Arizona Photographer | Family Portraits and Mom Life

February 1, 2018
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Arizona Family Photographer | Rambling Mom Thoughts

Why is it so hard to make mom friends?  Seriously.  Like, look at these photos of this mom and her adorable family and tell me you don’t immediately want to be her friend?  Trust me.  You do.  She is as warm and lovely and fun as she looks in these pictures.  Actually, she’s even more of those things than she looks in these pictures, because sometimes she doesn’t have her kids with her and she can be EXTRA FUN.

Is it just me that wants to meet people, connect, exchange numbers, drink a glass of wine together while we ignore our children, and then go shopping for Best Friends heart necklaces and maybe even someday plan a girls’ trip to Mexico together?  Yes?  No?  Too much?  Am I coming off as desperate?  My husband likes to say that desperation is a strong and stinky cologne.  And I don’t want to be stinky.  I mean, my whole house smells like poop but that’s because my family consists of 3 boys and a gassy dog and the baby is still in diapers and DIAPER GENIES ARE WORTHLESS PILES OF PLASTIC LIES.

But really.  This is such a crazy phase of life – actually, I should stop saying that because I hate that BS.  It’s ALL a crazy phase of life.  Growing up.  High School.  College.  After college single life.  Marriage.  Then (if you’re hoping for it and lucky enough) – babies, and little kids, and teenagers and then empty nesters.  If you don’t have kids, work and travel and family are still stupid crazy.  And then what?  Retirement?  It’s all crazy.  It has all been crazy.  It is going to be crazy.  Do I sound crazy?  My husband’s vote on that one is a resounding, YES.

So let me start over.  I think at this particular time in my life, I am feeling desperate for real connections and real friendships and having people know me and accept me and support who I am when I am unapologetically me.   Partially because motherhood/middle-age can be a lonely, lonely time – and partially because becoming a mom and starting a family has really reshaped and redefined who I am at my core.  I’d say my college friends liked me because I was fun and spontaneous and up for anything and laughable and because I was a touch crazy.  Haha.  Here I am – still crazy – but not spontaneous AT ALL and usually falling somewhere between the-voice-of-reason and Donna-Doomsday when it comes to plans, fun, and our children’s lives, schedule, and safety.

I want so badly to connect with other moms because I want to feel supported in my craziness – I have an INTENSE fear of my children falling off the canal path near our home and drowning.  Intense.  And nothing makes me feel more connected to another mom than when she says she is scared of the same thing.  Ha.  But I also want to be able to say, “My kids drive me bonkers,” or, “Parenting is so hard on a marriage,” or, “Today I hated my life,” or, “I need a drink,” or, “Oops.  I think I just peed my pants,” and know that someone gets it, isn’t judging, and is laughing/crying/peeing right there with me.  Hahaha.

Okay.  We’ve established that I really want some mom friends.  Not just some.  All the mom friends.  All moms are invited to my house for a glass of wine tomorrow night.  Come!  There will be cheese! Yes, I want that connectedness, and I’d love to have an endless chain of people I can text when I’m desperate for some adult conversation or need to drop my kids off for an hour so I can actually GO TO MY OWN DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT.  But I also really, really, reallyreallyreally want to give that to other moms.  I want to stand in solidarity.  I want to make you feel not so alone (or so crazy).  I want to provide that safe place to be honest about how hard it all is.  I want to be the village.  We need a village, moms.  I think it’s not just me that feels this way.  I think there are a lot of us out there.  Yet we go to playgrounds and keep to ourselves, or sign up for music class in hopes of meeting people but never do more than smile and tell someone their kid’s shoes are cute.

So, back to my original question.  If so many of us NEED and WANT more friends, why is it so hard to make them?

1.) Plans are hard.  Sounds stupid, but it’s true.  Making plans is hard.  STICKING to the plan is even harder – kids get sick, skip naps, throw fits, make you hate them for the day, or something comes up that makes it feel nearly impossible to leave the house.

2.) We’re tired.  Having the mental energy to connect is hard.

3.) We have no confidence that it will be okay if we show up crying in sweat pants.

4.) Our kids are such attention hungry little buggers that it is very much impossible to have a conversation that lasts for more than 1.5 coherent, related sentences.  “Let’s hang out and not talk to each other but instead just chase our children around telling them no for an hour and then I’ll go home!” Sounds fun.

