A few weeks after my own son was born, Courtney handed me an envelope with the words “open this on a day you need it” written on the outside. I looked at that sealed card nearly every day that first month but even on the worst days, I’d tell myself, “It’s there and I don’t need it.. yet. I can get through today.” And as the weeks slipped by, I started to believe this more and more. I felt myself evolving and changing into someone who could laugh when nothing went according to plan, someone who packed extra diapers, extra outfits, extra everything, someone could go through the day with a giant pee stain down the front of her dress actually completely unbothered, someone who discovered a previously unheard-of joy, playing the supporting role in another’s life story. I started trusting myself more and depending less on that little card on my counter, and after a while, I forgot it was there. Right before the new year, while I was in the throes of a feverish deep clean, I came across that card again and opened it without thinking twice.
You can imagine how the inside of that card went: just pretend someone who loves you immensely has written you a letter telling you so. What really made me cry that day wasn’t just Courtney’s words, but the fact that she herself was several steps ahead in her own motherhood journey, yet had the grace and empathy to look back at the place I was in and care for me. Something often repeated in parenthood is how quickly you move through the different milestones, and how soon old memories of the past stages melt away. So many times, I would tell another parent about the day’s brutal chaos, and they would laugh and say, “Well, just you wait..”, and we would laugh together but it also hurt a little, because they were there and I was here and it wasn’t the same. Courtney is not this way. Courtney’s ability to hold onto this nuanced human understanding and meet everybody she meets exactly where they are, how they are – that is Courtney, always.
I’m really grateful to have gotten the chance to photograph this little family as part of my spring portrait series. Happy early Mother’s Day, Courtney. Motherhood looks real good on you.