Sunday, October 27, 2013

43/52

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Che: there was only one ice-block left so we hid in the garden and he savoured every. last. bite.
Poet: Perched on a step stool, this will always be her spot at the table.

A few months ago I was asked to write a piece about motherhood for papier mache magazine. The current issue features my story and I thought I'd share it here with you. No doubt you'll understand my sentiments. 

Child Nostalgia

There's a common saying amongst mothers, first coined by writer Gretchen Rubin in her book The Happiness Project: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Indeed, our days of mothering babies and young children can be tiring and messy; a cycle of washing, settling, cleaning and playing. Sometimes they’re monotonous and seemingly endless. But then, without so much as a blink, the sleepless nights and mornings at the park are over, and we’re sending our children off to school, hesitantly cutting the metaphorical cord once again.

I regarded 2012 as The Year Before My First-born Went to School. We were holidaying in the country when the New Year rang in, living in an old school house with heavy doors, panelled windows and musical floorboards. On New Years Day, Che, my four-year-old, scraped his toe whilst running barefoot outside. He came into the house, perched himself on a chair, and asked for a band-aid. He was adamant that he was going to fix it all by himself so I stood back, stayed silent, and took a photo. It became the first of 52 portraits - one for every week in 2012. 

I set about taking my children’s portraits as a way of documenting their fleeting childhood. I wanted tangible evidence of their growth and expansion; an honest account of their young, innocent lives. I took photos of Che sitting hesitantly on the side of the pool, hiding from the camera; his shadow an eerie replica, the twiddling of his toes - a family trait. Poet was all round and soft in her first photo and as the year progressed I watched her limbs grow longer, her face more defined, her independence evolve. There are photos of her inquisitive eyes, her cheeky demeanor, and her top-knot; an unportrait of sorts that I’d probably nominate as my favourite. 

As 2012 came to a close I had 104 portraits - a story of Che and Poet’s year. Imbued in each image is my story too; a tale of motherhood with all its exhaustion, frustration, joy and palpable, immeasurable love. It’s a documentation of ordinary days that I wanted to remember because they were beautiful - an odd collection of singular moments that would have otherwise gone unnoticed amidst the general busyness of life. Even when the days were too long to enjoy I can see, in retrospect, that they were a blessing. 

Beyond the story of this portrait collection lies a strange reality; I look through it and experience a profound sense of nostalgia for my children’s younger selves. I already miss them! I miss them with a longing that only a mother’s heart knows; it’s deep and raw and acts as a beautiful reminder: to stop, observe and document. 

I’m still taking their photos - once a week, every week, in 2013. 


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I was so taken by these portraits (and the big sky) that it took me a while to realise that it's a park on a beach! Dream come true / all alight in the river - so very beautiful / it's all in the eyes and these siblings look so alike / three Js and three very different personalities / and finally, a portrait that candidly captures the deep, indescribable joy of family. Welcome, Milinh






38 COMMENTS

  1. Jodi,

    Your words are always so on point for me. I think of that quote often as it really does seem to define the period of parenthood when you have young children. This has been such a wonderful and at times challenging project for me and I am so happy to have done it this year - a year when a new family member joined us!
    But, goodness, how I can relate to missing the younger selves of my children just mere months ago! The love of a mother is so full, raw, and at times painful but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    Thank you for being an inspiration to us all!

    xo
    Cortnie

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  2. Oh Jodi, your words never fail to inspire and move me; to make me stop and think. Each one resonates with me so deeply. Beautiful portraits too xx

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  3. it's good to be reminded of this mamahood truth, thank you. we have a zoku quick pop maker, they are BRILL, never run out of ice lollies again. we get lots of use out of it and we live in rainy ol' blighty, you should definately get one, che would love it, it's like magic! you can see some of our frozen creations on my blog, (here for instance http://sianuska.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/lollies-2.html) PS: genuinely love the product, not some kind of sinister sponsored commenter or anything...

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  4. Your words ring especially true of my portrait this week...a little boy who is more and more often not taking his midday nap. Those days, the day is very long. But at the same time, I find it hard to believe we are on week 43. And that my baby is a two and a half year old boy.

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    1. Poet dropped her day nap at 21months (when I weaned her). She's never been a great day sleeper but I had hopes that she would keep that nap (Che slept 3hours till he was 3) despite all the signs saying otherwise. She sleeps 12 hours at night but she's up from 6:30am - 6:30pm - it's a long day and there are times when she really does need to sleep. I make sure we have some quiet time but she's such a busy little thing - she has lots to do, no time for rest! x

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  5. Beautiful! I must truly thank you for sharing how truly special and beautiful it is to take your child's photo. That time does not stop and in a blink they will be grown! And how truly wonderful it would be to have a lot of those memories documented through photography! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful words and pictures of your children/family! You are a huge inspiration to me, and hopefully someday my photos will be half as great as yours! I didn't do so well with sticking with the full year, but the times I did partake I am glad because I now have some lovely photos/memories of my kids :)

    xo,
    Shio

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  6. Such a gorgeous article, Jodi. Had me in tears. Kellie xx

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  7. Beautiful words that ring true for so many mothers.
    I'm loving your b+w images lately x

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  8. Jodi, so beautifully written. I am so grateful to you each week when I post my photo's, for bringing me this project and this challenge. I've said it before, but I know that these photo's will be some of our most cherished. I can't wait to put them all together in a photo book at the end of the year. Would you have any recommendations for printing such a keepsake? x

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    1. I'm going to use Artifact Uprising. They're based in the US but the quality is superb and I really love the options they have available. The only downside is that postage to Australia is exorbitant, hence I'm going to order my 2012 and 2013 52 books at the same time (as well as a book on our Bali trip). One book for us and one for each of the grandparents. Yes, it's going to be expensive but this is the kind of thing that will stay in our family for generations (hopefully!) x

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    2. I highly recommend Artifact Uprising. I have been so pleased with their prints.

