As a parent, I find myself overwhelmed with articles about good parenting and examples of good parenting (and “examples of the kind of parent I’d rather not be”) on a daily basis. With a plethora of information, I still struggle with one thing. Isn’t one of the hardest things to just decide what to do sometimes?

Fact: Toddler is creatively decorating the wall.

Cool. I figured we’d deal with this at some point. I’m going to HANDLE it. See me? I’m about to handle it.

But instead, this is what goes through my mind. Uh. What exactly do I say? I don’t want to yell but I want to get my point across. Crap, he’s getting out the other crayons. The more I think, the more tired my brain gets and the more I notice that he’s enjoying the “drawing” and is ABOUT to turn around and watch for my reaction. So I muscle through and try to be the parent I envision. This is what I call in the trenches. (It’s just non-stop.) Frankly, we all pretend we are being the good parents we picture. But we aren’t all the time. We sure are trying and it’s nice to have reminders from real parents that we aren’t alone in the relentlessness of this adventure.

Enter, these real parents: Listen To Your Mother. In this series of live readings that occur in cities across the US, local people talk about motherhood in a real way–not the sugary as a glazed donut kind of way. These women are vulnerable and honest which is  surprisingly refreshing. From foster parenting to infertility, from stay at home mom struggles to health scares, from end of life decisions with our own parents to grieving the death of a  precious child. It was covered this year. I laughed and ugly cried while tears dripped on to the LCD screen of my camera.

It was an honor to be the official photographer for Listen To Your Mother again this year. As a relatively new mother, I appreciate having role models of brave mothers who are willing to share their stories. Without future ado, here they are:

Rebecca Lanning (cast)

Alicia Altmueller (cast)

Joy Salyers (cast)

Lisa Bulls (cast)

Stephanie Lormand (cast)

Agnes Stevens (cast)

Sarah Schroeder (cast)

Liisa Ogburn
(cast & co-producer)

Katy Schafer (cast)

Mandy Hitchcock

Dana Hudgens (cast)

KeAnne Hoeg (cast & co-producer)

Betsy Martin (cast)

Erin Duffy (cast)

Marty Long (producer)