I’ve logged three newborn sessions in the last three weeks in my humble studio. I’ve logged even more hours doing the behind the scenes work of these sessions. (After the kids go to bed editing, anyone?)
But I can hardly be found behind the keys of this keyboard during the day. The reason is simple.
Our family’s wanderlust has come out of winter hibernation.
The temperatures rise to just 65 here in South Carolina and we are out the door and rolling in the backyard, riding on the bike trails, and roaming in the nearest wilderness we can find.
I am so grateful to have a profession that allows us to wander freely on the weekend.
You hear me tell stories about these crazy three (my reasons why!) as I capture your tiny ones. You may have even heard them stomping around like elephants with the babysitter during your session in the home studio.
Here they are in all their wild wanderlust joy.
Thank you for making this possible.
My girls turn 5 today. I’m breathless with the weight of their childhood passing so fast despite the days (and nights) sometimes seeming to be so slow.
I don’t have a lot of words about these sweet girls… but I do have a ton of photos. So let me tell you a little about each girl and then let the images speak.
My serious daughter. Love snuggles and affirmation. Introverted. Hilarious with her five year old logic. (“It’s okay, mama. We have to grow up. But when we do we’ll have babies and we’ll give you some to keep.”) Slowest eater on the planet. Perfectionist. Fearless on the bars at gymnastics. Daydreamer. Wants to know how the world works. Drinks life down with so much joy.
Vibrant. Serious leadership skills (“Mama, I just want to teach them how to play a new game, but they just won’t listen.”). Emotional. Dancer. Strong willed. Fierce hug giver. Learned to knit at 4 years old. Easy smile. Has never met a stranger and invites folks at the grocery store to her birthday party all the time. Compassionate: both of her siblings run to her for snuggles if they can’t find me.
Our Photo Session
The girls and I spent a morning at Taylors Mill, Due South Coffee, and Lake Robinson to capture them as they are right now. Then we finished with pizza with daddy. It was a very special day.
My girls turn 4 today.
I feel like I just wrote a novel with that simple statement. It’s sort of overwhelming.
In fact, it’s so overwhelming that I’m just now coming back to writing this many days later.
This year I have no words. So instead I’ll just write you each little love letters.
Sweet girl of mine, what you do or make does not have to be perfect to be beautiful.
Monday you nearly cried when you saw your sisters “m” written on the whiteboard. She has better fine motor skills that you do and you couldn’t stand thinking about how yours had barely resembled an “m”. Ballet camp nearly killed you with your teachers constant adjustments of your arms and legs. And today you pouted for 15 minutes because I caught you sucking your thumb for the first time in 5 days (apparently your Malva Stop wore off).
This may be the hardest lesson you will ever learn: nothing you do or say has to be perfect to be beautiful. In fact, there’s ample beauty in the imperfection. Do you hear me? There is beauty in your broken and imperfect attempts, beauty that no one but you is ever capable of creating. Be gentle with yourself and don’t compare who you are and what you are capable of with that never possible standard of perfection (or even the very different person beside you). I pray you’ll learn this early and I will say it to you each day until it sinks in.
Aeralind, I love when you sit right next to me and just talk. Your logic is hysterical and your commentary is well thought out. You’re quiet most of the time, but in those rare one-to-one moments, you just blossom.
I’m proud to be your mama. Keep growing and learning and exploring. Keep trying new things. And most of all keep being imperfect beautiful you.
Bronnie- girl, you’ve softened this last year. You’re still as strong willed as ever, but you’re beginning to learn how to follow. Today I was trying to teach you to write the letter S. I showed you a couple of times and had you trace and then I asked to help guide one with your hand. You wouldn’t have it. You tried on your own and then said “Now help me.” That first squiggle needed some work, and after a few drawn under a guiding hand, you were able to draw some of your own.
You’re becoming someone capable of thinking about the consequences of your actions. You don’t always think that way, but asking me to help after that first failed squiggle is just one of the new ways you’re able to use this skill. I can watch you thinking through the possible outcomes. I’m so proud of your growth.
You’re still using that strong will to your advantage though. I can watch you make a decision in a second and stick to it. The day the Malva Stop arrived you told me to apply and that you were done sucking your thumb. So I did. After your rest time, you came back upstairs and said “It won’t come off.” I haven’t seen you suck your thumb since. You were ready and you made that decision. It’s amazing to watch.
Lately you’ve been a regular chatterbox. You talk about anything, but your favorite subject of choice is anything regarding why. It’s not just “Why should I do this?” In fact, it’s more often like “Why is it that way? Help me figure it out.” Your curiosity is sometimes overwhelming, but it’s always welcome. You love to learn and I adore watching your eyes light up as things begin to click.
If I could say one thing to encourage you, sweet girl, it would be to keep leading others gently. Think about how they feel, ask their opinions, and create play (or anything else) that draws them in. You have a gift in that strong will of yours and I pray you’ll learn to use it.
“Mommy, I like your polka dots.”
Aeralind is reclining on my chest. She had just asked for and received a “big fat hug.”
(You know, where you lay on your back and your child lays on your tummy and both of you put your feet in the air and then you squeeze the mess out of them? Oh… you don’t know… I’m sorry. Go try it.)
She’s poking my face while she says this. Specifically, she’s poking my ever present zits.
You heard her right: she just told me she likes my pimples.
Aerie moves to the second cheek. “I like this polka dot, too,” she exclaims as she stabs a particularly painful zit. I really don’t know what to say. Usually I’m an educator… but in that quiet silly moment, I don’t want to tell her that zits are ugly, socially unacceptable, gross, and painful. So I stay hushed.
A week ago (or so), I had edited all of my polka dots out of an image of Aerie and I (and some stray peanut butter from Aerie’s hair).
Editing them out wasn’t wrong. I’m pretty sure Aerie will remember me with clear skin, because I don’t remember my mom having skin issues or hair issues or anything else.
Yet, my sweet Aeralind Grace, with her child-heart is telling me the very message that I preach here daily in this space (mostly to myself!).
My most beautiful moments (yours too) are the messy everyday vulnerable stories. Zits and all.
And more importantly, these messy moments are the intersections of grace.
I am loved by Aeralind and, more importantly, by the very God of the universe, zits and all.