Are you Mom to a teenage daughter?
Are you looking for connection, encouragement, and tips on how to navigate these crazy teen girl years?
Then grab your camera and your coffee, and join us!
Do you remember what it was like to be a new mom? I remember a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. Whether it was our first baby or our third, I remember those first nights, exhausted but so scared. What in the world was I doing? I had no idea how to be a mom! I remember wishing all the time that my babies came with some kind of manual!
Well, fast forward a dozen or so years, and I am realizing that with bigger kids come bigger issues. Bigger worries. Bigger questions. And still, there is no manual.
Recently, I had a wonderful portrait session with some of the sweetest teen girls, who happen to also be students of mine. I even got some of their moms to join us for the afternoon.
Part of the portrait project involved them sharing their advice with me. I wanted to hear their voices, so that I could offer their thoughts to other moms out there who might be looking for some help.
I thought MAYBE I could create a sort of “mini manual” for my moms. I’ve decided to write these out in list and bullet form. Each listed statement has a few bullet points below it. These are the words of the girls themselves. Rather than paraphrase what they said, I’d love to share their exact words with you.
“Teenage drama is not fun.”
“Mean girls are still around, trying to bully me and take me down.”
“It’s hard to live up to the expectations that society puts on us girls.”
“My favorite way to connect my mom is when we sit down and chat right before I go to bed. We talk to each other about the good and bad things that happened throughout our day.”
“I wish moms knew that we need space and we have bad days and we act moody, please try to understand.”
“I wish [my mom] knew that sometimes I just need be alone.”
“My mom’s voice is my inner voice. So the way you speak to your teenage girl will also become her inner voice. I advise you to be mindful of everything you say.”
“Even though your daughter(s) may not admit it, you are the most important thing in the world to them and no matter their age they always need you.”
When asked what they see as most beautiful about themselves, the girls said:
“I think the most beautiful thing about me is my strength. I am a very strong person, and my mom is too. I think I grew up seeing just how much strength my mom has, that I developed it too. I love my mom more than anything, and I'm so glad that we are both strong, beautiful, incredible people.”
“My mind. I believe it’s the most beautiful thing I possess.”
“My compassion for others.”
“My parents always tell me that I have a big heart. I try my best to be a generous person and show my love to those around me. Even when I have my poker face on, one look into my eyes and you will understand every emotion that I am feeling.”
How awesome are these girls? And how awesome are their moms! These moms are doing it right. And you know what, Mom? So are you! Just the fact that you are here, reading up on how you can stay connected to your daughter, how to understand her better- it shows what a great mom you are. So keep it up!
I thought it would be fun to create for you a pretty reminder of these FIVE FACTS. And so that’s just what I did! I created a screensaver FOR YOUR PHONE (how fun!) to help you remember these few tips, and mostly remind you that you’re doing GREAT!
I also want to share with you the link to my FB Group, Love Through The Lens. It’s a group for moms with teen girls, and it’s a great resource to find encouragement and company on this road of mothering teen girls.
We’re doing ok Mom, and so are our girls.
Special thanks to the amazing girls who contributed to this portrait project. And thanks to the amazing moms who are on this journey with them.
We’ve heard them all. The inspirational quotes, the success stories, the pep talks. And they’re nice to consider, or to print out and put up on the inspiration board. But at 2am, when you’re wide awake, and your brain won’t stop asking questions, imagining horrors, replaying mistakes… well, it’s a bit harder to believe those mantras.
This seems most true when it comes to our girls. For me, the questions, the worries, they can hit me any time. Does she have friends? Is she sitting alone at school? Is she lonely? Is she suffering? Am I missing something? These are my greatest fears, and played well, these fears can take me down the rabbit hole of future scenarios that do not look good for my B.
Am I the only one who thinks like this? Are any of you moms falling down similar rabbit holes? Does fear sometimes grip you like it grips me? Does it feel as if the fears have multiplied now that she’s moved into the tween and teen years?
I’m thinking I’m not the only one. I’m also thinking we can kick this fear thing out of our brains with something called “Fear Setting”.
We all know what goal setting is. In fact, we worked on that in a recent post (HERE). But “fear setting” is a bit different. I first discovered this while reading "The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. (There’s also a super TED talk about it RIGHT HERE). Without going into too much background, “fear setting” is an ancient technique that Ferriss discovered, tweaked, and now uses all the time. It’s basically exposing our fears, laying them out in detail, and then crushing their power. Let me break it down. You’ll need a pen and some paper for this.
