Caitlin's Motherhood Story : Addiction, Light, and Showing Up
a completely Raw and inspiring interview on motherhood + studio session Photos | Seattle family photographer
This week I was thinking about all of the beautiful mothers I photograph. They teach me so much. From weird parenting wins to feeling seen in this modern day motherhood thing, which can be isolating and scary at times. I have decided that my new goal is to share more of these stories. I want to learn more from these mamas. One of the biggest things that I think we lack these days is community. Yes, there is the internet and books, but knowledge and fb groups are not the same as the tight knit communities we used to raise children in, filled with many generations and support. We are all forging our own paths these days- as moms with daycare and school, without help, with businesses and jobs, without jobs. Every. Single. Story. is so unique and important. Thank you to Caitlin, who is so open and lovely and also patient with me while I figured out how to present her story! Caitlin is working towards a degree in mental health counseling to focus on addiction and eating disorder awareness while also raising Daniel far from her family. Here is a little more about this incredible woman:
I know that you have overcome so much. Could you share a little mini bio with me?
I started struggling with an eating disorder when I was 13 years old. My addictions started when I began college at FSU. I just didn’t know how to control my drinking and it just spiraled out of control in my early 20s. I felt a lot of pressure to have my life figured out right away and I couldn’t handle the fact that I didn’t feel in control of my life. When I got sober I got a lot of help from an amazing woman, who is my friend to this day, to help me learn how to have a healthy relationship with food. I drank because I couldn’t handle my feelings and I couldn’t handle the pressure I created around trying to be perfect. I would restrict eating all day and then binge drink and eat at night. It was a hard cycle.
How has having Daniel changed the way you see yourself?
Daniel has helped me so much with the way I view myself. The fact that my body was able to make such a gorgeous boy still blows my mind! I remind myself that I have to show him how important it is to accept ourselves and love ourselves first before we can love others.
I have so many moms postpone or completely avoid having their photo taken because they don’t feel beautiful. That is putting it mildly- so many of them hate their bodies, their chins, their arms. I know this is my job, so this question might seem gimmicky, but I genuinely feel like it is such a loss to not have your family documented with YOU IN IT. What would you tell those women?
I would let those women know that they are worthy of love. They are beautiful and they have overcome each hard day. It is easy to focus our attention on the negative aspects of ourselves. I would challenge them to shift their focus to all the good that has come from those negative things. (Example-“I hate my stomach” shift- my tummy made my baby) I would challenge them to allow themselves to not feel guilty for taking part in self-care. Instead to shift their thinking- “I am going to take care of myself so I can take better care of my family”.
Caitlin is working towards a degree in mental health counseling to focus on addiction and eating disorder awareness while also taking care of Daniel full time! Something I can literally not wrap my head around. Here is what she had to say about parenting on her own while in school:
I do not have help with Daniel. He recently stopped napping which has been a challenge. I try and develop a routine and I have found certain activities I love to do with Daniel. I try and make a point to incorporate those into our day. Simple things- walking the dog, taking a bath together, turning on our favorite song and having a dance party.
You seem so fully present with Daniel while balancing so much. How are you able to keep yourself in the moment and do you have any tips for all of us struggling with juggling so much at one time:
Sometimes when one day at a time feels like too much, take it one hour at a time, then if that’s too much- one minute at a time!
I would also suggest making small goals so you can celebrate 🎉 little victories and to try and make everyday a party- even if it’s something little like extra bath bubbles or sprinkles on morning 🥞!
If all else fails have a snuggle party!
What does Daniel like to do while you need to be on the computer?
He uses my back as a car ramp 🤣I have to wake up early a lot and stay up late- it’s hard to accomplish things effectively with a car running down your back haha but I “show up” for my teacher! Sometimes just showing up will help us get through the day and help bring us out of our feelings
What message would you want to share with new moms?
I would want to let them know they are so strong- to be gentle with themselves. They just brought a gorgeous new life into the world and they have made it through each challenge. And then I would suggest the mantra “I am lovable and capable”. This mantra has helped me overcome a lot!
Any parting thoughts on motherhood?
I would just challenge women to feel more confident in taking care of themselves with Grace the way they care for their families. To give themselves grace. To accept themselves exactly as they are and recognize they have always been and will always be enough. Also recognizing what we need in each moment, stepping back and giving ourselves an opportunity and permission to have all of our feelings recognized as important. Taking action in our life to manifest what we ultimately want. ⛄️🐇🐰
Thank you, Caitlin, for opening up your heart to me and the world. You are a gift! I included your parting emojis because, yes, snowman, bunny, bunny. It needed to be said. :)