Ashleigh Coleman Photography » Southeastern Photographer based in Mississippi

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For St. Patrick’s Day, now that I know it is St. Patrick’s Day (thankfully, at my daughter’s preschool, they don’t pinch parents who forget), here are a few of my favorite film shots taken on the Hasselblad while in Ireland last year.

  • March 18, 2015 - 6:42 pm

    Amelia Patterson - LOVE love these! I’m dying to see the country side of Ireland…I spent some time in college in Dublin and it just didn’t satisfy my hunger!ReplyCancel

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A little warning: this is long.

A little background:  I have been doing A Day In The Life series for a long time.  First it was in the form of facebook albums back in the day when people still posted albums because there was no Instagram.  Then it became occasional posts on here about my children.  Then it transitioned almost fully to Instagram– things I saw, things I wanted to appreciate, things I wanted to remember.

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The idea behind this series came from reading A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in high school and then again (and again) in college (thank you Dr. Kalb and Dr. Ogden for all you ever taught me–it feels like yesterday).  Granted, I am not in a gulag in Soviet Russia and granted the idea came more from Tolstoy (or was it Dostoevsky?), but, whatever, I took the title from one author and the theory from another and smushed them together into something that made sense in my head.  Here it is –the theory– just as some older Russian writers tried to defamiliarize an ordinary object in order to see the ordinary afresh, to see it again, to see, so I, too, would pursue the goal of trying to see that which I normally overlooked.  So.  Yes, that is the idea behind that series (I might have a thing for starting projects or series).

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Oh, and in case anyone missed the memo, I am not only a Mississippi (wedding) photographer with a penchant for traveling whenever I can, I am also, mostly, a mother.  A mothering Mississippi photographer?  No, no one would hire me if I went around saying that.  Plus, I have zero desire to mother anyone other than my own children.   I digress.  Since I have to get things done with children around, things like edit photos with two hands, things like cook dinner occasionally, I am a mother who likes to wear her babies in slings. True, I need to get things done, but really I just like having my babies close.  Thus, enter from stage left, my favorite baby wearing company, Sakura Bloom and their Sling Diaries and their search for new diarists and their topic, A Day In My Life.

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One would think it was easy to whip something out since I have been, off and on, practicing some sort of evaluation of my daily life for the last, eh, eleven or so years.  But.  It wasn’t easy.  It was hard.  Being a mother is hard.  The life of a mother is glorious like everyone says and at the very same time it is not glorious like everyone says, rather it is tedious and mundane and unglorious to clean up after potty training regressions.  As I thought about the topic and as I thought about being a mother, this is what I came up with:

What is a day?  Is it just 24 hours? Is it the rising of the sun and the setting?  More specifically, what does a day look like in our family?  Does the progression of time through our family, or our family through time, ever look the same, despite my best efforts for order or routine?

Yes, some things are always the same–dishes in the sink, laundry piled by the washer, books strewn on the floor, train tracks in upheaval on the rug, little finger prints and remnants of food on the table, the constant reevaluation of the delicate balance between work and family, a bottle of sour milk lurking under the couch with the dust bunnies that is found by a guest looking for something they dropped.  What is that Kathleen Noris calls this?  The quotidian mysteries?  Yes.  That is it.  A day is the mysterious opportunity to find meaning, growth, joy in these repetitive tasks.

I will be the first to admit that most often I do not find nourishment, spiritual or creative, in the tedious tasks that accompany mothering, wifing, business running.  I fight against the mundane.  The quote, “I can stand almost anything except a succession of ordinary days,” resonates deeply with me.  Who wants to be ordinary?  Who wants ordinary days?  I sure don’t.  And yet.  And yet, is there not importance in discovering meaning in mundane, in holding onto the purpose of monotony, in culling activities out so that there is room to be still?  Is that not where character is tested and forged?  Is there not value in cultivating joy in the privacy of your own home, where no one but your husband and children bear witness, where no one pats you on the back?  It is definitely harder.  For sure.  Yet, there is deep satisfaction and contentment, albeit cursory.  There is new mercy every morning.

So, yes, there are slivers woven throughout the routine of my day where beauty glimmers.  It is the sheer delight and acceptance on my son’s face when I walk into the room and he sees me– gap tooth smile widening and green eyes crinkling.  It is the belly laughter of my daughter when my husband gets home and chases her through the house or the softness, the innocence of her face when she finally succumbs to much needed sleep.  It is the light dimly filtering through our bedroom curtains in the morning, Russell nestling in the crook of my arm, contentedly nursing and kneading my chest–his baby scent, his warmth, his fleeting littleness.  It is the excitement of a train track newly laid for Thomas and friends.  It is reading a book to Merrimac and then overhearing her reenacting the story with her stuffed animals.  It is the witching hour when Russell is camped out in the sling and Merrimac is standing on a chair helping me cook dinner, excited and proud of be part of the process.  It is loosing my cool and being quickly forgiven with a hug.  It is the forts made under the covers instead of making the bed.  It is those few minutes where my husband and I are sitting together, for a moment, in silence.  It is purposing to delight in little things, to see afresh– the shadows created as the sun moves through the house during the day, the satisfaction of books pulled out because little minds are exploring, the beauty of dishes piled in a sink because it is proof that we eat together, we enjoyed being present with one another, the fulfillment of a heaping pile of laundry because we got dirty exploring outside or traveling down a new road or playing with friends.

My heart, imperfectly, rejoices in the aspects of my daily life that are never changing, yet, hopefully, always changing as we grow together.

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(Is it bad that I am a photographer and this is the last photo we have of us together as an entire family (August 2014) that was not a family-selfie?)

  • March 11, 2015 - 2:44 pm

    Jessica Smith - Beautifully written. Your home exudes love, now I know whyReplyCancel

  • March 11, 2015 - 3:24 pm

    Jessie Partridge - Expressed so well the daily-ness of motherhood and the tension that comes with it. I’m thankful for your friendship. Creative moms, unite! :)ReplyCancel

  • March 11, 2015 - 4:42 pm

    Anne Cochet - Exquisitely written and lived out.ReplyCancel

  • March 11, 2015 - 4:43 pm

    Anne Cochet - love!.ReplyCancel

  • March 11, 2015 - 4:48 pm

    Jan McNutt - Honest and sweet! Love you!ReplyCancel

  • March 11, 2015 - 7:00 pm

    Dan Fortner - Thank you for sharing all of your thoughts.ReplyCancel

  • March 11, 2015 - 11:26 pm

    Stephanie Eagleson - You express so beautifully what I love most about motherhood and homemaking, down to the tiny, particular details. Thank you so much for sharing this perspective!ReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2015 - 1:21 am

    Sarah Palmer Skinner - Beautiful, Ashleigh.ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2015 - 6:54 pm

    Amelia Patterson - Love this post and it’s brutal honesty. What life is really all about. Love. Family. Being together through the ups and downs and things that are not always pretty and perfect. Couldn’t have said it better myself! PS I love the shot of the babies at the very beginning and no, it’s not bad that is your most recent family photo! Just another reason to take a new one! :))ReplyCancel