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  9. Jodi you have inspired me ever since I stumbled on your blog. Your words and images feel like real gifts. The 52 Project will be one that I can hold in my hands and heart for many years to come and I know I'll be happy as anything looking at the journey in portraits of my Elsa. Thank you Jodi. Thank you! xx

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  10. Tearing up a bit reading those words. My eldest turned17 a couple of weeks ago and I miss the little girl she was so badly it breaks my heart. Why must it go so quickly? Thank you again for the 52 project and the chance to document these days with two youngest xx
    x

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  11. Very poignant. My little man is only 10 months and I already feel as you do. I hadn't heard the saying before, but it is so true! Thanks for sharing...

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  12. Such a beautiful read. Thanks so much for sharing....and more importantly, inspiring this journey of capturing and remembering our babies'. Hope your week is a lovely one :) x

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  13. I love this article. Thanks for sharing it here. Also, beautiful photos as usual. It seems like you have been falling in love with photography all over again. I love minimal internet when I'm away, but I love it all over again when I get back. Must have been a great time away. x

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    1. I have! And I've fallen in love with my camera again, too. It was such a great camera to travel with x

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  14. I actually read that article, I loved it, these photos are beautiful.
    xoxo

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  15. Lately I've been feeling so much of what you describe.I am so aware that I have one more precious year left with Ronan at home full time with me. I will cherish the weeks (and probably forget many times over during the days)... but I am sure it will pass all too quickly. x

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  16. I've found this 52 process both wonderful and difficult. Some weeks the only photos I've managed have been very pedestrian; other weeks, amazing. Next year I am considering doing both my children each week in one shot... maybe. I can't decide.

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  17. Beautiful pics this week. They really do capture those little childhood moments.
    Gosh, Poet looks so cute in her overalls!

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  18. I definitely relate to your article.. my eldest will be in year 2 next year, yet I can still see his newborn face (especially when he sleeps)! It's my youngest son's last year at home next year, before he starts school. My grandma had terrible dementia and seeing her suffer that, feel it's so valuable to capture the everyday. As I like to start and complete things in their entirely I plan to join in the weekly portrait link up in 2014. Alison x

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  19. Such beautiful words! I always force myself to stop and enjoy even the most everyday mothering tasks as I know that I will look back on these early days fondly. I hope you have a lovely week Jodi. Melinda :)

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  20. Jodi, which camera are you using?

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    1. ...the same camera I've been shooting on for three years - the panasonic GF1 with 20mm 1.7 lens. I'll be writing a bit about why I like it in a post this week. Keep a look out x

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  21. LOVEEEEEEEE THose little overalls!!!

    Cass x

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  22. Those words definitely ring true - I'm so glad I decided to follow allow with you this year already I look back at the first weeks photos and it feels like yesterday but also a lifetime ago.

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  23. Jodi, I didn't join in for the 52 project this year, because I wasn't certain about the commitment, and felt a little uneasy about sharing so many photos of my children in a public arena (which is silly, because I post pics on my blog of them regularly).

    I do, however love the idea, and your article made me love it a little more ... so I will be joining in next year, either privately or publicly, simply for the joy of creating such a nostalgic keepsake. Looking forward to it!

    ps we use the same camera – but mine is getting pretty battered these days and I was considering an upgrade. I look forward to hearing what you say about it.

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  24. Jodi, thank you so much for linking to my blog this week! Wow, I only just realised and feel very surprised (umm....shocked!) to see my little old snaps chosen by you. (the comment about the sibling eyes looking alike). Thanks so much, I have a big ol' grin on my face right now :) This is my first year doing Project 52 and I must say it has been a wonderful experience.... and though the year has raced by, the rhythm of tracking it weekly has been such a lovely experience. Thanks again xx

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  25. I love your portraits and words this week Jodi! x

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  26. Oh Poet's outfit is so beautiful! So happy to be joining in the fun! Thank you for creating this beautiful space.
    Sophie x

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  27. Beautiful photos, I love the black and white,. I've been really slack with my photo taking efforts this year. I've been quite nostalgic lately too and was disappointed I didn't keep up with this project. Your lovely words here have inspired me to 'get back on the horse' and finish off the year. I hope to make a stronger commitment next year if you decide to do 52 again! Thankyou for sharing this, Kelly x

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  28. Love the shot of Poet, the contrast between the hair ribbon and overall captured my imagination.

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  29. lovely pictures of your beautiful children. i too have been participating in the 52 project with my son. i plan on printing out all of the images when the 52 weeks are over. i believe it will be an album i will cherish.

    http://www.whimsical-girl.com/

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  30. So beautifully written and worded.
    Thank you for mentioning my three little J's :)

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  31. Your words above are just beautiful Jodi... so beautifully written with such emotion, honesty and love xx

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  32. Your words touched me Jodi. I have joined in sporadically this year - with great enthusiasm in the beginning, yet as the weeks went on I found it difficult to keep up. I gave up for a while, then realised that just because I had missed some weeks, I hadn't failed. So I jumped back in again. This year has been momentous, my little Pixie's first year, and oh how she has changed. My Birdie - at the start of the year she was a toddler (in my eyes) and has now become a girl-child. Thanks to this project I now have their story in pictures (albeit needing some camera training) with little notes of things I am likely to forget sketched underneath. How slowly, and quickly, time passes. Thanks Jodi x

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  33. You write so beautifully Jodi... 'musical floorboards'... they sound divine! ;-)
    (my boys twiddle their toes too... when they are beginning to bubble with happiness or excitement. I love it so much!)

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