Thank you, Emma, for this beautiful reflection on your Luxe Portrait experience. What a light you are!
“What I love about Mitzi is that when you say, “I want to do this fun/crazy/amazing/normal thing.” She says, “Okay, when? next week? Tomorrow? today?” As someone that has a million ideas, that’s intimidating but also THE. ABSOLUTE. BEST. So when I said that I wanted to do a Luxe shoot it was no different! We scheduled it for 3 weeks later and I was pumped! Even though my husband wasn’t sure what I was doing or why, he knew it was something I really wanted to do. He said things like, “I know you want to see yourself all pretty but you’re pretty every day.” He makes my heat melt, that one.
When I booked this shoot I thought of the way I see my mom. When I think of her I think of who she is, how she is, the hard work, the love, the long days she puts in. But I also think of 2 photos of her. One was on her 40th birthday with me next to her, my son in her arms, and a giant smile on her face. The second, and my favorite is a portrait that was done when she was 21. I wasn’t with her then. I was in El Salvador and she was here in the states saving up for me to be able to join her. The photo is a simple headshot with that generic blue background and she’s not even smiling. She is wearing a blazer with tiny houndstooth print and her eyeliner is extra dark. Her signature curly hair is down to her shoulders (shoulder pads!) and it reminds me of how portraits used to be a thing – Something passed down, hung up for all to see, heirlooms. I thought of my kids thinking of me when they are older and I’m not here. Or what if something happens and I don’t get to see them get married, have babies, start to like asparagus… I am in the prime of my life. My littles are old enough that they are independent yet young enough that I am still their entire world. I want them to remember this. I want them to remember me happy.
From the outside I see the Luxe experience as something that everyone should experience. To see themselves in the best light, the way they look to everyone that loves them and knows them. To love the way they look and to feel confident. When the day of my shoot came I was running late (no surprise), but I was also feeling guilty. Isabella and I had to leave a baby shower early and then I dropped her off at work with her brother and daddy. I immediately started feeling that ever present mom guilt. Like I was making this thing happen for me selfishly. Like I was abandoning my kids for me to go get dressed up for what, photos of myself? Why? I struggled on the way there and when I got there Mitzi was her usual self, kind, warm, inviting, comfortable. Even if I didn’t know her before the shoot I’d feel comfortable with her. The problem was I wasn’t comfortable with me. I was stuck in my head. I wanted to cry. I felt the tears before I even got there. After having my makeup done and doing the wardrobe selections we went in to the studio. I was tense and just weird. I know Mitzi could sense it. A few minutes in Mitzi wanted a laugh… I just couldn’t do it. I actually started crying. She just looked at me and asked if something was going on with Mathew and I or something… I told her no. I just wasn’t feeling it. She sat me down, got me some water, and repeated back to me my own words. She’s not the only one that has done that to me, not the first time someone quoted me back to me and I think that probably happens to all moms. We are wise, we know taking care of yourself is the best way to take care of others. We know getting rest, eating healthy foods, and doing something nice for yourself is necessary even if it’s sporadic. Nice things like having your makeup done, getting dressed up, and having portraits taken, Emma! Taking 2 hours out of your 168 week for yourself is NOT selfish. I have a hard time focusing on myself. Even at a cocktail party last week when people ask me what I do I tell them the least of my accomplishments. “I’m AP at Leggett and Platt Branch One… and I do a few other things for fun” I don’t say, “I started the Hip Handmade Market and it’s a huge success and I’m awesome.” Being there focusing on me was overwhelming, paralyzing actually. As a mom your body, your time, your being is not your own. The saying that having children is like having your heart walking outside your body is legitimate. It’s exhausting being the everything for someone, it’s also the most wonderful thing in the world. When my kids grow up I want them to see me as more. I want them to see me like I see my mom. Not just as my mom but also as someone strong, kind, creative, hard working, giving, with a life of her own. I want to be someone outside my kids…. not because I’m selfish, but because I want them to have the same thing, I want them to be anything and everything they want to be and I know they will be a reflection of what I show them.
After our talk, Mitzi and I blasted Beyonce and I channeled that. I deserved that.”