completely mesmerized by my shoelaces.
“Donʼt read too many parenting books, it will screw up your natural parenting instinct.” Yup. Experience is the best teacher and its fun to figure it out yourselves.
How do you balance your life and life as a mom?
Being a mom is so (wonderfully) all-encompassing that I actually have to remove myself from her presence to feel like I have any ʻmeʼ time. So, I teach Ukrainian dance on Tuesdays (which I love), and get out for a baby-less hike, bike ride, or yoga class whenever I can. Also, keeping in touch with my girlfriends has been an essential part of maintaining my own identity. Its great because only about 5% of the conversation is about Kay and the other 95% of the time is spent talking about everything else that existed in our worlds before she came along. Donʼt get me wrong, I love talking about my sweet baby girl, but it is SO refreshing to have a giggle and chat about the Bachelor, the perils of shopping for jeans, and why it was a good idea to eat an entire chocolate bunny for breakfast.
What are your favourite mommy-time rituals?
I love our mornings together- she is very sweet when she wakes up and seeing her gummy little smile melts my heart! We play and chat, she practices standing and grabbing things and I give her a million smooches.
Also, we both love our post-bath ritual which includes a coconut oil massage and a song (of course).
Anything else you'd share about being a mom?
Breastfeeding can be hard! No one tells you this! You read about it and are led to believe it is going to be beautiful, natural, easy, & instinctual...but it might not be! In my personal experience, it was very difficult and took weeks to get the hang of it(13 weeks to be exact) and I was not expecting that at all. New moms should know that it is a learned skill, so be patient with yourself and your babe and ask for help!
Thank you so much Ash! I'm super excited to share more amazing mommas in the coming days and weeks. If anyone has any questions they'd like to add to the list let me know :)