5.) It is intimidating and it is scary.  This one is what I felt tonight after an hour of “playtime” with a new neighbor mom friend and her very sweet little boy .  When our children are absolute nightmarish monsters around people we don’t really know – maybe they’re tired or hungry or having an off day or maybe it’s currently just where they are in their terrible transitions into hopefully becoming decent members of society someday – whatever the reason – it is mortifying.  When your kids spend the ENTIRE time crying about sharing or whining about snacks or screaming over a skinned knee, it is a crawl-back-in-your-hole-and-just-wave-from-the-yard-when-they-pass-by-from-now-on kind of embarrassing moment.  I think it’s so hard to make mom friends because when my kids are terrible (which happens.  To all of us) I feel like a failure and I feel like there’s no chance this mom will not A.) Hate her time with me and my kids, B.) Judge me for being a bad parent and them for being horrendous children, and C.) Ever actually want to hang out again.  It’s scary.  It’s putting yourself out there in a big way.  If you think being judged by onlookers is uncomfortable, try having your children and your parenting skills judged by onlookers.  Puke.  Sweat.  Vomit. Sweat some more.  So, I think a lot of us just don’t do it.  We hide.  We stay busy.  We make excuses.  We bail.

But I have decided not to bail.  Or hide.  Or make excuses.  I talk to people at the park.  I ask for phone numbers even if it makes me super nervous.  I reach out, I invite, I make plans.  And I stick to them, even when it means showing up with a toddler who didn’t nap and a 4 year old who will say or do something embarrassing (like pull his pants down and pee in your yard.  Guaranteed).  Because I really do believe that mom friends are my salvation and just about the only way I’m going to survive the next 18ish years of my life.  Ha.

Anyway.  There it is.  That’s how I feel about that.  At least for today that’s how I feel about that.  Tomorrow, I’ll have some coffee and read this and realize it is total garbage and want to delete it.

Oh, and no.  This rambling post has nothing to do with these beautiful family photographs.  Except that I wrote this post and I took these family photos.   And I guess the sentiment with which I started still holds true – you should really want to be friends with this gorgeous lady.  She is so incredibly warm, and she’s real, and she laughs at her kids when they are disasters and rolls her eyes at her husband (because marriage) and she also is just genuine and kind and funny and cool.  She has a super fun husband, who also is one of my favorite friends, and their kids are about as cute as they come.  If I hadn’t moved to Phoenix last year, I would probably be peer pressuring her into being my friend and coming over to play with my loony-bin children.

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Virginia Stiles is a photographer based in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona.  She offers weddings, elopements, studio newborn sessions, in-home lifestyle sessions, and family photography sessions.  Her photographs are bold, fun, and candid while also grabbing those holiday card posed photos too.  She was born and raised in Ohio, spent a decade in Colorado where she met her husband and started a family, and recently relocated to AZ.  Her favorite areas to explore in her new home state include Scottsdale, Old Town Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Paradise Valley, Camelback Mountain, Phoenix Mountain Preserve, McDowell Mountain, Fountain Hills, South Mountain, Sedona, Tucson, Flagstaff, and more!

Ashleigh Burchett

Love your editing style! Love the background too. What a happy family!

I love how you write. I love your honesty and you are so funny. If I had kids and lived by you I would totally sign up to be a mommy friend.

Love you, V! You’re one of the very best (friend, wife, mother, drinking buddy, crying buddy, and on and on and on…!)! (Also, key evidence of a real friendship: sharing all your poopy pants scenarios 😘).

Yes to all of these things! I’m in the thick of it right now, and so tired and lonely and tired and did I mention tired. Wishing there was an easy answer.

While I don’t have the kid craziness, we 100% speak the same language. Especially when it comes to finding the real friendships; the people who accept and know who we are, and love us anyway!

God I love you and your writing. So honest, and EXACTLY what I’m thinking… like all of the time. Such a great post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts V. Your words are SO FUNNY, I just kept thinking that I could be writing this post because I relate to it so much. Although my version would be far less entertaining.

I will be your mom friend Joni 😉

Your honesty is refreshing and you know so many (if not all young and middle aged moms) are feeling this way We just don’t admit it to others or admit it to ourselves sometimes. All that aside, these pics are gorgeous! Hang in there!

I love how genuine you are Virginia! I’m not a mom but I totally want to be your friend! It wouldn’t be the same connection I know but you’ve sold me 🙂

And these images are GORGEOUS! This family is precious and your perspective capturing their moments is prime.

