If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “You’re such a good mom!” or “How’d you do it on your own?”, I’d have a nice-sized bank account. But sometimes I don’t believe it. It sure wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns when my son was growing up. In fact, it was downright arduous. There were a lot of challenges and it made for some very difficult times. But he was my one and only child whom I loved unconditionally. My baby boy. As his mom, I was going to do anything and everything to ensure that he had a successful but more importantly joyful childhood.
In preschool my boy had some of the most loving and caring teachers, yet he still struggled with behaviors. He couldn’t focus in class or stay on task, he was extremely hyper, and was very impulsive. All combined, these made a nasty cocktail for a bad day and ultimately being labeled a “discipline problem”.
But he wasn’t like that at home… at least, that’s what I thought. There was no “Google” back then so I asked the experts (doctors, specialists, schools, etc.) a LOT of questions and finally had him tested. By the time he was ready for Kindergarten he’d been given an autism diagnosis. FINALLY, I thought, he’ll get the support services he needs.
But the challenges continued. Not every school year was bad, and neither was every teacher. He had some amazing and truly supportive educators who wanted to see him succeed no matter how much time it took to explain a concept or task to him. While I tried my hardest to be positive, it was my job as a mom to be ever-vigilant, issue constant oversight and be my son’s best advocate. (And a little “Jersey” attitude didn’t hurt.) Yes, there were a LOT of challenges and sleepless nights. I worried all the time and argued with his caregivers too much. I pushed him endlessly and sheltered him to a fault. But that’s what moms do.
My “baby boy” is now 22 years old and he’s an amazing, talented, kind and hilarious young man. I have NO IDEA where the time went, honestly. Before I could blink he’d graduated high school, gotten a job and was driving to the store to get his own groceries.
Recently I went through some photographs of us when he was a preschooler. Those years were by far the most difficult for us both. And yet, EVERY picture I have is of us smiling, having fun or going on an adventure, so the emotion those images evokes is simply JOY. I’m so lucky to have those photographs… but some families aren’t as lucky.
Parents of children who are diagnosed with a disability or challenging behavior aren’t likely to book an appointment for their kids at Sears. It’s so difficult for little ones to navigate the crowds at the mall or deal with the blinding flashes and saying “Cheese!”?! I started my portrait photography business with the disability community in mind. My specialty is photographing children and families of ALL abilities. I have the know-how, the patience and the knack for capturing special moments. And, like a mom I also have fierce determination. I want families to have memorable photographs that they can look back on with joy.
Whenever I have a mom and her child alone in front of my camera, my heart fills with a special emotion. I know first hand what that relationship is all about. I know how hard that woman fights for her child, how much sleep she’s lost worrying and how much JOY her child brings her. It’s all I can do to squeeze the shutter.
Here’s to you, moms–because EVERYTHING you do IS the best.