April 3, 2014
Originally published in The Asbury Park Press, I’m happy to share this on my blog here as well. 🙂
I remember being 21 and wanting nothing more than to be married, barefoot and pregnant in front of the stove. At 25, I started Vanessa Joy Photography (www.VanessaJoy.com) and my ideal future was being a successful wedding photographer. When I was 27, my goals were to be the top wedding photographer and speak all around the world teaching others what I know. Now that I’m 30 and have achieved all of those things (except the pregnant part) and more, I’m ready for whatever is next. The way I look at life is that there’s too much to do to only one thing, and I’m ambitious enough to want to do it all.
Living in Freehold and working side-by-side with my husband, Wedding and Corporate Film-Maker Rob Adams Films (www.RobAdamsFilms.com), has most certainly fulfilled a few dreams of mine. And traveling around the world to places I’ve never even heard of before I was asked to speak there is just the cherry on top. I wouldn’t give it up for the world, and I didn’t think I’d ever have to until recently.
I’m 30 years old. 30 is a pivotal time for me because it’s the height of my career with so much to look forward to and at the same time it’s the start the proverbial biological clock ticking away. I have this fork in the road ahead of me: career path or mom path. Then I realized it, who told me there was a fork in the road anyway? Why can’t I be both?
Whenever I would talk about babies with my friends that had babies, they’d all say the same thing. “It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do, but it’ll be worth it.” Ok, that one is understandable; I feel the same way about my businesses. The response that killed me, though, was when I asked them about how it affected their lives. “What you want in life changes. Nothing else matters really anymore. You won’t care about anything else.” What I got from what was what I know see as Lesson #1: Having a kid makes you not care about what you love now. Sounds like a brainwashing exercise you can count me out of. I absolutely love what I do now and I wouldn’t want to fall out of love with it even to replace it with something, or someone else.
Traveling has always been a passion of mine. Flying is like second nature to me now. Whenever my husband and I talk about our upcoming travels with our friends with children their usual response is, “Get all that traveling done now before you have kids!” Ok, so I took from that Lesson #2: Having a kid means the best things about your life will go away. Sounds like an awful waste of those air miles I’ve been saving up. Not to mention taking a big part of my life away.
Here’s where things get more shocking. I’m a wedding photographer. I photograph the biggest, most important and most expensive day in the lives of the bride and groom. Sick days don’t exist in my field and brides and their families make it known that pregnancy shouldn’t either. I once had a mother-of-the-bride call me a month before the wedding and the first thing she said to me was, “You’re not pregnant are you? Because the hair lady and florist both are and it’s ruining everything.”
It gets better. I had a potential bride sit down for a consultation with me and she literally said, “We love your work and would love to hire you, but we’re a little concerned that you’ll be starting a family soon.” Wow. I had to try and convince her that I wasn’t, but she still didn’t hire me. So, Lesson #3: It will destroy your business if you get pregnant. Because trying to conceive and give birth is so easy I’ll just plan it around the 25 weddings I do a year. Sadly, I know many wedding professionals that have done just that and the ones that haven’t panic about telling their brides about it and deal with looks of distain the day of the wedding. Those looks of distain are actually contagious and for some reason it now sticks in my mind that, Lesson #4: Being pregnant is unprofessional.
With these four main lessons, and so many more I can add to the pile, I’ve been essentially conditioned to think that if I want children, I’m going to have to give up my business, my lifestyle and my passion for what I love to do. Instead, I’ll become an unprofessional nuisance to my clients and have no other life than my children. I don’t want to do that. Who would want to do that?
Where does that leave this working woman and the thousands more out there who are just like me? Can you actually have an amazing career and a family to share it with too?
A fellow photographer friend, with three children, has told me that thanks to having kids, she’s never been more creative. It’s as if instead of the “nesting phase” that a lot of pregnant women go trough, she went through a creative one instead that helped boost her business. Another fellow photographer friend, with two children, has told me that having kids helped her be more efficient with her time since she had to work around the kid’s nap and bedtime schedules. Finally, a fellow photographer husband-wife team seems to make it work by tag-teaming throughout the day to get things done.
Will having children really destroy my whole life? Some days I believe whole-heartedly yes, they will. Other days I think I’m Super Girl and will be the woman who does it all without having to give up anything. How do you decide to take or not to take the plunge that could change everything you love and have worked so hard for? Maybe it’s like marriage and “when you know, you know”. But wherever my path may take me, I’ll be up for the adventure.