Yesterday morning, I'd spent forty-five minutes happily clacking away at my computer, answering emails and booking sessions post-maternity leave and doing all kinds of things that I do nearly every morning, when my husband sent me a text that said, "You shouldn't be working today."
I hadn't told him I was working. I hadn't mentioned working at all, except for that morning when I told him I was going to take the day off. But he knew! He knew I was working, which means he's a smarty. I've said this before, but Andrew is a better person than me. I'm not saying this because I think that I am a horrible person. I'm saying it because Andrew is probably the best person I have ever known, especially when his age is taken into account. The past few weeks, I keep laughing at how ridiculous we are- two twenty-five year olds with a two-year-old and a baby due in a small amount of single-digit weeks.
He's in grad school and I take photographs and he has a little office with a plaque on his desk that says "Andrew Chandler". Our child has become the most independent little human being alive and turns the light on when he's supposed to be napping and says "PLEEEEEASE, Mommy!" whenever I don't let him have what he wants. And, I don't know. I have worked a lot this past year. Most people work a lot so I know this isn't special, but I have worked a lot this year and I didn't realize how much I work- and how hard it is to work at home- until this past week when my brothers stayed with us and I found myself asking them to do things like water the dog or take Max to play in his room or pick the pillows off the floor and maybe, if they could, would they find a diaper for me so I could change Max? Sometimes working at home is an uphill battle all day and, quite frankly, it's a battle I've been glad to fight.
I mean, I'm actually a bit of a workaholic and, with photography, that includes reading books and forums and articles and watching videos and drafting new documents and five thousand other projects. Truthfully, I could conjure work out of nothing. But the truth is, I want to work but I don't want to work so hard that I see a computer screen every time I shut my eyes and I don't want to dream in F-stops and I also don't want to work so hard that, when I finally have time to sit down with my son, I have to remember how to play with him.
And so! Yesterday, I rolled my eyes at my husband for knowing that I was working even though I'd said I'd take the day off, I closed all my programs, shut off my computer (like, I turned it off and didn't just put it to sleep), and then Max and I hung out all day.
I wish I could say that when I turned everything off, our day became a million times better, because in some ways it did. But it also made me realize that I have a long way to go before I know the right way to balance. I no longer need to work as much as I did before- Andrew has a steady job that covers all of our non-school needs and, besides that, my prices are a lot higher than they ever were a year ago- and I really want to start the next chapter of my life (mom of two at age 26!) as someone who has a creative, work-centered outlet but also someone whose main focus is at home. I will probably always work in some way or the other. Taking photographs makes my heart sing little songs and, even if I never earned a penny from anyone, I would still take photographs. Plus, the best perk of my photography is the photography I do at home. I can't explain how much I cherish the images I have of our small family- both the crappy and the fantastic. I just don't want work to rule my life like it has this past year.
As a mom, I think it's normal to struggle to find the right balance and I also think it can be fun to figure things out along the way. There are so many "I know the best!" moms out there and I'm not one of them. I'm never going to be the mom who pays $500 for a developmental toy aimed for six month olds and I'm never going to be the mom who always wears my children and I'm never going to be the mom where everything is a learning experience. I am not dogging those kind of moms- I respect a lot of them!- but I know myself and know that I am going to be the mom that lets her children cover themselves in mud and I am going to be the mom who lets her children have full-day TV marathons when there's a heat warning outside and I am going to be the mom who lets her children eat too much candy and I am going to be the mom who lets her children run wild with fingerpaint all over their arms and wind in their hair. Sure, I don't want my kids to be hellions, but with Andrew and me as their parents, they probably will be anyway. They are going to be stubborn and smart and creative and funny and wonderful and I want them to experience life. I want them to experience everything life has to offer them and I want to be right there experiencing it with them.