2017. Life was good. Career was working. Big beautiful weddings were coming my way as often as I could shoot them. Katie was healed from her many breaks, Emma was dancing her little heart away, and Gracie was nuts, typically seen with a basketball in one hand and drum stick in the other. Tim and I were working and traveling all over the country, but something was missing, for me at least.
You see, back in 2014 I told Tim I wanted another baby. He was all, "no. . . .blah blah . . . I'm old . . .blah blah . . . we're so busy . . . blah" Honestly, I heard very little after the no as I'm sure I was calculating how to eventually get what I wanted. Anyway, over the course of the next 3 years, I improved my skills and worked really freaking hard to grow this photography thing. While I was doing that, I was building relationships, at least I thought so with hundreds of people I was meeting through work.
The Bible says, never think you are more important than you are. Remember that friends.
Every year I wanted to approach Tim again that I still felt unfinished in the kiddo department but every year I would think, "But I'm booked for weddings for the next 18 months. I could never let down those people." During those years of business I would KILL myself to never disappoint a client, ever. I worked tired. I added sessions. I worked in the mornings, missed dinner almost every night, and stayed up late editing. Never disappoint anyone Kelli, never. Go, hurry, go.
I was busy and productive 18 hours a day at minimum. Never let anyone down Kelli, never.
That year I won Best of Best Photographer for the 3rd year in a row. I wanted to say thank you so I thought I would throw a party. Yep, I'll throw a big thank you party for all these people who really care about me, all 300 of my current clients. Cue: Naive little happy dance. So, I rented the local pool and invited everyone who had a session with me that year. (Hundreds)
Now keep in mind like 30% of those people are still friends of mine and 20% of them are reading this, so to you guys, Hi!!!!!!
Anyway, the day of the party comes and literally none of my clients can make it. I get texts all day that kids have ballgames, people have work, someone is sick. You know, all the life things that happen. All of them were true. No one was "standing me up" but I had such an eye opening moment that evening. There I sat with about 20 people who were very close to me, you know the "inner circle people." It would appear that I had gone to a lot of trouble, spent a lot of money, to hang out with my family and friends because the only way, at that point in my life, that I would have reserved a weekend for anything was if I thought it was work. If I was doing it for my clients. For a very long time, I had been putting my work above everything else. As the kids played and my friends brought food, the best salsa that was ever made - ever, buckets of canned pop carried in by the most giant of firefighters, cookie cake from my mom, I realized for YEARS I thought my job and me as a photographer was just so very important to all those who hired me but the truth was, me - as a photographer - was and will always be replaceable. All of those people that day gave me valid reasons why they couldn't attend and I didn't hate them. I was fine. And friends, if I couldn't do something for them, they would be ok too.
If I get sick, my people CAN find another human to take their picture. I don't want them to but they could.
If I need to watch soccer, my people CAN find another person to photograph their event. I don't want them to but they could.
If I have a baby, those brides CAN find someone else. WAIT, I told myself, if I have another baby, the world will be ok???? Hold up. If I get pregnant and need to cancel a few weddings, no one would hate me? No one would make me turn in my business license? No one would egg my car or slit my tires????
All of these thoughts came rushing in as I sat beside an almost empty pool beside my happy husband eating pizza watching kids dive off a diving board, which we had not done all stinking summer because why? I was working.
Remember when I said never think you are more important than you are? Yes, I had been thinking all that time that I was the only one that needed picked for all the jobs. If someone picked someone else I was crushed. I was like the middle schooler who wanted to be popular. Pick Me!! Pick Me!!
So I went to the dr. the next month for my regular ole' check up and I was turning 35. In female years that's evidently 160. (insert eye roll). They explained that it was probably time to decide about never having kiddos again, you know because I was ANCIENT. I came home in a panic. Told Tim franticly, "I wasn't done. I wasn't done." He said, "fine, we will just see what happens." That week I also got a birthday card from my Mamaw (who thinks her cards are hilarious), that read, "You're old but at least you're not pregnant." And something inside of me was like, not yet sis. Not yet.
Summary, 9 months later I delivered the happiest little blue-eyed baby that has ever graced this Earth.
Since 2018, after Cole was born, we did a little restructuring, perhaps re-prioritizing, when it came to my business. I now have a little group of about 30 people who typically book all my sessions. These folks, you know who you are, come first and I can't apologize for that. I know their kids names, and they know me. They don't run off with every new cheaper deal around the corner. I know their birthdays and I'll move heaven and earth to make their picture day special. (Even get certain little boys a police car, fire truck, or let them dress up with Spiderman and pretend to climb the federal building). These people care about me as a person and not just a business. If one of my kids are sick, these people will 100% tell me to stay with them and reschedule. To these people I matter and they matter to me. This is the way all businesses should run. Too many times we think everyone cares deeply about us when in fact, that simply isn't true and there is so much freedom in that.
Cole almost wasn't here because we were so distracted with life, work, and things that don't really matter in the end. If I were to encourage you to do one thing this weekend. Evaluate where do you also place far too much value? Do you too think, "They would be crushed without me" when really, they'd probably be ok. Are you too giving so much in an area of your life that is just sucking the life from you, just because you want to feel some kind of validation? That's hard to admit but I feel confident I am not the only one.