My 7 year old got into the truck after school one day and told me that his friend was trying to schedule a session with me and that he didn't have my website address. I giggled but had the conversation. My son figured that we could schedule the session and that he and his school friend could have a playdate immediately after and we could just make a day of it. I am not sure if his 7 year old friend really wants to schedule a session or if he parents want to but I'll see them this week for a function and I'm sure I'll find out.
During that conversation, I had an "aha" moment.
When I first started my business, I had trouble saying the words, "I'm a photographer." It was no different from when I stopped working outside of the house and I became a stay at home mom.
Filling out paperwork where it asked for occupation or answering people when they asked was hard for me to answer. I would hesitate because I didn't know what to say or write down. I felt small saying the words. Although I knew in my head that raising my child was more than important, I felt like I was being judged - even if I wasn't. I felt like people looked at me and thought I must be lazy since I stay home.
5 years later once the second kid came along, I began filling out forms and answering the question with, "I'm a Mom." and in my head I dared anyone to say something about it. In my head, I was ready to give anyone a verbal tongue lashing like they've never had if they even so much as blinked when I said it. It's safe to say I was a little defensive about it.
Another 5 years and our third child, I was good. Being a Mom was a badge of honor. I could say that I was a Mom with a Capitol "M." I would say it loud and proud with my imaginary M.O.M tiara on my head, a billowing red cape, a bottle of expressed milk in my hand as my scepter and fireworks exploding in the background. I was finally comfortable in my skin. Being a Mom is WORK! And if the person I was talking to didn't know it, feel it and understand it...well, that was just on them. A Mom is important, the person I was talking to wouldn't be here without one.
I went through the same thing once I started my business. Everyone has a camera. There are a ton of photographers out there. Once again, I felt small. I felt like I wasn't good enough to call myself a "real" photographer. I would always say it with an embarrassed smile. I felt like when people asked and I answered they would think, "oh, it's another one of "them." But I've come to realize that I AM a photographer & a business. I put in my hours, I work my rear off, Uncle Sam knows my name, and people pay me. If that doesn't make it pretty legit, I don't know what does.
At some point over the last year, things have clicked. I am just as confident letting people know I am a photographer as I am a stay at home mom and really, I do believe I am both. And sometimes, I don't need to be asked. I will freely and happily shout it from the rooftops. And if you open the door, I will talk your ear off about it.
But the part that I absolutely love...my kids validate what I do. If nobody else in the world utters my business name - my kids do. They are not and have not ever been afraid to tell their friends what their Mom does. They do not and have not ever looked at me and thought I was less than anything I've ever said I was. I wish I had believed in myself the way they do and have always done. I wish I had realized this 15 years ago, 10 years ago, last year. I am grateful to them for showing me that I am not small, I am not another one of "them", I am not just a mom.
When you see me write, type or hear me say, "My name is Tonia and I am a Mom and a photographer" know that I do it wearing my imaginary M.O.M tiara, camera in hand as my scepter, fireworks exploding in the background...and pride. Lots of pride.