It’s no secret, whether you know me personally or have been a reader to my blogs in the past I am a Mother. Yes, Mother. Also I go by, “Mama”, “Mooooooom”, “Mommy”, “Mom”, “MAMAAAA”… you get the picture. I have been the Mother to a fiesty, fun, and fabulous 2 1/2 year old boy… that I swear is going on 20 these days. He’s so smart and wise beyond his little years.
I wanted to write this blog to answer the many questions I have so many ask, “How do you do it?”
Photography. Being a Mom. Being a Wife. Working Full-Time as a Food Safety Manager.
The answer. Truthfully, I am fueled by my family.
Family? Some would laugh, as there is the myth when becoming a Mother, you can’t still be… yourself. I remember when I was pregnant with Parker, so many strangers would give me the most awful advice.
“Say goodbye to date nights or having fun.”
or “Say goodbye to sleep for the next 18 years.”
“Say goodbye to _____ (insert some BS).”
And each would walk off thinking they did a good deed.
Honey, you just scared a preggie for no reason. For shame! What I wished someone would have said was this:
“You’re stronger than you know.”
“You’ll adjust, it takes time but you will.”
“Don’t worry about folding clothes, love and hold that baby tight.”
“Your heart and mind will be forever changed in the best way possible.”
And to add warning, I wish someone would’ve told me I would likely cry at ‘Huggy’ commercials, or even the cheesiest Hallmark and Disney movies on cue. #sap #cocogetsmeeverytime #imnotcryingyourcrying
It wasn’t until I became a mother that I learned of my strengths. I learned that I could do so much more than just be a woman, I could care for a child and still be… well, me. And that I would do anything to protect and love my little family.
I became fearless.
Parker was about 7 months old, and I was on my way to dropping him off at daycare. Our morning routine was in tune, he would laugh, I would smile, then I would snuggle him to have the best day and I would head to work. I had wonderful co-workers and even worked with my best friend. My husband was a wonderful dad and we were a happy family. What else could a gal want? But something was missing.
I will never forget that morning drive. I remember being in traffic and listening to the radio, and being alert as ever when I overheard a question I could not get out of my head for the next 2 1/2 years.
“If you were on your deathbed tomorrow, would you lay there knowing you did everything in this life that you wanted. No regrets.”
In an instant, I felt the big man upstairs poking at me as the words, “Yes, photography.” fell out from my mouth.
It could have been the new parent delusional tiredness, but that day I ‘woke up’ after hearing that and didn’t realize how much I truly enjoyed photography, and photography not being part of my life… THAT was no longer an option.
A quick history lesson for those of you that may not know me, prior to having Parker and being a Mother, I practiced photography, quite a bit actually. I photographed numerous sessions and even several weddings.
So you may ask, yourself, “So why did you stop?”
The answer, “Me.”
My own thoughts and criticism towards my work despite how happy my then clients were, tore me down to my own repeat thoughts that looked a lot like this:
“You’re not good enough.”
“You can’t have a family and be a photographer.”
“You can’t do this.”
“This isn’t magazine-worthy work”
I kept telling myself to the point it was transcribed to “Stop dreaming.”
What I would do now to find 25 year old Jessica and set her straight. But then again, going through this self inflicted adversity and other chapters of adversity (that’s a book in itself), I would not be the Mother, Wife, Photographer, or Jessica that I am today.
After having this ‘epiphany’ of potentially living an entire life without photography, from that moment forward obstacles ahead or not, I was going to pursue it. I was all in! Being a Mother, I learned my own strengths and this Mama Jessica, she wasn’t about to let this dream go from fear. After all, I did become fearless.
So I started back up slowly, I began to photograph a handful of families, seniors, and then… weddings. (The story of how I jumped back into weddings was from one woman I adore and I will never forget. Melissa…another chapter on it’s own)
Every time I would photograph a session or wedding, I would leave with the biggest smile. It was different than anything I had done in the past for work. I felt that I would not only grow in my photography talents, but I was able to connect with my clients on a completely new level. And it felt AMAZING!
I didn’t realize my passion for photography was so strong. It’s so much more than just having a camera in my hand, it has lead to connecting with new brides, couples, mothers, finding a community of other creative souls and photographers, and providing not only the best service and portraits possible, but creating and spreading joy. Knowing that on any given day my clients would go back to some of their best memories and smile, and being a part of that… I have no words. Especially, when those that have lost someone and can morn with a photograph I took. To not only spread joy but to even help someone grieve through hard-life moments, I have no words.
This pursuit of passion for photography has been a journey.
“A journey of a 1,000 miles all starts with one step.”
Now I had the first step down, but the next 100,000 … were not always as easy.
I had days of no sleep, no rest from my weekends of long weddings and multiple sessions, editing all hours of the night, then to lay down at 1 a.m. from editing to a kiddo with an ear infection or cries, then to wake up and go to my 8-5 job. Coffee was as good as a glass of wine. #thisisfine
I would then read countless books, articles, and countless youtube and google bar searches to find answers to endless questions. Most of the time leading into new questions and frustrations. This done during lunch breaks and numerous late nights. Evening drives back home from sessions and even weddings to learn not only how can I be better, but how can I better serve.
It was tough. But my why? That was easy. When I would rock Parker to sleep I dreamt of “what if?”
What if my passion, could not only allow me to create joy for others, what if it could lead me to be with him more and not be torn from my job and my passion? What if it could be one? My passion = my job. What if there was a day I didn’t have to choose?
Well today, is that day.
After nearly 2 years of not only dreaming, but putting in the work day after day I can honestly say, when asked, “So, what do you do for a living?”
“I’m a photographer.”
It’s official. It’s now public. I hit the “restart” button to this journey as a Mother and Wife, and have had the endless support of family, closest friends, and tribe. This life adventure is no where near done, but I am enjoying this amazing mountain top view. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities and leadership position I was given as a Food Safety Manager and will miss my work family. But in my heart, I know this is what I was always meant to do. AND I am so ready!!
I have to thank my amazing family, my husband, that never once doubted my potential and dream. In everything we do together, he has always said to follow your heart. His mantra to me has always been, “Do what makes you happy.” He is such an amazing man! (Another chapter) My Mom, she has been there for everything, my biggest cheerleader and supporter. Being a Mom now, her example leads me to be the best mother I can be for Parker. She’s my rock. To the little boy that sets my soul on fire, Parker, I thank God everyday for you. Your love shines the brightest, even on days when I think I am not enough. You always know what to do, you are living proof that the smallest actions of kindness can turn any day into something magical. To my best friends, tribe, and family… Thank you.
It takes not only hard work and determination to make your dreams a reality, it truly takes a village. I will never forget this and will always be forever grateful.
To anyone that is starting their journey, don’t give up. You will have your days of triumph, you will have your days of lessons never failures. Every opportunity to learn will only move you forward. You are stronger than you know, and if you have the will to keep going, you will get there. Trust me. Surround yourself with positive, encouraging peeps that empower you to thrive not dive. Pray hard. Be patient, and know the feeling of reward from creating this vision from theory to life is more fulfilling than any rush out there. God is good. In the words of Father Alex, “Faith. Words. Diligence. When you put these together you can only move forward (FWD).”
Thank you for reading my story, and I will leave you with the words of Maya Angelou,
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.“
Stay tuned for more adventures, this is the first step to a new journey.
Photocredit: Pine & Blossom Photography