Erika Ray Photography » blog

Dammit. This One Will Crush My Heart

Moms know this fact more than any other human: time moves faster when you change your title to those three little letters.  Sure there are days that seem to last forever, but for the most part you constantly ask yourself, “How did one year go by so quickly?”  or “How did he start Kindergarten?  Wasn’t I just burping him?”

As a Photographer, your job is to stop life and document it.  Your past constantly lives in your photos.  They prove the quickness and beauty of life.  Most obsess over this hobby because time is fleeting and it celebrates the constant change.

Mom + Photography is simply a match in heaven.  We get to relish in the the details of our past.

It allows us to romanticize the details.  Remember the cute cloth diapers?  Those itty bitty socks that never stayed on?  I doubt those nuggets will make me tear up in a couple decades.  I won’t sob when I see sippy cups.  I might let out an “AAWWW…” but I won’t stop for long.

But any photo with Owl or Train Blankie?

Hell yes.  Those photos will make me beg for a Time Machine.  I will trace those photos’ edges longing to feel that fleece.  Praying that my kids remember the comfort they gain by a simple square.  Or maybe the superhero strength they possessed the second it was secured to their neck.

But I’m a silly Girl, I know this isn’t true.  They won’t.  Their Life changes faster than we admit.  Coop’s Train Blankie was sacred and untouchable.  And in less than two quick years, he mocks Beck’s Owl Blankie love.

But I’m a Mom and I can’t forget love.  Those photos will bring me to my knees.

And here’s a guilty moment that I have yet to experience…  But I don’t mind telling you, because I bet you’ll have your own moment too.  Years from now I’ll see those blankies and I’ll bury myself in their comfort.

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  • xanthe - Yes yes yes!

    Spot on Ms E.

    Glad your words and images are flowing again. I’ve missed ya.
    xxxApril 24, 2014 – 11:48 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa Epp - Oh my. These images are filled with so much love, and happiness. I want to stop these moments for you.
    All to be cherished for sure! April 24, 2014 – 1:10 pmReplyCancel

Where Have All the Bloggers Gone

Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s just my desire to read blogs has waned.  But when my husband says, “I love looking at your blog, but here have you been?” I stop and listen.

I’ve been away from blogging.  Not doing a damn thing, but with nothing to say.  Maybe when you fall out of habit, you fall out of the necessity.  Blogging used to keep me sane.  It offered a place to vent and a place to connect (even during FB heavy days).  But blogging just fell off.  There isn’t a good reason for it to fall away, it simply did.

I miss the connection part most of all.  The posts when people would say, “I completely understand what you’re saying!” or “Thank you for saying what I’ve been trying to say for so long.”  Those comments, mostly from strangers, reaffirm to me that we’re a better society when we lean on each other.  When we recognize our similarities rather than focus on our differences, I believe life gets easier.

But in order to create that connection, someone has to pipe up.  And since it’s my blog, I’ll clear my throat and step up to the mic.

I can’t ramble on and on about an important topic, because I got nothing.  There’s nothing brewing that grabs my passion.  Things are flat out non-irritating, “boring-ish” in a good way, nothing tear invoking.  You get the picture: non-blog worthy.  So how about a bullet post this with a few things you might not know about me:

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  • I’d rather eat Mexican food than any other food.  Sour cream, Guac, hot sauce, big ass beer?  Yes please.
  • Unless you’re serving up Mya’s Fried chicken.  Then I’ll always take that.  Get to Columbus and visit their food truck.  You won’t be disappointed.  Hell, I’ll meet you there.
  • Cold hot dogs?  I forgot how good these were.
  • Nine and Six will be the ages I romanticize about my boys.  This age is my thing.  There’s a smidge of independence that I’ve been longing for since the newborn years.  There’s a confidence I have with the parenting part that was never apparent in previous ages.  And there’s the love they have for each other that is tear-inducing to witness.
  • I’m a bad text-er.  I reply too fast.  ”Does she leave by her phone?” and I hate when people don’t respond for hours.  I can’t stand the read receipt.  There’s no Smart Ass font.  I never proof it.  ”Shut” always comes out “Shit”. I’ve been told I’m mean in texts.  I can’t NOT respond.  Those damn three little dots have the ability to affect my life in an awful way.
  • Someone explain the weird voice on “Sam & Cat” and why my boys enjoy this show.
  • I’ve been on an odd Dolly Parton kick at work.  I firmly believe that “Islands in the Stream” could solve our world’s problems.  Every single one.
  • Now that we live in the community where we shop, I can’t run to the grocery without bumping into friends.  It’s still a fun surprise every time it happens.  If I gave a shit about my bedraggled hair and no make-up, it’d be an awful side effect of the neighborhood.
  • I blew Coop’s mind when I told him, “Yeah, I saw WWE’s Big Show once.”  I went through a weird wrestling phase after college.  Don’t ask because I can’t explain it.  And we have no clue why Coop’s into wrestling right now.  Genes…
  • I obsess on things and over people quickly.  It’s as if my life will never be the same once the discovery of the current Obsession.  And then the it floats away without notice.  Nothing replaces it except the whisper of sanity: What was I thinking?
  • I love that moment when you realize that you’re in a good place with your spouse.  You look over and think, “This is how life is suppose to be.”  As simple and as comforting as a bowl of homemade mac n’ cheese.

