Can’t be all about the Kids

So I love photography which I admit, allows me to cheat on my title because I love to photograph my kids. I am growing and focusing on my passions so I can be happy and so I can have a life worth living after the kids turn into semi-adults.

My divorce-anniversary was this past week and if I am calculating correctly. I got separated in 2016 and divorced in 2017. I have done well in becoming my own person. I write. I have this blog. I take photography courses. I am becoming a birth photographer. I changed jobs and went from teacher of kids with IEPs to school librarian. And if I am honest despite all my growth, I often have a trauma response to small and large life events. (to be addressed one day soon). I live in a body and mind that is afraid of a child dying and afraid of being worthless to the ones I love. Yet, I cope really well. Do we ever know if we are doing our best and healing and becoming our best self or if we are bat shit nutty and failing left and right? Will I always be on that see saw?

This is her Saturday morning feels. Letting that sunshine in. I collect colorful afghans from thrift stores. Mim lived in these fuzzy sleepers that zip up the front during the pandemic. She had three and just rotated them- not just nightware anymore.
One of my favorite pictures. She was helping me with photography class homework. She models like it is her job. Look at her beauty. The assignment was silhouettes but I got obsessed with reflections and went on a tangent. I covet good cloud days and this just does it for me. She is in my dad’s truck. Dolly absconded with this truck after her Uncle was letting it die a junkyard death. My kids love my daddy, their Aubee. Having his truck in my parking spot outside my condo is such a gift. Thanks, Dolly and Ficken for reviving the Chevy 250. And thanks, Mim for having lips with the pink centers and being an eager muse.
How lucky am I? When I want to go somewhere, Addy shows up and drives when I am lost and she reserves hotels when google overwhelms.When Mim says, hike, we go. When Mim says candy, Addy finds a QT. When Mim wants Starbucks to drink one sip of her grande and then abandons her mocha mocha mumbo jumbo, Addy skips her shower and drives her to the drive thru. When Mim claims she wants to swim and the pool water isn’t too cold, Addy suits up and carries mermaid fins and crappy goggles to watch Mim. We take the stairs -Mim doesn’t do elevators. We find an unused exit and another locked door to a cement unairconditioned staircase to wander a mile of corridors to a pool. Mim cries the water is too cold. We find her sun on hot concrete and Addy covers her with a dry beach towel that looks like a 1oo dollar bill. That pink water bottle in the photo is Mim’s homage to BeBe – apparently Mim wants to copy and have the same kind as Beez. We will always stop at every swing or every piece of furniture or equipment that twirls- Gives us all the break we need. We waited for our turn on this swing. A boy about Mim’s size ran over and jumped on it right after Mim. His mom tried to redirect him and he said “I can’t. I’m so excited.” I pulled Mim aside and said I think he has the same disability as Nicholas (autism) and Mim went over to the mom and said “He can have the swing. I have a disability, too. I understand.” And instead of being alone in my motherly pride, I have Addy to hug.
I love borrowing other people’s children to photograph- especially Mr. Expressive.
And there was the day no one was home and the Butterflies came to the spot at the base of the telephone pole where the dogs pee. Look how lucky I am.
Fluttering show offs.
The day of the mulberries. Katie and Mim using step stools on mole tunneled ground. Wading to get the ripe ones. Black is the sweetest. Our creek is more of a drainage rain spillover lovely ditch of nature. The sign says do not swim or wade in water but we think it is more of a formality. I am amazed by Mim’s body- strong shoulders and then the sharp indentation of her waist. Her leg for miles and that bubble bum. This girl who would never walk or talk. She will outshine every expectation. Won’t she? I love a moody portrait with darks and brights and greenest greens.
Did Dolly want to be photographed? Probably not but she is a giver and she knows my love language. We went to Charleston to look at the College and ended up there on graduation day. Busy sidewalks. Closed areas of the campus. Overflowing restaurants. We arrived with out a plan which is fine with me but my girl was undone. And she overcame it all and we decided what a perfect weekend to see a campus- we saw the whole gamut of the student body and their families. We love Charleston. Dolly imagined she could follow her expected plan of college life— have a few good friends like she has at high school and then spend a lot of time doing her own thing- reading her books and walking her walks and exploring her new city. She has made her own spread sheet collecting data on prospective schools. If one measured success by college attendance and graduation in 4 years from a 4 year college, the Rodi kids have not fared well. Dolly takes this in stride and if she is daunted, it rarely shows. My fiery little lover sees the experiences of her parents and siblings and lives her own life. She plans no marriage, no kids, and maybe she is a vet or a bookstore/ice cream shop owner. She will have horses and wildflowers and a large Victorian. Her turret will be her personal library.
Freckles, gray green eyes, mermaid hair and her tote of organizational tools on her shoulder. She let me see in her soul when she smiled for my camera. We are all lucky – Dolly doesn’t let us in that often.

More to come- I just wanted you to know where my head has been- making images. Solidifying memories.

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