Guest Post: Lauren Harris

Lauren graciously shared some of her thoughts and favorite moments from our Day in the Life session together. Here she is, in her own words:

Motherhood is hard. Not like “wow, this is kinda tough” hard but “what day is it and how am I still standing” hard. I wanted to walk away with photos that represent me in this moment. In the hardest season of my life. From the time I started writing these posts to now, Gen has stopped sleeping through the night because we are in the middle of potty training hell, and Mikaela has been to the doctors not once but three times. 

I need to be able to look back on this incredibly challenging time and see for myself how well I am actually handling it. I need to see the full spectrum of what it is: from joyful and loving, to the hard moments where it takes everything in me to keep my cool. I did this for myself. This is my story.

Some nights are just exhausting. My husband is on his 4th night shift in a row. I’m solo for the morning and evening routine.

Get them up. Nurse Mikaela. Make Gen breakfast. Get Gen to actually eat breakfast. “I have to go potty.” Remembering all the things. “I have to go potty again.” Feeling the pressure of the clock. Getting everyone out the door in the morning. All before 8 AM.

The nights are worse. Everyone is tired from a full day. Rushing to daycare pick up. Squeezing in dinner, bath, books, bedtime all before 7 PM. The invisible load of being the default parent. Not being able to tap out for a break. Always being on. The exhaustion from doing it all. Some weeks I feel like I’m in the movie Groundhog Day. I’m just trying to make it until 6:30.

In Sept. 2021 daycare was redoing their classrooms for the new year and they asked me to bring in a family photo. I scrolled….and scrolled and scrolled and scrolled. Found one. Dec 2020 we are in matching elf pajamas. Eh, not what I want hanging on the daycare wall. Keep scrolling. Found another one. Nov 6, 2020. The day we brought Mikaela home. I don’t have a top on. One boob is out. I’m swollen and sore from childbirth. Anything before that Mikaela didn’t exist yet. That was it! I have hundreds (thousands??) of pictures of my girls but only a handful of pictures with me in it. Most of them are horrible angle selfies. The problem is I am alone with my girls a lot. Who is going to take those pictures for me?

I saw Lauren’s instagram post on @northshoremoms about her photography and it got me thinking about the #proofofmom movement, the brainchild of the amazing @busytoddler. It happened to be on a night I was solo and feeling beat down from it all. There was no proof that I existed in photos. I had never heard of this type of photography – day in the life – but it immediately piqued my interest.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m horrible at email, and making a phone call is worse than childbirth. But for Lauren I emailed right away and talked with her on the phone. It spoke to me. It was exactly what I was looking for. As Busy Toddler says, “…pictures so Future Me can get a little credit for all the work I’m doing here”.

On the day of the first shoot I was nervous. Part of it was feeling self conscious about my new body. Pregnancy and motherhood changes you. Nothing could prepare me for seeing my body for the first time after delivering Genevieve. I still wasn’t prepared after delivering Mikaela. Turns out that working 40 hours a week plus caring for two children plus running a household means I don’t have a ton of energy to workout. And on the rare occasion I do have energy, the coordination of schedules with my husband, or finding a sitter if I’m solo is just *another* thing to do. 

There is a season for everything and right now we are in a hard season. I’ve made peace with the fact that I am not at my fittest right now. I accept that Gen likes to lay on my belly because it feels soft like a pillow. I honor my body and what it has done to bring two beautiful girls into this world.

Published by laurenjustice

Lauren Justice is a Los Angeles, California based photojournalist who is regularly published in national and international publications. View her portfolio at www.laurenjustice.com. For more information about booking a documentary family session, visit www.laurenjusticefamily.com. Email: lauren@laurenjustice.com