balancing series: Bethany

 Please give a warm welcome my next guest - the dear Bethany from Telling Gets Old. I don't think I've ever laughed as much then when I'm reading her recounts of her little girl's words and deeds...
all photos by Bethany Hansen

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your family
I'm Bethany, and I'm a (part-time/freelance) photographer and stay-at-home mother. My husband Andrew is finishing up a PhD in European History and will hopefully be molding impressionable young minds at a college somewhere soon. And Adeline, our daughter, is not-quite three years old and specializes in crayon art, picture books, and puzzles at the moment. 

2. What things in life inspire you most? 
Beauty in many forms...good books, being outdoors, simple food, deep conversation with friends, well-made movies and television, the work of other photographers, paintings, music... lately I have been finding that conversation with other artist friends is the most invigorating and inspiring thing to me. A few of my friends and I started a message-board where we are working through the book The Artist's Way, and besides discussing the content of that book, it's also become a good place where we talk about what we're working on, thinking about, post links to inspiring content, thought-provoking quotes, and so forth. 

3. How do you currently manage mothering, home, life and working on personal (and or) work projects? 

This is a hard balance, and something that I think is in constant flux. I try to work around my husband's schedule, and vice versa. For instance, if I know he has a particularly grueling work week, I try to avoid taking on photoshoots or major projects that week, so that I can be more present and pick up the slack at home, and he does the same for me. At the moment, he puts far more time into his job than I do, so the bulk of childcare during the week falls to me. But we are both really supportive of each other's work, and neither of us could do our jobs without the other.  We're not reliant on my work for the bulk of our income, so I have the luxury of taking on as much or as little as fits the season of life we're in. Some weeks I might have four or five shoots, and some weeks (or months) none. I imagine if Adeline goes to preschool next year I will take on more work more consistently. But I always try to make time at least a couple times per week to do some "work," even if it's not for a client. I feel more fulfilled as a mother/wife/woman when I'm stretching myself artistically in some capacity. 

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?

I like the flexibility that we have now, that I can spend most of my time tending to my daughter. And I love that my husband's job also affords him the flexibility to be home when I can't. We do have a few babysitters we rely on occasionally, but at this point in time, I'm thankful that we're able to mostly care for Adeline between the two of us. 

5. Are there things you'd like to do differently/better?

I'm a really poor housekeeper (as far as cleaning goes). I can't blame this on motherhood or work; I've never been the best at cleaning. We all feel better when our surroundings are neat and clean, and I know it ought to be more of a priority to me to dust the bookcases and scrub the shower walls, but I just can't seem to quite get there. 

6. What is your favourite part of the day?

I never would have thought I'd say this a few years ago, but mornings are definitely my favorite part of the day now. Especially when I can manage to get up before Adeline does. There's something so refreshing and centering about easing into the day and having the hours ahead of you, still waiting to be filled. (As opposed to 4:30 p.m. when I'm just watching the clock, counting the hours until a) Andrew gets home and b) bedtime, when I want nothing more than the time to pass quickly.)

7. What advice, if any, would you give other mothers about finding a good balance?

I would say to keep in mind that balance is something that is ever-shifting, from one season of life to the next (or even one day to the next). Re-evaluate frequently, and don't be afraid to make changes, big and small, to things that aren't working for everyone in your family.