The first thing to do is to expose the fear, to envision it in detail. Yeah, that sounds fun, right? OK, so take that fear and write it at the top of your paper, as a “what if” question. For me that might look like:
“What if she has no friends throughout middle school or high school?”
Below your “what if” question, create three columns, and title each one Define, Prevent, and Repair, respectively.
Define: In this column, write out in detail, what this fear looks like. Paint your fear with words. What would it actually look like for my daughter to have no friends in middle school? What would it actually look like for your daughter to fall in with the wrong crowd? To fail math? To be bullied? To be a bully? Write it down. Bullet points work well here. Jot down phrases, details, ideas, fragments. Brainstorm your fear. Define it.
Prevent: After giving your Define column a once over, go to your Prevent column and write down any steps you can think of that you (or your daughter, or both of you) can take to PREVENT these details from happening. What could you do alone, and what could you do with her to PREVENT these things? Remember this is PREVENT, so we’re looking to get out ahead of the fear here, to consider what to do BEFORE it happens. Brainstorm and write every possible solution down here.
Repair: Finally, consider what you (or both of you) could do if this actually did happen. If she really did end up with no friends. If she really did fail a subject, or started drinking, or fell into depression? How could you help her through this? Go back to that first column, those details defining this fear. Brainstorm your solutions to repairing this. List tangible ways you and she could get through this together.
Now take a moment and look at these lists. You’ve now given your fear a face, and a lot of detail. You’ve shown yourself ways to keep this fear from happening, but you’ve also come up with ways to fix it if it does. Basically, you’ve taken this fear and you’ve kicked its ass.
Look, I’m not saying that this exercise is going to solve everything. I’m looking at this road of mothering a teen daughter and I’m thinking that the chances are pretty good that we’ve still got some bumps ahead of us. But what I am saying here is that maybe we actually CAN do something about these fears. Maybe, next time, instead of heading down the rabbit hole of fear and horrific scenarios, we can do some “fear setting” and come up with some practical steps to prevent and repair. Maybe we’re not as helpless as we sometimes think.
And one more thought.
Maybe we’re not as alone in this as we think. Maybe we’re all afraid. Maybe we’re all unsure. Maybe we’re all wondering how to raise these ladies. Maybe we could do this together.
Today’s gonna be a sweet and shallow day!
What I mean is that I’ve been taking us rather deep for the last couple of weeks. I’ve shared my thoughts on starting the journey again, we’ve dug deep into our WHYs, and we’ve even set some Mom goals together.
So today, I want to keep things light. After all, sometimes we’ve only got time for light and sweet right? That seems to be especially true for us moms.
Today’s post will take you just a few minutes to read, and just FIVE SECONDS to implement. How’s that for a time saver?
When it comes to photographing our daughters, a lot of elements come into play. There’s directional lighting to flatter her, there’s posing her in ways that show off her best features and that minimize the ones she’s a bit less confident about. There’s the technical side of shooting, knowing what aperture is, and how to blur the background. We’ll get to all of that in the coming posts.
But today’s tip takes 5 seconds, and can take your photos from “snapshot” to “portrait”, all before you even grab your camera.
Simply put, before you press the shutter, take FIVE SECONDS to look around your scene for any clutter, any distractions, any unflattering backgrounds that you can remove to improve your shot.
If you’re in her room, check for dirty laundry on the floor- then remove it (or better yet, have her remove it!).
If you’re outdoors and there are parked cars or dumpsters behind you, reposition her (or yourself) to remove them from the frame.
Look through your viewfinder before you take your shot. Is there a tree seemingly sprouting from your daughter’s head? Move her 2 inches to the left or right and you’re good to go.
FIVE SECONDS! That’s all it takes. It can mean the difference between a cluttered snapshot and a clean, finished portrait.
Get in this habit whenever you take a photo- even a photo on your phone. Consider this your new FIVE SECOND RULE.
Ever have a moment where everything around you just seems to freeze, and you hear the voice of your heart speaking as clear as day to you? I had that moment early last month, and it’s the reason why I’m back here blogging.
Let me back up a bit. To the week when everything came to a head. The week when my 12 year old daughter shared with me some of the struggles she’s been having at school. (isn’t middle school just the best???) The same week my teaching contract came up for next year, and the question of whether to continue in the classroom or return to my passion resurfaced. The week when all three of my worlds collided, and then settled into a peaceful clarity.
I’m sure many of you can relate to the truth that being a mom is insanely hard! From the moment our kids arrive, we are a basket of emotions, in love with them in a way we’ve never known, exhausted to a degree we’ve never experienced, worried like we never knew we could worry. But this. This tween and teenage phase, particularly with a daughter. Well, this is a whole different kind of beast!
