How I turned into a low-key pageant mom
To whomever is reading this blog, it is important to me to share things that aren’t terribly comfortable to share. You never really know who it might help. And this is probably not exactly how you thought this post would go, given the title, but I’ll explain.
I began falling into a deep depression about closing my studio in April of this year as well as other personal stuff that hit around the same time while also being elated about being Miah’s mom. It’s an odd thing. The dichotomy. And I even have shoots next month and writing/editing work so I’m not completely done with what I’ve always been inspired to do. But there is just something about shutting something down that you worked hard to get off the ground right when it was showing signs of growth, however small!
A few months ago a friend of mine started posting photos of her daughter winning all of these pageants. At first I wasn’t really sure how it worked. I mean they weren’t exactly live, Honey Boo Boo pageants, which is what people think of unfortunately. After poking around and asking her as well as her bestie who began posting wins her daughter received as well, I found out that they were online photo pageants on Facebook — usually run by groups that vet the members and is set to private. I saw other moms around the nation posting there, cheering each other’s kiddos on, and congratulating them even if their child didn’t win. I dipped my toe in, just posting one photo, but Miah won faster than I thought. What really grabbed me, other than winning a few that we did, is that each “pageant” has a different fun theme with the prizes being a crown, or sash, or trophy or a combination of those items or even other prizes. Below are just a few of her “titles.”
Some may see this as silly, trite, or extravagant. But what you may not know is that photo pageants push me to shoot a photo almost every day now because they always have themes. Before this I stopped wanting to shoot anything and even now I’ve gotten really selective about gigs. However these photoshoot moments with Miah are light, pressure-free, bonding experiences that help me to stay creative. It also helps that she loves taking photos, which is absolutely adorable, whether or not I get the shot I want! Additionally, I get a kick out of searching for the right pic to enter that I may have already shot almost as much as I enjoy shooting new ones because I relive those memories.
The fact is that even when you have friends and family, motherhood can feel kind of alone. It’s weird to say that. You shouldn’t feel that way. Especially with great support. I didn’t realize that was going to be part of this new territory I am navigating. She is my whole world and I gave up everything so I could be her mommy as fully as I could possibly be, which means running a brick and mortar right now isn’t in the cards. I work part-time, contract, and freelance and some days that takes up more time from her than I would like.
Even though it’s all worth it in the end, putting all those dreams aside stung a bit. Anything that can keep my mind imaginative and constantly reaching to do more artistic endeavors is healthy for me and in turn that is good for Miah who definitely loves a happy momma. These photo contests have even pushed me to think about creating photo props that I would have been hesitant to try doing in the past. Now? Why not? I currently have an idea for a big, floral chair that I’m itching to make!
But what about Honey Boo Boo?
Yes, as some folks have said, these photo pageants are kind of a gateway. And I’ve been ribbed a little. I refuse to do any glitz pageants, however, when competing live. Miah has only done one live pageant so far, which I will write about next time, and it was natural meaning children can’t wear fake hair or have full makeup or wear dresses with excessive stoning. I was unaware until now but there are many natural pageants that refuse any kind of get-ups or routines that make a child NOT look like a child. We are only interested in those more cognizant competitions and yes we (my husband David and I) because I don’t do any of this without his input. I’ve made it very clear to loved ones that if Miah one day tells me this stuff is for the birds, we stop. Confidence has always been a struggle since childhood for me and I don’t want that for my own daughter. She will have all of the well-roundedness she can stand as we hope to put her in martial arts early; encourage her humor, intelligence, and tenacity as well as instill in her that everything that makes her who she is encompasses all things inside and out.
I want to be the best I can be for her and not sit in a dark place about what I believe success was SUPPOSED to look like and I don’t want that imprinted on her. I spent most of my life trudging along as a lone wolf who sought after goals that I was sure would validate my existence or make me feel like once I attained that goal, I was worthy. Now I look into Miah’s eyes and realize I had it all wrong.