I've been talking about how what you do matters, and how understanding this is an important step in addressing one of the biggest parenting challenges we face - that of time and balance.
And I know! "Time and balance"... blah blah blah it's such a cliche and an unsolvable problem.
We accept that not having enough time to do everything we want is a given condition of being a parent and that there is nothing we can do about it.
But let me ask you this.
Do you worry about whether you're doing enough for your kids?
And do you want, more than anything, to know that your kids are self-confident and happy?
And don't you wish you could have a way of knowing that they are going to be ok? That they are already ok?
I know it seems impossible to feel like you’re doing enough for your kids, because you don’t have enough time in the day to do everything that you think you should be doing.
But the truth is that you are already doing enough - you just can't see it.
In fact, I'm willing to bet that you are doing way more than you realize.
Let's look at a typical day.
Your kids squabble over breakfast about who the worst sibling is. You barely get them out the door in time to catch the school bus - one of them is covered in yoghurt but you don't have time to change or clean their shirt, and you're pretty sure the other didn't brush their teeth.
That evening, your oldest is having a meltdown about homework that somehow got covered in cake in their backpack. You're exhausted from a long day of back-to-back meetings at work but your little one just absolutely will not go to bed. They're scared, they want to sleep in your bed, they want you to sit with them until they're asleep and then they just won't settle down. You end up losing your temper and yelling and now both kids are crying about how mean you are. And you still have to finish up a report that is two days late.
It's 10pm, and the kids are finally asleep. You heave a sigh of relief but... what's left with you from the day is all the bad stuff.
You know you're not a terrible mother but you certainly feel like one.
You shouldn't have yelled. You replay in your mind the scene with your two kids sobbing about how mean you are even though in your mind you were actually way too lenient and gave them too many second chances to go to bed quietly.
But here's where photography can come into play.
What if, instead of continuing with the self-flagellation and second guessing, you could instead turn to your camera roll, and revisit some of the good moments of the day - your kids giggling with their friends at the bus stop and waving good bye, the funny moment in the bath when they both wore goggles and were covered in bubbles, your older kid reading to the little one before bedtime, or the silly selfies you all did together. Maybe you go back to the weekend and the grin of accomplishment over conquering the monkey bars at the playground, or the sweet attempts to help a baby cousin learn to walk.
Maybe you go back to the summer and the thrill and excitement of their first campfire, staying up late in their PJs and hoodies, huddled up with their dad. Or the joy of go-karting, or the exhilaration of a water fight with their friends.
Negativity bias means that it is really easy to focus on the bad things, and to overlook the good things.
If you’re feeling traumatized by the election the prospect of who is coming into power, and particularly if you’re a person of color or other minority that may have past experiences that are being brought up again, this is going to be particularly true right now.
I won’t lie, I have been really struggling. Some days it’s all that I can do not to crawl back into bed after the kids have gone off to school.
But I do believe that now more than ever, it is critically important that we find a way to move forward in our lives, one tiny step at a time. I’m working on accepting that these tiny moments of joy with my kids are important. They don’t get to take away our joy. We still get to experience joy, and that joy can be a form of resistance, a form of defiance, and a much needed tool for resilience.
Your photos can talk back to you, and show you the joy that you have in your life, and all that you are already doing for your kids.
You are doing enough.
This holiday season, see if you can use your camera to look for, see and focus on the joy that you already have in your life.
I’m taking next week off but I’ll be back in the new year. Thank you, and happy holidays.