My mother warned me about this (a story for another post), but I really had no idea. Raising a young lady is hard! One minute my heart is aching over whether she is happy or lonely or afraid, and the next minute I’m doing everything in my power not to lose it on her as she sasses me for absolutely no reason! Who is this girl? Where did my sweet baby go? Why does she hate me? Oh, wait, now she loves me? Why does she think she’s ugly? Who told her that? Why doesn’t she see what I see?
The questions, the uncertainties, they are endless.
I know you know what I’m talking about.
So during that week, when the perfect storm of parenting, passion, and profession erupted, I was able to see it for the gift that it was. Earlier in the week, when my mind swirled around the question of whether to continue teaching or not, I had jotted these thoughts onto a Post It note: “Had no plans to teach. What’s changed? Is this an opportunity? Am I afraid of business or of trying?”
Not one day later, my daughter stood crying in my arms sharing her experience of loneliness at school. I stood in our kitchen, holding her, and crying with her, and I felt so thankful that I could at least just be there in that moment. Then I remembered that I was free from teaching the next day, and suggested I take her out for lunch. The relief on her face, and relaxing of her body in my arms was instant. I was able to rescue her, even just for a moment, and we were both grateful.
It was just a brief rescue, but it was precious. We grabbed a quick lunch the next day, smiled and laughed a lot, and I was able to bring her back to school fill with love, and the assurance that I’d be waiting for her after school. We hugged and she hurried off, knowing this would not be an everyday thing, but that it was in perfect timing. It reminded me of how much my kids still need me, and how much I want to be there for them.
While organizing past business files, I came across some brainstorming I had done less than one year ago, titled “Fifty Questions to Find My Passion”. About halfway through the list, I found it. The answer to a question about what I dislike doing. It said, “I don’t like staying up late for dorm duty, although I like the girls. I hate teaching English, never want to do it again.”
Woah. When did I forget this?
In that moment, it all sort of fell together, my passions, my purposes, my plans. Somehow I had found myself doing something I never intended to do again. I knew why I had accepted the job, agreed to help out my community when they needed help. But why was I going to pursue it further? I don’t care for the subject I teach. No, what draws me to teaching is always the students. I don’t love teaching English. But I do love teaching.
This revelation, coming on the heels of time spent with my daughter, following the hesitation over walking away from my business, was peaceful yet powerful. I knew I was ready to try again.
Which brings me here with you, today. Thomas Edison once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to just try one more time.” That’s what I’m doing, with my business, with my parenting, with my life. I’m just trying again.
My passions in life are simple. I love my family, and my sweet sassy daughter. I love taking pictures of people. And I love teaching. I do. I don’t love teaching English, but I love teaching. I love sharing what I know, what I don’t know, what I’m learning myself. So here I am, doing all three.
Trying each day to be a mom, a photographer, a teacher, a woman, a friend.
If that resonates with any part of who you are, then come take this walk with me. Let’s learn about parenting our daughters. Let me teach you how to use photography to empower your daughter (and yourself!). Be encouraged to try along with me.
Let’s never be afraid to fail. Let’s just be afraid to not try.
Looking forward to our journey together.
I am lucky and blessed to have a lot of love in my life.
I love my family. I have the most wonderful friends. I love photography and my job as a portrait photographer. I love encouraging others. I love writing this blog, and sharing my thoughts and ideas, even if only five people are reading it.
What I'd like to share with you today is how fun it is for me to combine all of these wonderful things together- friendship, family, fun, photography. I love to use my photography to express my love. But rather than bore you with more stories, I thought I'd just offer you a list of my favorite ways to do that. Short, sweet, and to the point!
1. Display photos of the ones you love! Get them off your computer and onto your walls. Be reminded daily of your favorite people.
2. Do a "photo a day" project for the first year of your baby's lives. My sister-in-law did this and it was wonderful!
3. Take photos of your children doing their favorite things. This could be as simple as reading, or coloring. Capture it.
4. Invite your girlfriends out for coffee and photos. Tell everyone to bring their camera (or phone!), as this date is for capturing photos. Share them all with each other.
5. Send your parents a framed photo of your family- one that includes you!
6. Carry your camera with you more often. Then you'll never miss an unexpected photo opp.
7. Take a selfie and text it to your significant other- just a simple smile in the middle of the day for no reason. What a great way to say "I love you!"
8. Post old snapshots of your babies to a bulletin board in your office. Everyday photos of them from years ago. Be reminded of the good old days everyday.
9. Invite your social media friends to share old photos of the two of you, or the group of you. Create a visual memory post!
