Monday morning our youngest woke up with a fever. I suspected something was up when he was acting a little more subdued than usual. Most mornings both of our boys cause quite a ruckus in their room between waking and when we head in to get them up for the day. They’re famous for chucking books at each other across the room or singing LET IT GO or I LIKE TO MOVE IT MOVE IT at the tops of their lungs. And their favorite game is playing “baby dinosaur” which is basically where they holler as loud as they can and try to out-scream each other. I can’t tell you how many mornings I find gratitude in the adjustable volume of our baby monitor! That morning, Niko didn’t seem as enthusiastic to play along in their morning shenanigans.
I’m usually up for a while before I get them up for the day (trying to keep those February goals) – so as I watched them over the baby monitor, I could tell something was up and went in earlier to get him than I usually do. Sure enough, he was hot to the touch when I leaned in to pull him from his crib. Paul had left the day before for a work conference. Sick babies and solo-parenting is never a particularly fun combination. But what can we do?
Dig deep, stay strong, and rise above it.
One thing I found myself doing this week was procrastinating (no surprise there!) by sifting fondly through old photos. This month I participated in another one of Kelle Hampton’s FRAMED photography courses. These courses are always such a powerful jolt to my creative senses. I have definitely been in a rut with my photography lately. It has felt a little like I’ve had a hangover from overindulging over the holiday season. After two months of festive inspiration overload, my creative eye went into hibernation.
And being that it was the longest January ever didn’t help!
I certainly wasn’t the best student in this round of the course (did I mention solo-parenting with a sick kiddo?!). But I did brush the cobwebs off of my camera for the first time since December and manage to get a few of the assignments completed. Mostly I am thankful for the spark of joy that resurfaced with taking this class, finding myself behind the camera’s lens looking at my life with a renewed perspective.
Since I somewhat dropped the ball toward the end of the class and didn’t complete the last two assignments, I found myself searching for a photo that might conveniently encompass both of them. Assignment #5 was to take a photo that shows multiple layers of story, capturing a complex narrative for the viewer to take in. The final assignment was to “share” a photo we’ve taken in a meaningful way. As I scrolled through looking for one that would catch my eye, this is what jumped out to me.
I took this photo in early October of last year. We were all outside hanging around the front porch together as a family. Basking in the warmer weather. Sidewalk chalking, mama taking photos, enjoying the beautiful afternoon, and chatting with neighbors who passed us by. Ordinary moments of magic. These are always my favorite moments to capture in photographs.
It is not uncommon for me to find myself looking around and feeling completely overwhelmed by how blessed I am.
For so long I dreamt of this life. There were so many days I didn’t believe it would ever come true.
There is something unique in the gratitude that comes after walking along a brink of despair. From losing your grip on the faith you are so desperately clinging to. And then finding yourself one day with the world placed gently in your arms. It’s hard to explain. But it’s a beautiful thing.
There are many different elements I love about this photo. All of our names written out on the step. That little blonde baby plopped right in the center. My husband’s leg with a scraped knee (most likely a recent soccer battle scar). The tiniest tip of my toe peeking in at the top as evidence of my existence (I considered cropping it out but then changed my mind – always love those proof of mama shots).
Most of all, I love that all of the chalk drawings are of sunshine and rainbows and flowers.
It’s feels strange to admit, but the reason I love it is because of the bright little reminder that this life is NOT all sunshine and rainbows. It’s like a window into my soul. We all have hard days. Sometimes those days feel like endless stretches of night. Darkness so opaque it seems like it may never lift. Shadows covering everything.
My gratitude for this life of mine was birthed from grace in my darkest days. I believe this is what helps keep me grounded. This is why I consider myself an enduring optimist. Why positivity is totally my jam. This is what helps me bask in the blessings, twirl in the sunshine and rainbows of ordinary moments, and most importantly – to weather the storms.
Trust me… there are DEFINITELY storms.
I’d never want to give off a false impression that our days only consist of sunshine and rainbows around here. I mean, I mentioned that we are raising two toddlers in this season of life, right? Anybody who has lived a similar chaos can attest to the storms!
This week had plenty of them. I found myself spiraling in the shadows on more than one occasion. Frustration, loneliness, impatience. Helplessness, envy, exhaustion. Guilt, lack of motivation, mental depletion. Sunshine and rainbows are hard to hold on to when our babies are sick. When our partners are gone. And when our reserves are spent. Heck, they’re hard to hold on to even on the best of days!
But this is where I find myself leaning in. Digging deep. Soaking in those extra snuggles. Scrolling through those beautiful ordinary moments of magic. Using my writing as a safe outlet to release the handle of control and keep it real. But always coming back to that perspective of gratitude.