Read about her transformation from married to single, and the self awareness that ensued. The selection of photos here were selected by myself and Julia together to hang in her new home.
Jennifer Loomis, Seattle Artistic Black and White Family Photographer
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family and the recent transformation you have gone through.
As a single-mom, raising my two kids, (13 year old daughter and 10 years old son), and having a career as an executive in a technology company, my most common attribute is being BUSY. While it can be exhausting to be always-on, I’m not sure what I would do if I wasn’t.
After many years of thinking life’s pace might change, I settled into the acceptance that I create this pace and its part of who I am.
A little over 3 years ago, my husband of 13 years and I decided to amicably divorce. While I feel incredibly fortunate that it was such a peaceful separation, the transition to being independent and self-sufficient at 40 was a major life change. Managing my home, dealing with repairs, making major purchase decisions all become my individual responsibility – in addition my existing role as financial provider and primary care-taker. I stayed in our existing family home for several years following our divorce, both to provide the kids consistency and my own lack of confidence in being able to manage a home that I hadn’t learned the ropes from my husband.
After a couple years, I knew I needed to create my own space, so I bought a new house – one that reflected who I am as an individual, and a decision I made all by myself. I picked a dreamy home that I love, but it has pushed me on every front – learning how everything works, endless repairs & remodeling needed, all new furniture…conquering my fears of managing a new home, and making my own.
In looking back, I know this new house was really just a symbol of what the past several years have been for me. Finding out who I am as an individual vs a couple, revisiting and defining my individual values, determining my own parenting approach, and ultimately deciding my own way forward with confidence in my abilities.
What is your secret to happiness?
I find happiness through self-acceptance. It’s incredibly easy to wish for others’ skills, gifts, lifestyles, but it never brings joy. I know that I am far from perfect, and I know I will likely make as many lame decisions as great ones through the course of my life. But, ultimately, I am giving this life the best I have, and that’s as much as I, or anyone, can ask for. I also find that by accepting who I am, I am able to show up fully for my kids, family, friends, and coworkers. I try to never waste energy wanting for something else or feeling guilty for what I don’t have, vs living in the moment and helping those around me do the same.
Tell me about why you decided to have professional artistic black and white family photos taken for this transformation, and why you trusted me to take these special photos.
I’ve never been one to celebrate or commemorate an accomplishment versus just continue moving forward to the next thing. As a younger woman, I think this felt self-congratulatory, so would avoid pausing to reflect and take stock of accomplishments.
As a maturing woman, I now appreciate how valuable this reflection can be, and how fleeting milestones are if you don’t stop to let them set. As I journeyed through this recent personal transformation and conquered my fears, I wanted to take stock of this moment vs just keep moving forward. These photos are something I can always have to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and the growth through this time.
I trusted Jennifer with this moment, because of her feminist approach and incredible gift to celebrate and honor women through photography. Jennifer also provided me encouragement and support during our interactions in previous family photos. While our interactions weren’t in-depth and could appear seemingly shallow, her positivity and ability to relate as a passionate, driven, working mom had outsized impact on me.
Please feel free to include anything else you like that is interesting about you or your parenting philosophy, your life philosophy.
As a working mom, you miss many day-to-day events with your kids. With this comes guilt and self-depreciation to make up for it. I also had a stay at home mom my entire childhood, so in addition to societal pressure to be a more involved mom, I had no model of what a working mom should look like. I carried so much guilt during my first few years of being a working mom. Outside of work, I would never do things for myself – ever – because it felt selfish versus spending every spare minute I had with my kids.
I believed that despite being the financial provider for our family, I also should provide everything my stay-at-home mother had provided me. I was attempting to play the role of both my father and my mother from my childhood. There was one evening when my mom was visiting about 8 years ago that broke this cycle for me. My kids were both young (and exhausting), and after coming home from a long day at work and ordering take-out for dinner, my mom turned to me and said, “I’m sure your husband would appreciate a home cooked meal every once and a while.” She was judging me with the lens of what she had provided for my father as part of a very different relationship and lifestyle than I had chosen.
In that moment, I felt both understanding of why she would judge me this way, and total disappointment and anger at being told I should serve my husband, in the way my mother had done for my father. My mom’s comment was both upsetting from my feminist point of view, but equally frustrating when I was my family’s breadwinner…why wasn’t my husband expected to cook for me? This comment ate at me for days and while I was mad at my mom for saying this, it made me realize that what my mom had said out loud, was the self-expectations I also quietly carried inside.
This brief comment by my mom ultimately served as the catalyst to recognize that I needed to break from the parenting model I had been raised with, and reset my own self-expectations. Thanks to this, I give myself a lot more grace than before. I realize and accept that my parenting looks very different than what I grew up with, and that’s OK. There isn’t only one good or right model. While being a working mom is very different than being a stay-at-home mom, I can still ensure that my kids know they are loved, all of their needs are met, and they know that I’m always there for them even if I’m traveling across the world for my job. And, I hope that my choices serve
as an example for my kids that women can be professionally successful and still a devoted mom.
Notes from Jennifer Loomis
I am always trying to push myself creatively which is why I started the Metamorphosis series for women who are going through a transformation and want a special photo to help articulate where they have come from and where they are going. Julia was one of these women. I captured this amazing photo for her, and then a month or so later we did her new family photo. I included final images from both sessions along with her insightful and thoughtful words.
To see more of my clients and see more of my most recent work, please visit the Mother of the Month archives.
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