10. Invite your bestie out for an afternoon with her kids. Offer to be her photographer for the day so you can capture her life as mom.
11. Take photos of your baby's feet, lips, nose, ears. All the little parts that will soon grow big and strong. Capture them in their baby stage.
12. Take your daughter out with you on a photo shoot. Not necessarily to take photos OF her, but to take photos WITH her. Share your passion with her.
13. Take your favorite photos from the past year and create a simple album. Many sites offer templates where you can drag and drop. No words necessary. Just create a tangible memory of the past year.
14. Take photos of your partner's special place and have it framed for him.
15. Capture some photos of your friends and you enjoying a favorite pastime together. (fair warning to my friends- I plan on doing this very soon)
16. Make plans to take photos of your friend's children. Have them framed and gift her with them for her birthday.
17. Spend an afternoon going through old photos with your siblings, or your parents. My dad and I love doing this together.
18. Take a photo of your furry, four-legged best friend. Frame it and add it to your family photos. (I can't be the only one who considers the dog family!)
19. Take a photo of yourself with your mother. You will never ever regret that.
20. Have photos taken of your parents, so you can have something to treasure for always.
21. Capture the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some of my favorite photos are ones of my kids crying! (that sounds horrible, doesn't it)
22. Don't stop taking photos of your spouse. There might be kids, a house, a dog, jobs, bills. But it all started with his smile, his eyes, his heart.
23. Take photos of your kids with dad. If you're like me, seeing your husband loving your kids is heart-melting. You'll want to capture that.
24. Take a photography course. Learn more about how to improve your skills, so that you can capture more of what you love.
25. Invite your daughter's friends over for a playdate, and let their moms know you'll be taking photos of the afternoon. Your daughter will love to have memories with her best friends!
26. Take your kids out for ice cream at sunset. Bring your camera and capture the joy.
27. Spend an afternoon writing down the little things you love about each of your children. Then find a way to capture those little things with your camera.
28. Take a photo of your child in his favorite outfit. Do this periodically. Then laugh as their styles change.
29. Take photos of your babies sleeping.
30. Take photos of your daughter with her favorite stuffed animals, or her baby dolls. What a gift for her later on.
31. Give your teenager a new camera. A decent entry level camera won't break the bank, and it might get you two out shooting together.
32. Spend an evening with your spouse going through your wedding photos together. Laugh about how young and naive you were.
33. Take your camera on a solo walk on a quiet morning. Capture the THINGS you love. Be mindful of how much you love what's around you.
34. Capture at least one photo from every birthday in your house. With a camera. Not just with a phone. (this one is very hard for me)
35. Take a photo of your home. Your front door, or your kitchen table. An image that symbolizes home to you. Frame it.
36. Take note of anything your child, particularly your daughter, might struggle with concerning her physical features. Photograph her in a way that shows her how beautiful those features really are.
37. Photograph your friend with her teenage boy(s). I could think of few things I'd love more than a photo of my oldest boy hugging me. He still loves me right? ;)
38. Take a photo of the kids playing around with the dog. Frame the results (I'm doing this for sure- this week!!!)
39. Get a photo of your mother with your daughter, or your father with your son. Criss-cross generations. Capture time.
40. Spend an evening going through vacation photos with the family. Get excited about the next vacation together. Family time is treasured time.
41. Bring your camera along on a weekend getaway with the girls. A friend and I are planning one this summer, and you better believe I'm bringing my camera!
42. Take the kids on a picnic, even if it's just out in the backyard. Photograph the fun.
43. Ask your child's teacher if you can get a photo of them together. My children have had some of the most wonderful teachers. I love having photos of them.
44. Frame a photo of your child with her best friend. Put that photo in her room.
45. Be ready to capture photos of your kids loving on each other. If your house is like mine, this is becoming a rare occasion. So I capture it when I can!
46. Keep a photo of your husband next to your bed. Even though he's right there, he'll know he's still (and always) your extra special someone.
47. Send a thank you to someone who helped you or your child through a tough time (like a hospital stay). Include a photo of that child so they can always remember.
48. Capture everyday memories, in addition to the special occasions. You'll enjoy looking back and remembering what everyday life was like when the kids were young.
49. Make a habit tracker, and add "TAKE PHOTOS" to the list of habits. Make photo taking a daily habit.
50. Stretch yourself and think outside the box. Find new ways to photograph the ones you love. Take chances and keep learning. Your memories will become more and more beautiful with every new discovery.
So what did I miss?
Share some of your own favorite ways to share love with your camera! I'm always looking for new ways to share love!