I've been milling around ideas for a new photography project for a few weeks now, encouraged by Michael Jordan Smith's podcast "Master Your Lens" where he challenges photographers to work their art for themselves, and not just for client. Having recently completed my last one back in October of last year, I am past due to start a new one. I don't usually involve my family in my business, but there will be a lot of transition in the next 6 to 8 months and it made sense to me to document my family as we move through my husband's upcoming deployment. John is in the Navy and will be leaving for his first deployment since he joined in 2014.
John and I met in Spring 2011, started dating in the summer and got married the following year in September of 2012. I was in advertising and had just started a consulting position with HSN, and John was in sales. He was not happy with his career and had never been happy with his professional life, so after watching him jump from job to job to try and find professional satisfaction I made an appointment with a Navy recruiter, cleared my schedule and we went to talk to them. John was apprehensive. He was born and raised in Tampa Bay, had never been out of the country, or lived in any other state.
This is a stark contrast to my life growing up with a father in the Navy. We moved a lot, when we weren't moving we were traveling. I've lived in Keflavik, been all over Europe and the Caribbean, and I knew I wanted to get out of Tampa. John did too, he just wasn't sure the Navy was the way to do it. But considering we were just starting out, had one income, and he was in need of a career anyway, it made sense to get a job that would pay for moving expenses. At the end of four years if we hated the lifestyle of being a Navy family, he could always get out. So we started our adventure. John was 31 and I had just turned 30. Seven months after we were married we received a surprise positive pregnancy test (well, seven positive pregnancy tests, lol, I didn't believe the first six...who knew you could get pregnant on the pill? Lol, apparently a lot of people except for me).
Fast forward through boot camp, A-school in Pensacola, a cross country, six day drive from Tampa to San Diego, add another kid to the mix (our son joined the family in July of 2015...yes, we have two kids under three years old. I'm clearly an overachiever, lol), a busy photography business, and an impending deployment and you're right up to speed.
When John gets home from his deployment Emerson (our boy, affectionately called Emmie or Baby Guy) will be about 20 months (Emerson will be one year old in July, John will miss his first birthday), and our daughter Gabriella (she's a character, we call her Brie or Squeek) will have just turned three a few months prior to his expected return month.
When I sat down and looked at the time he will spend away from us, I got a real sense of the difference six months can make in a child's life versus six months in an adult's life. A lot happens in six months developmentally when you're a small human. Mispronounced words become sentences, pulling up and inching around the couch becomes walking around on your own, potty training can become potty trained. The point of this project is for me to be very conscious of these events, to savor them, to document them for my husband. I will be here day in and day out, and as a parent who works from home 80% of the time - I know it is all too easy to miss moments, and to get frustrated with the kids and not to see them for what they are.
This project will be for my husband, but I intend for it to also help me to slow down with my kids, to see the world as they see it, and to savor the moments I would generally take for granted (really, Brie? ANOTHER story? We've read four books, go to bed already!). I have a unique role as a mother to these kids, my husband goes out to sea for months at a time and I am their sole emotional provider. That is exhausting.
Being a parent is HARD. Not enough people say this. Not enough people feel it openly. I feel like there's a conspiracy amongst parents on social media to only display the best days, the best outfits, the best experiences. Luckily for me, I get vomit in my hair, fall asleep without showering from sheer exhaustion, and routinely have enough laundry piled up that I'm pretty down to earth about parenting these little wonders.
This will be an emotional project while I work to find joy, fun and peace in the day in day out monotony of parenting alone for more than half a year. It will be emotional for John because when he returns I fully intend on posting video of him viewing the photographic story I'll be writing. Join me on this journey, leave comments, leave encouragement, leave laughter. I'll need it, and John will have an view into our world and see what he missed.
- Photo Credit: Bree Davis with Norang Photography (check her out, she's awesome)