back to work after a baby

Mary Dougherty

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ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories

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I think I’ve been giving the wrong impression.

Not intentionally, but through the channels of social media I’ve shown the best most exciting parts of my life and left you out on the rest. Now, I don’t think you need to know the details of my yoga-pants wearing, milk covered day to day… but if I never mention it, it’s as though it doesn’t exist.

Last weekend we drove to DC for an engagement session. When I say we I literally mean me, my husband, my two year old and my two month old. He is still so little that being apart for any extended period of time just won’t work. Plus, we had the chance to visit some family so staying with them and having them meet the baby was perfect. On the way down I instagrammed a picture from a past Georgetown engagement session, of a tiny little car and the caption was something about our trip and taking pictures in warmer weather. My friend Alexandra (who I’m calling a friend even though we have yet to meet face to face – it’s happening soon) wanted to know how I was apparently killing both the mom and photographer game and if I could share some of whatever I was taking. I mentioned Matt, and how he was basically keeping me sane and that dreams of coffee did the rest.

Then yesterday happened.

Well, actually Monday happened before that and all the other days and you get the point – I answered her as if I was suspended in that euphoria of driving away to somewhere warmer with kids that were actually content in the car. I didn’t mention the fact that I actually find it incredibly challenging to “balance” work and home and actually accomplish something each day. In a lot of ways it’s easier to go somewhere and deal with the effects of being out of the day to day than it is to be at home and work.

I went to bed at 9:30 last night and got up at 5:30. I actually feel amazing even though I got up a few times with Dax last night.

What I didn’t do was write all of the blog posts I have been thinking about publishing, or edit a few hundred photos or even answer the emails that have been waiting for more than 4 days in my inbox. I know. I feel like such a failure… and yet that seems silly when I write it out. The truth is, I’m still figuring out how to live life with two kids and run a business. I don’t like to admit that because I think a part of me thinks you won’t want to work with me if that’s true… and because I set such high standards for myself it’s not easy to say out loud. I need grace at this point.

Our drive home from Virginia was epic. Since it was finally hot enough to need air conditioning we found out ours was no longer working. So, windows down, we drove the 6.5 hour trip without stops in just over 10 hours.

When you work for yourself maternity leave is what you make it. I didn’t set a firm start and finish date this time in part because I had a wedding to focus on 5 weeks after Dax was born. That was a hard decision to make but I still believe it was the right one. Jumping almost immediately back into a wedding shifted the paradigm of what my time after a baby would look like, and likely has led you to believe I am in fact crazy. I am still easing my way back into work and at this point plan on spending less time at my computer and more time with my two month old. It’s a gradual process and thanks for seeing me through the highs and lows.

that picture above? it’s smoke and mirrors that was not intentionally set up but I can walk you through how to take your own. #1 : hold your baby so that he/she covers up whatever baby bump is left. #2: face a window and have the camera perpendicular to you #3: elongating your body by shift your weight to your right leg (if you are set up like me) so your hips are even farther away from the camera. #4 : take a picture from a slightly higher angle #5 : crop your arm so that we think it’s smaller than it is. done!

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