Erin Joyce Photography: A Mother's Love

A Mother’s Love. It’s this amazing thing. It knows no bounds and is infinite in its depth. I have always heard about “mother’s love.” I always knew it was a thing. Working with children in my career, I could see the mama bears. I saw that love. Seeing it, being around it, and hearing about it can never, ever prepare you for actually feeling it. It’s a love that truly can’t be articulated. When my first baby was born, that first cry took the breath out of my soul. It was the most amazing sound. My entire body, head to toe, rushed with this feeling. I tingled, I wept, and I laughed all at the same time. It was mother’s love. The love I have had for this little girl, in three years, grows immensely with each passing minute. Truly. Each day that I think I couldn’t possibly love this child more, I do. And then when that little girl was 10 months old, I learned that I’d be a mommy again. The pregnancy was different, the labor and delivery was different and even the love is different…. yet it’s the same. I cherish every living second with my little boy. I couldn’t kiss him or hug him enough in a day. I love these two little people with every fiber in my being. This love that I feel is so complicated. In a day, a single day, I feel pride, joy, frustration, guilt, worry, doubt, pain, happiness, relief and so many more things. All of this, just in the love for these babies.

If you’re a mama, I’m assuming you may be nodding your head in agreement. You know the love I’m talking about. What’s so amazing about this love is that it looks the same, and feels the same as the next mom. We all live differently, each love for each child from each mother is a little different (kinda like a snowflake!), but yet it’s the same. You know how I really know this? Pictures. I’m so fortunate to be around amazing mothers and children constantly. One of my favorite things is capturing them in a genuine moment with their babies, big and small. Though I could litter this post with hundreds of pictures from sessions, I photographed almost all of the moms in these pictures very specifically to show you mother’s love. Now tell me. Of the moms you see in these photographs, who vaccinates their child? Who works Monday through Friday? Who cloth diapers? Who bottle fed? Who had a cesarian? Who got an epidural? Who homeschools? Who only feeds their children organic foods? Who used the cry it out method? Who co-sleeps? You don’t know, do you? When asking these mom’s to be my models, I just asked them to interact with their kids. Some settings had a little more planning, but the interactions were not posed. I then asked them for a quick sentence or two describing how they feel when looking at their picture. Not one commented on whether they breastfed or formula fed. Cloth diapered or used disposables. Sent them to public school or private school. Not a single mother said anything about the parenting choices they make or have made which reflect their love. They just talked about their love. It’s because it’s the core. It’s the foundation. It’s what matters. It’s our driving force. That foundation is the same for all of us.A mother’s love is strong. It’s unwavering. It’s unconditional. The intent of a mother’s love is the same. To raise a happy, healthy child who is loved. The journey of a mother’s love is very specific to each mom and each child, but the destination is the same.

So, why am I writing this blog post? Because when I became a mother to my little girl on that amazing day, I was thwarted into this thing called motherhood. To say it’s overwhelming is an understatement. It’s this whole new world that I didn’t know existed. To be a mother is to be selfless and giving, all day, everyday. It’s absolutely exhausting. Quite frankly, I feel as though I should get a medal at the end of every day. And I think most mother’s do. We want to be recognized for the hard work we do every day, for all that we’ve sacrificed in that day in our attempts to be an amazing mom. But we don’t. We just have more laundry to do, more noses to wipe and little sleep to have before the next day starts. Honestly? I get friggin’ pissed when I don’t get that medal at the end of the day. Seriously. I want it. I want someone to praise me for how hard I worked today. I don’t have a boss giving me a raise or a pat on the back. My motivation has to come from within. It has to come from that mother’s love. And it does. Every single day it does.

But in those moments of feeling down (we all have them. At least once a day. Let’s be honest here!) I think we sometimes get caught up in our hopes to be recognized. We want to explain to another mother why vaccinating is the right or wrong choice. We want to explain and be validated on how hard we worked that day whether we drove to work after dropping the kids off, worked from home, or stayed at home being a mom all day. Or why homeschooling is the best. Or why using only non-toxic is the only option. Or whatever it is. We want the other moms to agree. They’re our tribe. We want someone to tell us we’re doing it right and that we’re doing the best we can. Sadly, in these conversations, I feel that we end up turning against each other. That we try and one up each other because by doing this, it helps validate that we worked really hard that day and made the right choices that day. In these moments, we’re judging the love that another mother has for her child. I have quickly (thanks to social media) seen so many groups of mother’s being mean and judgmental to one another. Your love isn’t better than mine! My love isn’t better than yours! It’s truly the same love. It’s this incredibly strong, powerful love. I am so fortunate to feel it and give it, and so are you. You and I together are making the best decisions we know how to make in a given day, and these decisions are being fueled by that love within. We may not be making the same decisions, but we achieve them with the same love. We may be on a different journey, but our destination is the same. It’s our love.

So, to all of you mamas out there. Good job. Today and everyday. You moved mountains. You loved that baby today and you loved them hard. Even through your frustrations, tears; through your smiles and hugs, you loved that baby. Whether you’re working from home, staying home or going to work. Whether you allowed screen time today or not. Whether you lost your temper today or had a really great day. Whether you were able to get dressed or not. Whether your 30 year old has moved out on their own or not. Whether your 14 year old finished their homework today or not. You did great today and every day. I’m not naive. I know that mom wars will continue. I’m not here to try and stop them. I know that there will be people who judge (hell, if you say you don’t judge, you lie. We all do it. Even if it’s quietly to ourselves for a split second). I know that my social media will continue to blow up with drama every now and then. But I can be at peace knowing that I truly believe that you love your baby and you are making the right decisions in how you choose to raise that baby (big or small), even if it’s not the same as me.

Happy Mother’s Day to you today and every day. You are an angel and your children are blessed to have you as their mother. Keep loving them the way you do.