This Mother’s Day I gave myself the very best gift. I’m lucky this opportunity arose, and that I could say yes. Self-gifting is totally satisfying. We have a stake in our own happiness, and we can choose how to celebrate. Here’s why I love ME this Mother’s Day.
First, I’m savoring our love and reminding myself to keep it close. I journey with these kids. Together we create this love. And I take time and fuss to celebrate.
Second, I picked out my own present, because that’s what makes me happy. If the kids make me cards, or if my husband takes me out to eat, bonus. This year for Mother’s day I gave myself the best gift: an underwater photo shoot with Erika Thornes. I love the images she created. I’m grateful to myself for going for it.
Third, I willingly stepped in front of the camera. Underwater. With no make-up. Without losing weight first. I neglected a pedicure and a waxing (oops). Bought us new swim suits (yeah!), and signed on the dotted line. We had a blast. Now I have fantastic art. Let me tell you what that means to me.
Underwater shifts the senses—the sounds hushed and muffled, the shapes obscured from a distance, the suspension shocks our minds into stillness and presence. Plunging into water feels like retreating into the womb, into an essential and elemental place of prime beauty and infinite love.
Underwater photos are fun and playful. I especially love the blue-black of the deep. It’s dramatic and stunning, like my love for my kids. It’s always gorgeous, even through turbulence, like watching my kids grow up. I love us through everything. We can only hold our breaths so long, just as we are only on this planet a brief while. The Great Mother holds us. The great blue envelops us in embrace.
Underwater slows us, and the photo suspends, like a snowglobe, our connection. We hold that feeling. We document ourselves, and reflect on who we are. We script the most important and lovely parts of us to remember. We let ourselves be shaped through an artist’s lens.
My heart bursts with gratitude for my two Honeys.
Audrey’s about to leave single digits. We’re not “new” to each other any more. We have history together. Sometimes parenting is rough. My son reminded me that Erika’s salt water pool is reminiscent of swimming through tears.
The great underwater explorer, Jacques Cousteau, said:
“Beauty, and a beguiling invitation of the unknown, have lured us. We hope they will not also entrap us.” (in Secrets of the Sunken Caves).
I feel that way each day parenting: this is beautiful, and difficult. I hope it doesn’t kill me.” Parenting has been my greatest life adventure.
Taking a moment underwater is an escape from life’s noise. The pressure of our schedules, the competing agendas in our house, the ways we get along or don’t, the ways we sometimes feel strung out. It can suffocate us. Despite external forces, I have a choice. I set the tone. We can suspend ourselves, float, navigate, and play. We can savor each other and our beautiful connection, and have fun, fellow souls. Over and over again, we choose Love.
The Mother in Me Honors the Mother in You
I gave this wonderful experience to myself, and it was exactly the right thing at the right time. Often when I ask myself what to do about something, or how to feel, I think, “what would I say to my daughter, if she were the one facing this?” Then it’s clear. We mothers love. We celebrate. We rock.
To all mothers, I wish you just the right celebration on Mother’s Day, whether it’s a special feeling in your heart, or a big splash, whether it’s a gift from someone else, or a gift to yourself. Go ahead. Dive in. Happy Mother’s Day!
To all of us, mothers or not, women and men, may we all celebrate our selves, our human connections, the way we watch over each other, nurture each other, hold each other, forgive each other, love each other, and swim through life, together. We are beautiful.
Erika Thornes has limited bookings–I’m lucky I got a spot. She does unique, niche work. She’s an expert in the photo community, an educator and mentor in her field. She’s a great pleasure to work with, whether as a photography student or a portrait subject. I’m lucky I got to be both.
My phone shots, working with Erika:
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