I love reading things you write- it’s always honest, witty and maybe a little too relatable (especially the pee-in-your-pants part 😂). Good work, I know you’ll find some great mom friends for sure!

V, your honest and hilarious commentary on life and motherhood has brightened my day on an untold number of occasions, and often makes me laugh out loud (in my office, which is embarrassing). You are an incredibly supportive friend to anyone who will let you in, and I feel so blessed and lucky to have shared some of my favorite and most cherished pre-kid and post-kid adventures with you. You are also an incredibly talented photographer and I can count at least 10 of your photos hanging on our walls. You are the best. Please keep the commentary coming—I need it. Seriously.

Yes! I wish you still lived in Denver to be mom friends with me 😉 And to teach me your editing secrets! It is rare to find someone who is a mom, funny and super talented, like you. Also have you watched Catastrophe? There is an episode about making mom friends and I was laughing so much! xoxo

OH MY GOSH YES. Times 1 million. I am right there with ya. And you are hilarious and write so well and took the words right out of my brain. It is so hard to make deep friendships as an adult and even harder as a mom. Hopefully we will all figure it out!

I love reading your blogs, posts, rants, etc. So honest and you know how to put into words what all of us moms feel! You’re always entertaining and refreshingly REAL!

Making new friends is so hard but with kids…way to put yourself out there. You are braver than most.
Your writing is so hilarious and true. Also, a play date with a mom of one kid, when you have two, is just bound to end poorly. On your end. 😘

Spot on…loved reading this and commiserating. Also made me depressed that you don’t live in Denver anymore! Great photos, as always!

These are incredible!!!! You captured such real moments. They all look so happy!!! I would love photos like these taken of my family!! Ahh!! Come to Maryland!!!

Holy. Shit. Yes. 👏🏽

Love you, Virginia! Consistently true, honest, raw, and vulnerable. Your writing connects us not only through motherhood/parenting but through mundane, embarrassing, enlightening, stressful, and altogether overwhelming human experience. Keep ‘em coming……helps me feel better about myself 😉

I love how crisp these photos are! Seriously beautiful work!!!

Teresa G Woodhull

Seriously everything you just said resonates SO much with me! Mamahood can be so lonely at times, and i feel blessed to have a few friends who dont judge me and i can be myself with. I can totally be your non-judgy long distance mama friend!

So true! I feel like when we find people we truly connect with as adults, they are instantly promoted to BFF’s haha

How is it that everything you write is like it could be taken right from the thought ticker that is my mind? How is it that I feel a level of kindredness with you and we’ve never met in person? (now am I the desperate sounding one ? don’t care.) 😉 I’ll be your friend. Hit me up next time you’re here for real. hahaha. I’ve felt really judged lately about not loving parenthood at times. I get people who are argumentative with me, combative, or like to tell me how I should feel just because I don’t want to listen to “let it go” for the 5 billionth time or because I say it’s hard. But for reals, these Arizona family portraits are amazeballs. You captured this phase well with their kiddos and I want to squeeze that baby. The connection between the mama and her babes is tangible here.

So yeah, let’s get together & ignore our kids and talk about the plastic pile of stinky lies that the diaper genie is!

That Arizona background is just breathtaking. Beautiful family! And I’m not a mom yet, but I have many mom friends that feel the same way you do about friends. I admire your goal to no longer bail!

I freaking love this family shoot! It’s so bright and fun!

These pictures are too perfect! Love your style and yay for putting yourself out there to connect with people!

I absolutely agree! Even for people without kids. It’s so easy to meet people but so hard to really connect. And I think you hit the nail on the head. We’re tired! Real connections are emotionally exhausting (at least for us introverts) and they take so much effort. Hopefully, we’ll all figure it out eventually!

Micah Emily Mathis

Blue eyed babies are just to die for! I cannot get over the cuteness in this blog post!

This family looks so happy! You did a wonderful job capturing their photographs! I’m sure they are thrilled with these!

This is fantastic. I really like the warmth in the images. You did a really great job with the photo session. Awesome work!

I love how you not only captured family portraits but also just real parenting moments. All of the images seem so authentic and real and who could not fall in love with those baby blues!

I love love love these family shots! The dad and son shots with them looking at the water is the cutest thing ever!!!
You are such an photographer! This shoot is one of the best!

LOVE These Arizona family photos! I love all the sweet emotions you captured and you are so right about it being difficult to connect. It looks like you had a great day with them!