Because you will only be two years old once. Because you will only once be just on the cusp of six months old. And because I think that this is the happiest that I have ever been, surrounded by the chaos of you, as though all my life I had been waiting for toys to explode from the kallax and strew themselves across my floors, my cupboards to fill with biscuits because you love them so, my peace and quiet, my autonomy, to be scrunched up in little baby fists and gummed on to a pulp.
Because I never knew that such joy could be found in seeing two small faces squashed up against a window, in seeing a baby crawl toward me and attach herself, limpet-like, to my legs. I never knew that in being your mother I would be able to look around myself at the end of a long day and know, with certainty, that everything I did had a purpose and that purpose is you.
And because I want to capture everything: that tatty reindeer that Lysander insists on carrying around with him, the way that we can’t keep Balthazar off of the kitchen counters. How you each have a favourite mummy (and every time I’ve been surprised by who naturally gravitates to whom), how even the biggest of you manages to tuck up so small in my arms. Because mingled with the joy is the terror that each time could be the last time – because you are changing constantly, because the dog is getting older, because we are all mortal.
Because I want to be in the picture. Because I want to know what my life looks like from the outside; because I want you to know, one day, what your childhood looked like. Because I can’t quite believe that she happened to me, that you happened to us.
Because part of me is afraid that I will never be this happy again, or this fierce again, or this tired again.
This is our day, immortalised. This is what our lives were like when you were two years old, and when you were on the cusp of six months.
Antonina Mamzenko and I had been acquaintances for a little while through a facebook group for documentary-style family photographers, when she reached out to offer me a Day in the Life photoshoot in exchange for a review of the experience and some social media shares. As this kind of thing is right up my street, so to speak, and I was already a fan of her vibrant and honest photography style I couldn’t say yes quickly enough and begged a day out of the office in order to make it happen.
There is only one rule with this kind of photography: it has to be real. That means no waiting for golden hour, so posing for the camera and absolutely no ‘say cheese’. All that you need to do is go about your ordinary ugly-beautiful day and let the magic happen. Antonina documented our day for eleven hours – from the moment that the barking of the dog woke us up (she was knocking on the door outside) to our putting the toddlers to bed she was there, sometimes laughing and joking with us, sometimes in the middle of the scene, and sometimes so quiet that we forgot that she was there at all. With our crazy family dynamic we needed a photographer who would be able to blend in to the background when necessary, who wouldn’t mind suddenly-naked toddlers and copious baby spit-up, who would just laugh when I needed to pause to answer some work emails or the toddlers descended into their typical pre-bedtime tears.
By the time that we waved her off at the end of the day, she felt like an old friend. And after two weeks of anxiously stalking my inbox, she delivered a breathtaking collection of more than one hundred images faithfully documenting our day.
This is the gift that I would give my best friend. I definitely plan to have my family and our lives together documented in this style again; I think it would be really interesting to have the same photographer back every couple of years in order to create a collection of photobooks capturing forever our lives as we change and grow.