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Like all new moms, I’ve been protecting my children since the day they were born. Protecting them from germs. Protecting them from mosquitos. Protecting them from crawling off the deck.
Protecting their health, their safety, their feelings.
It’s pretty instinctual to want to shelter those little ones we love so much, keeping them close to our bodies and safe from the dangers of the world. We bathe them gently, we feed them with such deliberate care. When other children take their toys or pull their hair, our feelings hurt for them.
As a new mom, all these things came to me easily. But then, as time went by and I became a full-time working mother of two, things slowly began to change. My schedule got out of control. My drive to maintain my income while keeping the house clean and the food cleaner started to drive my health into the ground, and I found myself faced with a lot of choices.
Along with some very unhappy little faces.
It took a while for it to happen, and even longer for me to realize it, but the person I had become was not the mother I wanted to be. I tried to keep my priorities in order when I quit my job to spend more time with the kids, but then I started a home business that took all my time. As my workload grew, so did my impatience, and I became that mom who always meant to be playing and learning with her kids, but never really did it.
I was keeping them safe, and protecting their health, the environment, my career – but what wasn’t I protecting? Their happiness.
I’ve been taking a lot of hard looks at my life lately, and realizing that despite my best efforts to protect my family from so many things, the biggest thing I’ve neglected to protect them from was me. My daily stress, my own health issues, my need to overreach. That lightbulb moment has led me to reassess my true hopes for my children and set some new priorities.
Like less telling them to shush. More listening. Fewer “Not nows.” More dance parties. Less impatience. More kite-flying in the backyard.
Less planning moments to photograph and more photographing unplanned moments.
Because those frame-worthy photos are great, but the imperfect moments are worth saving forever, too (because really, they’re not imperfect at all.)
I’ll always strive to keep my kids safe and healthy, but those things don’t necessarily equal happy. Instead of focusing on protecting them from what I fear, my goal now is to offer that protection to the things that make us whole. The time, the moments, the smiles, the compassion, the learning and growing. Because that’s IT. That’s life. The stuff that matters, and it’s not slowing down to wait until I have time.
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