I don't know what it's like to be a single mother, and I won't even pretend to. But, all I have ever heard is how hard and brutal and challenging it is. And I have zero doubt it is, in fact, all of those things times a hundred thousand.
However. Last night at the river showed me another side to single motherhood that broke my heart completely open. The bond between these three humans is like nothing I have ever, EVER, seen before in my life. The three of them are like three parts of one whole, in a way that is gentle and supportive and hilarious and loving and affectionate and loyal.
Throughout the session, while I was watching these three move through the currents together, I felt pangs of deep admiration for the bond that only single mother families really know about. Sure there is the struggle, but my goodness, there is also a force there that nothing can touch.
Every single move made declared, with grace and without words, "We've made it through really hard things, we survived, and we did it together. Nothing will ever take that away. Nothing."
Over and over, it was all I heard reverberating in my heart.
I didn't know about this side of raising children alone before, and my goodness am I one of the lucky ones for getting to feel the incredible and powerful warmth of it all, even if just for one afternoon by the river.
I kid you not, as we were walking up the dark forrest trail back to our cars, right before us were three deer: One mama, one younger female, and one younger male, just growing his antlers. One by one they leapt across the trail, and we could feel the rumble of power under our feet. (I obviously cried on the way home!)
You guys, I am not kidding. These River Stories are no joke. Sure, they are portrait sessions and sure the images are important, (and sure people copy the look of them) but after all of these magical and profound occurrences that happen time after time after time with me and these waters, I am fully aware that there is so much more going on than even I fully comprehend.
I just have to keep listening. Keep showing up. Keep unzipping my heart and letting it all out.
No matter what.
Last night I showed up wearing leggings with black and white designs only to realize, after getting in the water, that HELLO! the white parts are completely see-through. Also, I slipped on ten rocks and swore eleven times. And someone dropped a cell phone. But then the deer. And we felt them moving in our own bones when they jumped. And then to hold these images as proof of what really happens when you walk through fire and come out strong as steel.
It's not perfect, life never is, but it is so damn gorgeous.
And my reverence is unending.