New parenthood is chaotic. Between diapers, feedings, and that classic baby-vs-sleep showdown, it can be a lot. And that’s without considering our own basic needs. It’s a turbulent world and sometimes it just feels like a mess.
For me, new motherhood meant the grace of letting go. My make-up routine is down to the basics and usually done while eating breakfast, pumping, and chatting with a babbling Juniper bouncing in her jumperoo. My hair is 50% dry shampoo at this point and my house is pretty much a hilly landscape of clean laundry surrounded by rarely swept floors. This is motherhood. We are trying to keep up, we are getting by, and all the while our babies are growing up.
From this perspective, nine months in, I have to say there is beauty in the mess. Yes, there is struggle, there is worry, and sometimes we may even think we’ve hit our breaking point. But then we push past and realize we are stronger and more capable than we thought we were. And even in the hardest times, we can find beauty. It’s in the first smile of recognition after weeks of lost sleep. It’s in a quiet day when we can sit in the sunshine and enjoy the outdoors together. It’s in sharing something we love with them only to watch them love it too and make it all the more meaningful. It’s magic and beauty, amid the mess.
Time has gone quickly, and I find myself flipping through pictures and thinking about each stage of Juniper’s babyhood. What I’ve come to notice is that the way things looked is often not the way things felt. Like anyone, my first weeks were a jumble of recovery, hormones, and learning what my baby needed, but the overwhelming feelings were tenderness, awe, and love beyond love. When I look back, I want our pictures to show me what those early days felt rather than how they looked. The pictures from our first week should smell like Burts Bees and fresh laundry just like my little girl. They should feel like her fuzzy baby hair and the cool breezes of autumn, and sound like the noises she made while she nursed.
Our experiences of motherhood are what matter most – that’s the reason we take the picture. My messy house, ill-fitting postpartum clothes, and unwashed hair did not speak to those feelings; instead, my experience felt more like bright natural light, a hot shower, a fresh onesie, and a tidy nursery. So we paused and we made those images.
Kasey is an artist and photographer in Green Bay, Wisconsin. When not behind the camera, she can be found traveling, teaching, and over-celebrating every milestone and family event. Kasey and her husband, Ben, welcomed their daughter Juniper into their lives in fall of 2017. Juniper's favorite things are food, dancing, and saying "no" to everything. You can find more of Kasey's writing on parenthood and home life on her blog at www.kaseyandben.com/blog