It all started with a picture.
My 3-year-old daughter was having a complete meltdown. Those screams! I was pretty sure the neighbors on the other side of the apartment walls could hear her. Kicking! I was certain the downstairs neighbors could hear that. She wouldn’t let me touch her, let alone hold her. After repeated days like this, I was starting to not even care that she wouldn’t let me console her. I was starting to doubt my influence as a mother. Some moments, I didn’t even want to try.
So I cried. I prayed. How could I possibly take care of a toddler time bomb waiting to go off?
Then one day I saw a picture, a photo of my little Sophia on the wall. She was 9 months old in it, and she was beaming. Her smile was electric, her dark eyes shining with pure, true pride. In the photo, she was sitting in a little chair for the very first time, and she was holding her own! It was her first professional portrait and they had done something I hadn’t yet- set her down in a cute seat. I don’t know why I hadn’t yet, but I was glad because it meant that they had captured this victorious moment forever. There it was, this priceless memory on my wall, her face grinning and glowing, head held high for her first professional portrait.
This precious photo and moment in time changed things for me. That picture gave me hope. It was like a window into a better day than the one I was having when she fell apart. It helped me remember who my daughter truly is, a beautiful, divine, inquisitive child, not a crazy, mess of emotions and curly hair balling on the living room floor. It hit me that I needed to not only notice more special good moments like the one in the picture but capture them! And create opportunities for them.
This has been my mission since then…to create opportunities for wonderful family moments, to record them, and share them with the world and my posterity. This has led to two books (and a third on the way) as well as a music album (to be out in July 2019) all with ideas to truly feel JOY. It’s also led to my own set of M&M’s. (Click here to see what I’m talking about, and no, it’s not chocolate. It’s better!)
This is my way of supporting mothers, fathers, children, and families. Because we are all living similar lives! We are all struggling with something! We are all learning and experiencing growing pains. But maybe if you are having a tiring day like I was, you’ll see something in a photo or hear something in a song or read something in this blog, and in my child’s moment of discovery or my moment of hard-fought peace you will see something of yourself or your child. And that will help you see things a little differently than before.
That’s my hope, to help bring other families together as I work fiercely to bring together mine.
A single photo of my daughter led to entire afternoons of blowing bubbles, going on walks, and finding other moments of simple joy. It revived a love for songwriting, as I found melodies with which to describe our adventures too. There were still hard moments, but I recognized them as just that- a moment, a little speedbump on the journey (that could still teach us something too). Sometimes I cry through them. Sometimes I laugh through them. Either way, with God’s strength, I get through them.
That photo led to me doing my own photo sessions for family members and friends. It gave me hope and confidence to start taking care of myself and not smother my emotional pain with comfort foods. I started eating well, exercising, teaching dance and theater again. I even made the decision to start homeschooling my 3 kids so we could spend more time together! Little by little I changed how I perceived my life and spent each day trying to enjoy it instead of trying to escape it.
My family saved my life. They motivated me to keep going, to see the good and the best that’s yet to come. They lifted me when I thought I was unreachable. All I can hope is that I can capture those meaningful moments, share them, and inspire more.
“Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee and we’ll ascend together.”
– John Greenleaf Whittier