I did a “mornings with you” shoot yesterday for a beautiful momma (becca) and her two littlest children who are still at home. I look forward to sharing the full body of work when it’s ready but there’s an image that grabbed me, and I couldn’t wait to share it.
Dean got frustrated with his mom about something and, as many two year olds, he decided the best way to express himself would be to bite her on the thumb. she very calmly put him down and told him she wouldn’t be holding him in her lap if he was going to bite her. He broke down crying, immediately remorseful. Seeing his heartbreak, she scooped him up and wrapped her arms around him. I made a photograph in that moment when he was crying. She stroked his naked back with her hand, consoling him, her face serene and filled with love. Looking back through the images last night, I saw it – the small, faint, red bite mark on her right thumb made by one of his pointy baby teeth.
That is motherhood.
That is what we sign up for when we hold up the positive pregnancy test in our bathrooms or sign the mountains of adoption paperwork.
That is what we wrestle against while our children are young, and mourn the loss of when we dance with them on their wedding days.
In those moments, the moments when we are broken and tired and stretched thin and have nothing left to give, we dig out the very last bits of love and self-sacrifice left in our bodies, and we give it to our children. We hold them and we comfort them with bite marks on our hands.
Then we get up the next day and do the same thing all over again, with gratitude in our hearts that they are ours for just a little while longer.