For years now, I feel like I’ve been living on the edge of something. Teetering between something so small and yet something so big. Realizing what you’re possibly capable of all on your own can be a terrifying spot to be.
I started this little (yes little and I’m sticking to it) blog five years ago. It started out as a blank space – a fresh start – for our family. Our own new story to create and to document from scratch. What began as simply sharing recipes turned into full blown writing and photographing and editing and eventually…..my own brand. When I had our second son, Beckett, it made sense to stay home full time and this now became my ‘thing.’ Well, aside from mid night feedings and never ending laundry and baseball schedules and packing lunches and so on and so forth so is the everyday job of Mom.
Throughout the years I kept ALFS moving forward. Growing a bit each year right in the synch with the size of my boys. I bet there is almost a perfect correlation, we can even run it by the pediatrician: the more inches they grew, the bigger the blog grew. Because those inches meant a bit more independence, a bit more time at school, and a bit more time to devote to it all.
And then I found myself in an uncomfortable space. The blog has grown, it really has, but why on earth is that so hard for me to acknowledge? Why can’t I, at thirty four years old, answer the question ‘what do you do’ with more than ‘oh I’m home with my boys.’
I am home with my boys. 24/7. They are my world and more often than not I can be found lost in them. Yet this is becoming it’s own, dare I say….important world too? Actual real companies acknowledge me and want to partner up. Apartment Therapy sent a photographer out to shoot our home. A local magazine, Country, thought I would be perfect for a little feature. And you know how I responded?
Very, very hesitantly. And only if the boys would be included with me. They are a serious part of this brand and truly are my crutches in the sense of me standing on my own. I just am lacking the confidence. I haven’t been able to connect the dots of starting off with five, five, Facebook followers to now having thousands. I can’t grasp it. What is it I’m doing that people actually care about and want to know? Honestly, it’s a question I’m still trying to figure out.
So, I put myself out there and said a huge yes because in my mind it’s a small step into help connecting those dots. Send over hair and make up (what?!). The photographer. Welcome to our crazy home and lives, I’m trusting you all to capture it just right. I’m a control freak by nature. Every single word and image and article and item shared via A Life From Scratch for the last five years is all coming from me. I’ve chosen it and approved it. Not being able to control this shoot and ultimately what is selected to print? Let’s just say I’ve been a bit nauseous for weeks.
The week before print was the worst. I would go from not being able to sleep to having bad dreams about it all. I reached out to the editor in hopes that I could see something, anything, just to calm my nerves. Finally a friend of a friend sent out a small snippet via text…..
….and there I was.
A teeny tiny portion of the boys. A big portion of ME.
Wow, OK. Deep breath. While the magazine is oh so lovely and beautiful it all just felt strange to me. I’m in a living room chair I never sit in ever, without a kid on me, and not really even smiling. It’s definitely me, I mean the stripes alone seal the deal. But it also feels like someone different. Does that even make sense?
I did what most women in an unsettling situation would do and called a trust worthy friend. A friend that gives it to me straight, often sparing my feelings at times. What she said I knew I could believe in. Maybe not right away, but eventually.
‘Courtney, it’s a beautiful photograph. And I understand how you feel but seriously? Every time I think of you, you’re smiling. That is what you do, it’s a mannerism for you not an emotion. You also somehow also always manage to have a kid or two crawling on you, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen an image of you in a chair, alone. This is refreshing. It’s polished and serious. You look like a business woman in charge of her own brand, which is exactly what you are.’
This was a lot to process. Especially on the eve or so of this reaching every single mailbox in my zip code. A business woman? Polished? These are words that rarely cross my mind as I’m running in and out of Target in the slush and making edits on photographs while my three year old attempts to climb up my legs while saying ‘mom’ for the 497th time on a single day.
Yet, it’s true. And recognizing that truth is what I struggle with. What is the balance between admitting you’re on to something successful all on your own and being just a bit too into yourself? That is my fear and what I hope to grow into over the next year or so. Figuring out that extremely fine line. Because I never, ever, want that to be thought.
When I finally got the full layouts from the fantastic editor everything fell into place. There I was – on multiple pages – and yes, smiling! They captured us perfectly, absolutely perfectly. Even the not smiling photo. It needed to happen and was a sort of a kick in the butt to take myself seriously.
So, if you’re reading this because you found me on a google search from the article I want you to know this. The photo above? That is me. Day to day. Work out clothes but never made it to a gym, crazy hair, zero make up, in the kitchen with my preschooler by my side. We are cooking and playing and cleaning and librarying and grocery shopping and exploring and photographing. I also have my nine year old, Logan, who holds a massive part of my heart. He joins us at the end of the day and we play some more and have silly dance parties and do homework and get to whatever sport is in season right on time.
They are my life. But I also have another part of my life growing more and more. It’s us, but polished and I believe that this whole experience with Country Magazine helped me realize that. I’m out of the newborn and diaper haze of mothering and onto something new. While the boys are still a huge part, there is a tiny bit more room for mom. So hi. I hope you like us, I hope you’ll follow us along, because I promise big things are to come. Inch by inch as the boys grow, as we grow, I hope I can continue to believe I have no doubt I will get there.
Even if I don’t have it all quite figured out just yet.
*A huge thank you to Paula Brady way over on the North Shore for thinking of me for this wonderful opportunity, I appreciate your support of ALFS over the years! Also to the lovely photographer, Robin Subar, for an oh so fun photo shoot experience and making me feel comfortable – even sitting alone in a chair. Jules, for dealing with my aversion to make up and actually making me feel quite pretty. And finally to Ann Marie Scheidler, the managing editor at JWC Media, for the encouragement and making it all happen. I won’t forget this!