Mic down and I’m OUT!

Pick it up and share something if you want.  It feels pretty good.

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  • Beckie Pugh Lehlbach - I’ve missed your blogging, too! of course for your incredible photos, but mostly because you say the crap that I could never say since my family all reads my blog. I keep the peace by sticking to the straight and narrow and happy and clean, but live vicariously by your courage and honesty and vow that some day I’ll do that, too. welcome back!April 21, 2014 – 2:54 pmReplyCancel

Nine

This year our birthdays feel different.  Becks’ jump to six felt huge; an official See Ya Later to baby years.  And Coop’s bounce from eight to nine feels similar.  But I can’t put my finger on it.   He’s not change like a baby to boy or boy to tween.  He still simply a boy.  But Nine feels different.  

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Maybe it’s the first time that a birthday mades me feel older.  How has it been nine years?  How have I been doing this for nine year?  It feels like Motherhood has always been me and yet I know this is undeniably false.

Nine years ago my life changed in ways I wasn’t prepared to handle.  Every mother attempts to prepare for Motherhood, but we fail.  And that’s ok because it’s impossible to prepare for this journey.  The first baby is rattled with uncertainty and trial/error decisions.   I choose Motherhood with his pregnancy and I jumped into the decision with so much fear it could be viewed as Insanity.  I wish I could say, I became confident enough that the fear slid away.  But I’ve become wise enough to know the fear will never subside.  There will always be questions cloaked in fear:  will he be bullied, will he make good choices, will he be healthy, will he be a good friend, will he get into an accident, will he be able to handle stress, etc.  That fear is a constant hum because the love is so strong.

For nine years, I’ve been doing my best every single day with a “Manual” that changes rapidly, missing pages, and clueless authors.  I had to trust my instincts which were honed on non-baby experiences.  My instincts got stronger and I gained some confidence, but there’s still fear, chaos, and uncertainty that resembles madness.

But he makes it doable.

He’s my adventure.  He’s my compass.  He’s one of the reasons I roll out of bed.  He’s the reason life is better.  He’s the reason I’m better.  

He’s simply my reason for everything.

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I Got Cocky

Photography has taught me to stay in the moment more than any book or child or guru or<insert Stay in the Moment thingy-ding>.  Once I started to pay attention to my life, things unfolded in an easier and more beautiful manner.  I started to notice details and stopped living in my head so much.  One thing I began to pick up on is the Crap Ass Funk I got into every change from Winter to Spring.

Yep, Crap Ass Funks.  Not Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but CAF.  I don’t need a lamp or pills, I just realize that for the last two weeks of February, I’m in a Crap Ass Funk.  It just is what it is: crappy. It usually takes a couple days before I realize what hit me.  And then I feel the hard smack of CAF.  I know that I need to ride it out.  Like a bear who hibernates during the winter, I hibernate for about two weeks.  And then CAF slips away and the world is right again.

Mid-Febuary hit and I didn’t feel CAF-y.  I knew it was time, but I wasn’t feeling it.  And after this Winter, I should have been deep into my CAF.  But I wasn’t.  I got cocky.  Maybe I licked it!  Maybe I was CAF-free.  I was going into an office.  Seeing the same people everyday.  That surely is better than being stuck in my house working alone for months.  No more CAF for me!!

