I used to have a quote hanging in my studio that read:
You can’t have it all. You can only have a sliver of it all, so choose your sliver wisely my friend.
It was a freeing thought to me then and it is as well as now. Yet it’s contrary to all the messages we receive daily from headlines, movies, social media, Pinterest. All these voices tell us we should be able to have a career (or at least invest in ourselves in a meaningful way) give back to our community, stay sexually attractive to our partners, cook healthy, local, organic dinners every night and create lasting memories for our children. Something has to give.
I am a woman of many interests. Usually my passions, pursuits and projects far exceed my limitations of time and energy. But it doesn’t stop me from trying. Some days I feel like I can juggle it all, but most days I am stopped short in my quest to conquer my to-do list by the reality of my own inefficiency, four children who need me and a husband who is often gone for work. I am learning that in all areas of life, choosing one thing means not choosing another. If Istay up til midnight I am not going to be able to wake up at 6 to read and meditate and have a peaceful morning before our house turns into a hive of activity. If I spend money on going out to eat I am not going to have it to spend on that cute sweater. Whatever. Choices. You know what I mean. It all comes down to priorities.
Here’s what I have decided. My children have one childhood. And I want it to be a good one. There are thngs I want them to remember. And there I things I want to remember. I am the main memory maker, tradition keeper, mood setter in our home. I know that I can’t have it all. There are days when I can barely handle the basics. Anything on top is gravy.
I want my kids to remember reading books together under quilts in the backyard, my homemade granola, eating and talking together almost every night, sharing Best and Worst before bed, camping together all summer long, Saturday morning chores with music blasting, Dad’s waffles and “famous” grilled cheese, taking walks together after dinner in the golden light, eating s’mores in the backyard around our fire pit, watching movies together all cuddled up. Sure, I know they will remember the nights we rushed around like crazies and I was grumpy and threw some chicken nuggets and carrot sticks on the table and we all ate at different times. I know it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. But I’m sure hoping we’re cultivating more sweet memories than sour.
Our lives are the sum of each moment and interaction, each day we work, eat, laugh, teach, play, read, remember….and work at it all the again the next day. Within the seemingly small moments we find opportunity to build relationships, develop character, find joy for the price of our time. Life’s most essential possibilities are realized at home. Where we share, teach, grow, learn, serve, give our best without praise or fanfare. Because every effort, every moment matters in the development of a person. Nothing is really routine to those who see the everyday. To all who see the everyday. –Seeing The Everyday magazine.
As they get closer and closer to adulthood it becomes more urgent, more important to me that we cultivate these memories and traditions. I know I have the rest of my life, but I only have so many years left with them under my roof. So much as I would like to take care of the dust-bunnies under my bed, edit a couple jobs, put together some upcoming shoots and promo work, I want my boys to remember that I watched game 7 of the World Series with them. As much as I need to catch up on some emails, organize some files and ship out orders, I want my daughter to know that I was present with her after school, sitting face to face while eating a snack. It isn’t always this way. It won’t always be this way. And certainly there are days when they will only rememebr the back of my head at the computer screen or me yelling at them for the eleventeenth-time to put their shoes in the shoe closet (what a concept!)
And there are things I want to remember. Oh, the ache I feel in my chest when I look at them. All of them are such beautiful little creatures. Inside and out. Just amazing, really. My breath catches when I look at the freckles sprinkling my 9 year-old’s face, or watch the graceful eyelashes above my 12 year-old’s deep eyes. I melt when my daughter spills all the details of her day and when I hear her compassionate heart breaking over something a friend (or even a teacher!) is suffering. And of course my littlest just has me wrapped around his finger and every night when I cuddle with him I thank God that he is a part of our life because I know he just as easily could not have been. And holding any of my children’s hands- especially the older ones. The details of our days… the small moments, our daily life together, in all it’s chaos and messy grace, failure and success. This is why I keep picking up my camera. This is what I want to show you in your life, too. It just goes too fast. This is how I can slow it down. Sometimes I need to slow it down by putting the camera away and stepping away from the computer, the phone, all the other distractions and just be with them. It’s not an easy balance, especially when I’m solo-parenting four kids through the school nights. (I did manage to get a field trip form turned in for one kid but forgot it was “wear orange” day for another…and I may have had a teeny little meltdown after the World Series because a certain three-year-old was screaming his head off instead of falling asleep.)
Tell me: What are the unique things about your family culture you want to remember? What are the things that are important to your family at this stage in life that you want to document? Tell me the special parts of your Everyday. I might just choose one answer for a free mini-session (Please spread the word!). Please reply by commenting below by November 20th.
Read more of my 31-days of conversation here
The special parts of my Everyday…
letting my girls pick out one of Mama’s or Dada’s t-shirts to sleep in…started as a way of them having a piece of us with them on nights when they didn’t want to go to bed without us, but it has turned into such a special tradition.
telling them regularly, “You are such a blessing to this family, and you are such a blessing to this world”.
singing individual wake up songs and bedtime songs to my three…i wrote the lyrics when they were each born.
dance parties. enough said.
teaching my babes early how to create a masterful lasagna or scratch-made rolls…and not fussing when I see them lick their fingers while cooking!
the oldest who wants to wear her super-hero cape ALL the time. and who likes adding bottle-caps to her “collection”
the five of us putting mail in each other’s personal mailboxes in our living room. notes, drawings, fruit snacks.
the sign language “i love you” signs that we all throw up multiple times a day at each other. nothing beats a three-year-old voice yelling “i love you sign” every time Dada leaves for work.
the baby who I celebrate and grieve over with each new stage because she might be the last little one I nurse and rock and I’ve loved this stage so dearly.
We are keeping my Italian heritage alive with food, drink and mayhem at the dinner table. There are 20 conversations going all at once, and I love it. I am so thankful to God that my kids are crazy and loud, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. It might not make sense to some, but for me….it’s home.
I want my kids to never feel like they are on a “to do list” I want them to remember the times we stayed up talking at bedtime laughing and sharing about our day, rather then adhering to “the schedule”. I want them to know that I enjoy them and that I actually do find them delightful and funny. That I’m proud of them and I don’t say those things because that is what a good parent does. I want them to know they are genuinely loved!
I love this! I’m at the stage where I think to myself have I done enough? Was I there enough for my kids? They’re all teenagers and boy this stage is hard. I have close relationships with all of them and I believe they feel close enough to share anything with me. But deep down I know that they’re getting closer to adulthood well my oldest is already there and I so very miss them being little. I too love taking pictures not as cool as yours but never the less I love to capture our memories. I love to look back at all of our memories and that makes me happy. My family is very important to me. Spending time with them and creating memories whether it’s at dinner time, on vacation, away at a sports tournament, one on one time with them, or simply sitting at the dinner table listening to a part of world when they’re willing to share. Family is important and my goal is to be there for them and make lasting memories!