Dana and I have known each other for years. We first met while working at a skate shop and became fast friends. During these years, I went through several unflattering hairstyles, and Dana was never seen without her studded belt (which, I’m sure, she still rocks regularly). We also both met and fell in love with our now husbands (Mike and Mike). When I first met Dana, I can honestly say that I was totally intimidated by her. Dana has never been one to withhold her opinion about anything and I have always been terrified of being teased. I’ve since learned that Dana’s blunt, teasing nature is one of my favourite things about her. I always know where I stand and our relationship is without the usual “girl drama.”
I have loved watching Dana fall in love with each of her three children. She is always honest about the ups and downs of mothering, and was the first to tell me that my life would definitely become chaotic with three children. When I told her in hushed tones in the Barbie isle of Toys R Us that I was pregnant again, she was also the first to tell me that even though her life is busy with three small children so close in age, she has never regretted a second of it. Dana is one of those friends that I can go weeks or even months without talking to, and we can always pick up right where we left off.
I loved capturing these images of Dana and Mike with their three beautiful children. I arrived at the session with the goal of capturing the Stephensons as they are right now. I truly believe this is such an amazing stage of life. Daily life might seem rushed and harried – an endless cycle of cooking macaroni, cleaning up spills, stepping on tiny toys, changing diapers and potty training (“Are you sure you don’t have to go pee before we leave the house?”). The nightly re-reading of the same Dr. Seuss book and the unending “why” phase in which we promised ourselves we would never say “just because” like our parent’s did, but we catch ourselves mindlessly saying just that while trying to find matches for the dozens of pairs of tiny socks in the laundry basket.
But when we step back and look at the tasks we complete as parents, day in and day out, I know it’s the very dailiness of these things that we will someday miss. When our children are grown, I’m sure that we will look back and feel a loss for the simplicity and ritual of what we have right now. A bandaid and a kiss can make any hurt better. Each day ends with a cuddle and the words “I love you” spoken in tiny, high pitched voices (“I lub you, Mama”). Hours can be passed pushing a swing, running through the sprinkler or adding to the ever growing rock and stick collection in the windowsill.
Home is the centre of our children’s world and for a while we are their favourite people in the entire universe. I can’t count the number of times that Lilah and I have read Little House in the Big Woods by Louisa May Alcott. It’s her favourite book and I find this rather endearing. A few months ago, I was reading a book in which an author quoted the last page of Little House. I immediately found our dog-eared copy of the book on my bedside table and re-read the passage:
When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, “What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?”
“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,” Pa said. “Go to sleep, now.”
But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.
She thought to herself, “This is now.”
She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.
Dana and Mike, your little family is perfect just the way it is. I love the images of Mike hanging Emmett upside down when he’d had it with the heat and sitting still. These perfectly imperfect moments capture your family as it is right now. I hope that I was able to capture your “now” in a way that will always make you smile…