2009 - present
I thought I had life figured out when I was in my 20s. I would base myself in New York, travel the globe and report on the ills of the world using my camera. For a short time, I was doing exactly that — what I thought I was meant to do — until I got sick.
I retreated for a few years under a cloud of depression, and when I came back into a life I once knew, I found that I was a completely different person. However, I still I continued to ask myself the same question that I had since the very beginning of my career: What is it that connects us? What are the ties that bind a single mother in Texas to a soldier in Afghanistan? How do I tell stories of people who seemingly have nothing in common, with readers who live very different realities.
After my illness, I wasn’t sure if my voice was loud enough, eloquent enough or even important enough to be part of that conversation. I wandered for quite some time, not understanding what moved me anymore or at the very least, how to be a contributing member of society. Then I got pregnant and I thought that with this new identity, I would find myself. But parenthood wasn’t my immediate answer. The isolation fed my loneliness. The expected hiccups that came with being a first time parent magnified my insecurities. So I did what came naturally to me. I picked up a camera.
Photography was a cathartic exercise when I was in the throes of depression and this time around, I endeavored to chronicle the banalities of my day to day, hoping I would somehow get a glimpse of the profound. I started to document once again, instantaneously sharing my stories on social media. Surprisingly, I found that all I really needed was to be mindful and present when around my boy. This time, it wasn’t my photography that gave context to my experiences, it was my child.
In the past six years I’ve given birth to two amazing boys and @bonetiredmama (a blog and an Instagram account devoted to my experiences with Mateo and Kaleb). Sharing these stories allowed me to step back and understand that I didn’t need to be the loudest or the most eloquent to contribute. I just needed to be observant and receptive. By learning to truly listen to my children while documenting life as a mother and as a working woman, I began to slowly find kinship with the visitors of my feed. The stories resonated even with those who were unable to or chose not to have children. Some spoke of the pressures and expectations of being a woman, or of the guilt that came with wanting something else other than a life with children. A few people thanked me for not celebrating or disparaging one decision over the other.
In all of these interactions, I found that the fabric which makes up our stories — as sons, daughters, mothers, fathers — is exquisitely layered. I’m beginning to understand that the answer to the question of what binds us, is as simple as it is complex, and as profound as it is superficial. Connections are made when we recognize that all our narratives are valid and that we’re more alike than different.