In late November of 2012, I followed my then-two-year-old around with my camera from the moment he woke up to the moment he went to sleep. I documented the mischievous expressions, the sweet moments with our dogs, and the several tear-filled tantrums that are typical for little ones his age — and the resulting images are ones that I will treasure forever. I look back on them now, even just a couple of years later, and I am transported back to the time when my big guy was my little guy. A time when his personality was still developing. A time when we were a family of three.
I decided I would continue the tradition each year, on the same date. Well, in late November of 2013, I was massively pregnant with little dude number two. Mobility and focus were not on my list of strengths, and my lack of energy tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Whoa, ambitious lady, this doesn’t need to be done every year.” And I said, “Good point, lack of energy! Let’s go back to laying on the couch watching Netflix and googling ways to induce labor!” So, I’ll make this a by-yearly tradition. I think that’s good enough. And if motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that I’m totally fine and completely satisfied with “good enough” as a standard to shoot for.
My original project, 24 Hours of Nathan, became not only a treasured keepsake of images, but also a commentary on the crucial roles of the photographer, subject, and observer in the creation and immortality of the image. But this year’s attempt at documenting the boys left me fairly disappointed, to be perfectly honest. Before every session, every wedding, and every personal photo project, I envision my set of images. I imagine them weeks and days and seconds before they are taken, and what I had envisioned for this particular project is far grander than the outcome. There are literally six images in this set that I really like. By my standards, that’s a project that doesn’t belong on my blog. I realized by the 10th or 12th click of the shutter early in the morning that this project was going to be damn near impossible to complete. Having an 11-month old (who is fascinated with anything he shouldn’t touch) turned this project on its side immediately. When your subject wants to rub his grimy fingers on your lens, and turn the click wheel on the back, and pull the shoulder strap, and scream when you won’t let him do all of those things at once, my precious little baby became an incredibly challenging subject. Those precious and awe-inspiring images that I envisioned creating were thrown out the window.
But in documenting what I could, this round of my by-yearly project displays many of the challenges of having multiple children. Holy geez, it’s a lot harder than having one! Having to divide my attention between two beings that want my full attention is a challenge. Having to care for two little humans with incredibly different needs, with two incredibly different schedules is not easy. I also feel that this day’s documentation is in some ways incomplete, as I miss out on parts of their lives each day as my husband and I divide responsibilities. I chose to document Nathan’s bedtime routine because it was my turn to put him to bed, so I missed documenting Sam being rocked to sleep in the arms of his daddy. Every time I chose to focus on Sam, I missed documenting Nathan. That’s what it’s like having two… juggling. Constantly juggling. While standing on a ball, taming lions, and wearing a blindfold. While someone pulls your hair and rubs snot on your sleeve. That’s what it’s like having two. It’s certainly a joyful circus, and one that I am blessed to be a part of, but it’s a circus nonetheless.
I think this project will evolve with each iteration. I think in 2016, I’ll face new challenges I’m yet to understand with an almost-three-year-old and a first grader. I wonder what that day will be like. I wonder how accurate my visions for it will actually be.
So, friends, here it is. 24 Hours of Brothers (or, as I think I’ll affectionately subtitle it, Dia de los Duders):