God, I’m a ridiculous little girl.

The office just starved off my CAF for a little longer.  But when CAF hit, it hit hard.  And I was unaware which makes any funk worse.  I was confused and pissed.  All I could do was work, stew on what I expected from a normal life (a.k.a. non-CAF life), relived conversations in my head, barely parented (I didn’t cook a meal for about two weeks, but I’d count heating from the freeze a meal. My husband doesn’t.  We ate cereal and a lot of eggs; not prepared by me), housework fell until the weekend, I didn’t return phone calls, didn’t call friends and my creativity was in the crapper.  Yep, I was in an awful and scary  mood.  When it finally dawned on me that it was simply a delayed and deeper CAF, I knew I  could do nothing but wait.

And just like all my funks, it slowly disappeared without any warning.  My seasonal CAF’s are never true depressions because they’re clockwork. Every year, my body says, “Slow down. Prep for the next season.”  But they end like any bout of depression: without warning.  They end like a gentle Mother who wakes her babies by slowly lifting the shade for the sun.  She quietly enters the room and whispers, “Wake up, honey.  The day is yours.”  That’s how my depression always ends.  Never like the loud Mom who’s heavy footsteps breaks the silence before she barges into the room singing/screaming “WAKE UP, Sleepy Head!”

Depression slowly lifts for me.

And I’m grateful that the day is slowly becoming mine again.

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  • Stephanie Risheill Heydt - Glad you’re feeling better. That top one of your son is especially beautiful–love it!April 22, 2014 – 8:21 amReplyCancel

  • Dan Constien - I feel the same way….I have been noticing more and more that February-April for me is craptastic regarding my emotional state…thought I tricked it this year, but, no. But now the new colors, buds on trees, and flowers have brought me out and now I feel renewed.April 24, 2014 – 1:18 pmReplyCancel

Baby Girl

Ever think some people were born to be Girl Mommas or Boy Mommas?  I was born to be a Boy Momma.  When I have to put up my own ponytail, the slightest tilt ruins my morning because I’m certain that I don’t have the Ponytail gene.  Sure, I could have parented a Girl and done our gender proud.  But I’m so happy I don’t have to prove shit to any gender.

After our longer than normal “In Person” meeting, I knew Melanie was going to be an amazing pure Girl Momma (it’s her second girl).  There’s something all Girl Momma’s have that I just don’t.  That something is a mystery quality that I admire and wish I had as a woman.  I instantly developed a Momma Crush (she’s a writer, photographer, good talker) and begged for the “Birth Photographer As a Second Job” stars to align.

They did.

I’m so grateful for strangers who let me into their homes.  I’m able to watch them without an ounce of reservation: it’s like the most perfect reality show.  And I’m blessed to be part of a very small audience.  From the beginning, Ross and Melanie were communicating without words.  He saw her and knew to check the contraction app.  There were tender parenting moments with their first-born.  During contractions, Melanie would reach for Emi’s hand and Emi knew the right time to touch her Mom.   Melaine would breathe through pain with grace, even though she knew it was going to get worse.  She gathered every ounce of strength to birth their second child.  And then there’s that moment.  God I love that moment…

The room shifts.  All the power goes to her.  For a split second, birth seems so easy.  And it’s always the most beautiful thing I ever get to witness: she becomes a Mother again.

I’ve never been at a Girl birth.  Ella was my first.  Her Momma is so damn amazing that I already know she and her sister are going to be badass women.  There’s no denying it.  They are being raised by a woman who knows what needs to be done and does it.  Their father never had to be asked for anything and just showed up with the solution (I’ve never seen a birth pool emptied.  Down before I left.  And did skin to skin.  That’s something, Folks.  Trust me. ).  These girls are lucky.  And I’m incredibly proud to have witnessed it for a couple of hours on a random Tuesday.

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  • Danielle Maxwell - <3March 6, 2014 – 10:38 amReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - This brought tears to my eyes, remembering that moment. Wonderfully written.March 6, 2014 – 12:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Ross Sonnier - Great post. AmazingMarch 6, 2014 – 7:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Nikki - It is SO momentous. Love the pictures of Mom and first child holding hands-and the look on the dog’s face…he/she knew something big was brewing. Great photos-and very cool that they let you in to do that!March 6, 2014 – 9:13 pmReplyCancel