Elise's Thoughtful Motherhood Interview and Photos with Her Boys | Seattle Family Photographer
Elise on Motherhood and Photos of Her and Her Gorgeous Boys | Seattle Studio Photography
Elise was my muse I awkwardly asked to model for me when I started my business, she grew into a client, and really turned into a close friend. She is on the front line of who I call when I start to doubt all of my abilities as a mother. One of the first friends I made outside of my PEPS group, I freakin love her. On top of everything she has a mix of chic and boho style that I adore. Her answers to the motherhood questions are so thoughtful. When she emailed them to me I wrote her back telling her they made me want to slow down and reexamine a few things. On the other hand, she is non-judgemental, patient and kind. Her two sons are so cute, and Rufus and Zeke have become sweet friends. Thank you, Elise, for doing this.
Where did you grow up and how would you describe your upbringing?
I was born in Kansas and moved six times around the Midwest of US and Canada before I entered second grade because of my dad’s job. The day before second grade started, we moved to a suburb of Minneapolis where I lived until I graduated from high school. My mom gave everything for me, my brother and my dad. The moves were hard for her, but she kept things very stable and secure for us. She is the so nurturing and became my best friend. My favorite memories of growing up are sitting at the kitchen counter while she was cooking and talking to her about what was going on in my life and in my mind. She just listened. She never judged. If anything, she asked me questions for me to think about. She shared her doubts, fears, and mistakes and was always so real to me. This is how she guided me. And knowing that I would tell her everything made me make sure I would feel good about telling her what I did.
Tell us about your family and where you live now, and how you spend your days. How old are your two boys and what are they into these days? How is their sibling relationship at this time?
My husband has an amazing skill of dreaming and then making that dream come alive in this physical realm. He has an addiction to deals but creates amazing spaces, stores, and projects that bring people together and delight. We have two boys, Antonio who is six and Ezekiel who is two. Antonio is imaginative, cautious, and in touch with his feelings. He loves karate, to dance and bike, Power Rangers and legos. He refuels through rest. Zeke is energetic, greets everyone he sees, is always trying to find something to jump off of or balance on. He loves to scooter and is obsessed with skateboards and his brother. He refuels through movement.
Zeke wants to do whatever Antonio is doing at all times. It is so neat to see how much he loves his older brother. They really enjoy playing together but of course are always want to be playing with the same toy at the same time.
I spend the majority of my days with my boys-getting Antonio to and from school, playing with Zeke at the park, library, or playroom, cooking, cleaning, keeping stability. I teach a class for a kids’ program at a Bible study I go to, and I volunteer once a week at a local middle school. I also treasure and carve out time for myself in the early mornings and during naps time to exercise, read, write and study.
I remember you telling me about how you prepared for childbirth and how incredible it was- can you tell us more about the technique and how it worked/felt?
Before having my second son, I took a class called Mindfulness in Labor and Parenting. I took it the day I got back from Denver after being with my mom in the ICU for three weeks after a life-threatening snowmobile accident, so I was in an altered state, but I felt like this class cracked the code of labor for me.
The first portion of the class was about mindfulness and being present in the moment. We practiced many meditations in the class and practiced being mindful in everyday tasks at home. Then she transferred it to childbirth. The teacher told us that when most people are in labor, they struggle to stay in the moment. Between contractions, your body is flooded with incredible, feel-good hormones like nothing you experience naturally at any other time in your life, but most people do not notice because they are dwelling in the past or the future. Either they are thinking about the last contraction, thinking “that was so painful there’s no way I can keep doing this.” Or they are in the future, “I don’t know how long I can keep doing this. How much worse is it going to get? I can’t do it.” She told us to find a technique that works for us to cope with the contractions and then relax and enjoy the time in between the contractions. No pain remains. Allow yourself to feel the flood of hormones.
While I was in labor, I used this method. During contractions, I grunted like some crazy animal and between them, I rested completely. I entered into a truly altered state. I was in a different dimension. I wouldn’t even quite describe it as being in pain.
What surprised me was after I had delivered him, and I had to deliver the placenta, I had totally lost my zone and that hurt more than having the baby. This was so unexpected after having my first son with an epidural and not feeling anything as I delivered the placenta.
It was truly the most incredible thing I have ever experienced though. I recommend that class to all of my friends who are pregnant.
Did you always want to be a mother?
Yes, I always wanted to be a mother. I pretended to be in labor and had my dad deliver babies from under my dresses from the time I was four or five. As a kid, I had my room set up as a house and would get all my “babies” ready for school before coming downstairs for breakfast. When we would go to the mall, I would push my doll in a stroller, and I couldn’t understand why my grandma couldn’t just sit in the trunk of the car when she was visiting and there weren’t enough seats. My baby clearly needed her carseat to be buckled in. It was always in my blood.
Did becoming a mother change the way you see yourself?
Becoming a mother has helped me to love and respect my body in such a new way. I feel so strong after growing two babies inside of my body, getting them out, and being able to carry my kids and all the stuff that goes with them around all the time.
I also feel an immense responsibility as a mother to be a role model for them. I learn so much from them because they are constant mirrors for me. I feel like they have made me so much more in tune. When they are struggling or misbehaving, I always start by flipping it back to myself, what in me are they reflecting right now?
What excites you the most about being a mother?
Being able to influence the next generation.
What keeps you up at night?
I let all my worries flush through in my dreams.
Do have any specific fears or hopes with raising sons?
My hope for my boys is that exude love-that they look into people’s eyes, that they listen to people, that they respect everyone, and that they use their lives to make others’ lives better.
How would you describe your parenting style?
Unconditional love-the most import thing to me is that my kids know that I love them for the people that they are.
And because I have such deep love for them, I have created boundaries so that they feel safe and know what to expect and what is kind.