Walking on Eggshells | Seasons of Motherhood

I’m learning to pause

and I’m learning to choose my battles. In fact, I’m learning to walk gently and
with intent across eggshells these days, as a mother to a teen.

We’re fast approaching the two-year mark of when I last held up my camera to photograph her
within our day-to-day family life, when she said “no photos please.” So this unplanned series of
self-portraiture carries on, with me continuing to photograph myself in the situations I see her in,
but she won’t let me. This photographic series has started to include me attempting to visualise a
few of my escapisms, from these constant eggshells I walk over, beside her, to constantly show
that I’m here.

Navigating a young person through school exams, along with some anxiety and self
consciousness, has me feeling all sorts of out of control during this tricky and intricate time. I find
that I’m having to learn super-quickly, from which pieces of my well-meaning advice are said out
loud, or whether I ask certain questions like which subjects she’s revising today; I’m often met with
an eye-rolled silence or various dramatic ways of saying “leave me alone.” I now try to rehearse
any motherly advice in my head a few times over before deciding if I should say them out loud.
Sometimes I have out-loud moments on the days that I drive her to school. It’s these precious car
journeys that have become important to us both. A time when we grab coffee and toast for the road
and get to align ourselves for that day ahead. But sometimes we don’t talk at all, we just turn up
the music and sing Glee soundtracks very loudly and it’s these moments I will always treasure.

When I start conversations about how proud I am of her, about how she’s navigating first-time
challenging situations in life her own way, I find myself explaining that I was never that smart and
aware as she is, when I was her age. I’m usually met with a response of “what is it with all the
inspirational speeches mum, and why do you squeeze them all into one car journey?”

I know I’m not alone, my teen-mum friends and I regularly confer, listen and commiserate in each
others’ stand-offs with our kids. All the while never losing hope that everything will make sense and
be more harmonious again. After all the day our babies were born, we gave them our hearts and
from that day onwards we’re right here sharing the highs and lows, for richer for poorer as the
saying goes.
With all the insightful parenting podcasts collectively listened to, the ‘I’ve been there myself’ blog
posts read, along with the dipping in and out of ‘you’ve got this’ styled-books, I have an unwavering
certainty without any of the aforementioned. Which is this; my grounding comes from our ever-
evolving relationship between a mother and daughter, and that how we navigate this time between
us will always be uniquely ours.

So choosing which conversations come from my thoughts to my mouth has become a finely tuned
art form. And as we sing along to that final Glee track before turning into the school gates, I glance
sideways and know that she’s going to be a force of nature in this world, she’s going to be just fine.


As featured in the Summer 2023 issue of Juno Magazine

This is Artifact Motherhood; a collaboration of artists and mothers from around the world, who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Through our writings and visual records, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artefacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.

Next up in the blog circle is the talented artist,  Diana Hagues

Artifact Motherhood | a story of a pointe shoe fitting

As she sat waiting to try on her first ballet pointe shoes I remembered this…

“To Jeanie’s mum, please don’t forget Frankie (the toy elephant) for next week’s class, with love from Miss Angela.”

the note passed to me by my red-eyed, tear-stained three-year-old daughter, written by her ballet teacher after a rather fraught ballet lesson. You see, we had arrived in such a rush to realise we’d forgotten him. She walked into class Frankie-less, her weekly mascot that was allowed to sit with the other toys brought, quietly in the corner to watch the children practice their ballet.

The years have past and Frankie no longer gets to watch, but the no-nonsense love and commitment given by Miss Angela, to her dancing family, remains as strong as ever.

The saying ‘the show must go on’ has never been more true, as we went from a dazzling dance show last March 2020 into a global pandemic.

Now we can’t quite remember a time when there wasn’t a weekly zoom-ballet lesson in our living room, but she’s back into the dance studio once more. And less than a week later we find ourselves in the magical kingdom of a dance shop, being fitted for her first ballet pointe shoes.

The resilience of these kids continues to shine brightly, even through their protests of embracing a new-normal life. One which has gone from a virtual to a physical reality in a heartbeat.

So this day, this pointe shoe fitting, was much more than a mother’s honour to be part of such a key experience in her young dancer’s world. This was another huge step with her daughter, into unravelling from a locked-down world and proving that the show really must go on.

Artifact Motherhood is a collaboration of artists/mothers from around the world. Sharing stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Our hopes and dreams for our children. With little nuggets of wisdom here and there. These are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifacts we are leaving behind for our children and the generations to come.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, the talented Jessie Nelson and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.

Seasons of Motherhood | Seasons of Change

Seasons of Motherhood

Season of Change

As a new school term begins and she turns 14, I’m transported back to a time when I had her thigh-high at my side, a proper mini partner-in-crime. I can remember most of our conversations from back then. With a few I’ve just left right there, in those happy carefree moments when she couldn’t tell the time and I didn’t look at a watch. We had micro adventures daily, we could write books about some of them, maybe we will. This day was about a walk up to the woods. This was about finding the right sticks to bash away the tree pirates and obviously to measure how much the wheat field was growing. Somewhere into the walk would be the question “Did you bring snacks mama? I want blueberries, have you got some?”

This year has undoubtedly been a year of immeasurable adventures for many of us. Mostly and safely closer to home than usual. She may well be nine years older, but this daughter of mine has skipped into a new school year after six months out, with fresh attitude and a little more sass. Not so much my thigh-high baby buddy, nor holding my hand or brandishing sticks quite so much these days, but here before me is a young warrior who’s carving her way in this world with innovation, curiosity and sackfuls of kindness.

This is Artifact Motherhood; a collaboration of artists from around the world who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Through our writings and visual records, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.

This entry is the third in a series called “Seasons of Motherhood” and is meant to be one picture and one caption that represents our current journey/season of motherhood.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, the talented Jess Cheetham, and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.

Family Life the slowed-down way

I’ve kept my camera by my side like another set of eyes, just wanting to hold onto every surreal-yet-normal moment

My first thought, when writing this piece for JUNO Magazine, was to talk about my approach to the family photography I do, and the buzz I get when I know I’m going to peek into a new home and get to connect, observe and tell an honest story for that family on that given day. But it’s evolved, straight into a circle back to my own family.

Family photojournalism or family storytelling (to give it a genre) is thankfully treading the boards of
its own stage in the photography world, alongside stunningly crafted portraits and outdoor
beautifully golden-hour lit lifestyle photo-shoots, and I couldn’t be happier. To be given the
opportunity to engage and record a time in a family’s history that is incredibly real and feeling for
decades to come, quite seriously is the only way for me. Whether it’s photographing the flung
pieces of mashed avocado at meal times, or a heartfelt sorry-cuddle after a sibling stand-off. It’s
these genuine connections and those quiet in-between moments that you rarely get to see unless
you really look, or more importantly we will all need reminding of in time to come. The honestly
told day-in-the-life family album.

I was blessed to spend two different days with two different families earlier this year. They each
epitomised every reason why I approach this type of storytelling. However, both came with a
personal challenge to me. Neither wanted photographs to be shared online in my portfolio for a
variety of valid reasons which I completely respect. Nonetheless, as I sat quietly in a corner of their
rooms watching and photographing them, I couldn’t help but feel my heart sink a little as I clicked
away at some beautifully real moments I knew I would never share with the world. Having said this,
the trust and connections I form with my families mean the most and it’s this that grounds me, I’m
photographing for their family’s future generations, not mine.

Then came a pandemic to slow down life, and enable me to fully turn the camera onto my own
family. It’s no lie that the past few months were hectic leading up to it and

I realised in a heartbeat that I needed to learn to stand still with them all over again.

It honestly felt that our home transformed overnight into a dance studio, classroom, canteen and
cinema. The existing daily vision of a vintage motorbike being built in our family room over winter
and spring, suddenly erupted into a more permanent and expanding longer-term project. We found
our rhythm and it was in our own chaotically effortless way.

Aided by the steady flow of goodness and innovation that began to flow from so many
communities, offering creative and physical support both locally and online. So we flowed ourselves, into our own version of classroom learning. Using our newly plastered stair wall as a timeline for daily questions such as, ‘who was Emmeline Pankhurst?’ and ‘what’s the difference between an asteroid and a comet?’

The usual smartphone and laptop time limit dissipated as
maintaining lost play dates and sleepovers, along with having birthday celebrations through these
devices became a truly lovely and crucial alternative to stay connected with others.
We took to the streets with chalk messages… well wishes to neighbours, love and thanks to
healthcare and key workers. We have felt the sweet moments of giving virtual hugs to friends from
across the road as they scootered by. We drop food bags at grandparents’ doors while waving all
the love we can to them at two metres apart. These are times mixed with some laughter, mindful of
our own needed space and the odd sneaky tear or two. I’ve kept my camera by my side like
another set of eyes, just wanting to hold onto every surreal-yet-normal moment.

Then comes that personal challenge again, this time from my 13-year-old. As I rightly need to get
permission from her for every photograph I want to use. Déjà Vu. Investing in lengthy verbal battles
to explain this is all for family album, particularly in these exceptional times. I won’t continue with

how some days it works, how other days there’s an outright “no” to taking her photograph… these
are the days are resigned to still life and self-portraiture! So it’s that fine balance of respecting her
wishes, without question, to me pleading with her for the sake of her very own family album to look
at in decades to come.

There has definitely been a strong yearning to record the gentle and honest moments of my own family during this compulsory downshift to family life. Which I find incredibly poignant as it is exactly what I strive to do with other families when I’m invited into their homes.

But right now, aside from keeping my family loved, fed and safe, I know I will look back with some gratitude on the days I got to stand still and explore my own home.