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POWERHOUSE MAMAS: MOMMY & ME WITH "STRESSED AND BLESSED MAMA" NICOLE BENEDUM

Despite the fact that I am the mother of two little boys (3 and 4 years old), before starting to photograph moms, I was not really aware of how much presence they have in social media. It is a community that surprises me every day, as they share their ups and downs: their struggles and "bad hair" days, and the highlights of their days, like catching up with personal errands, managing to steal some nap time or a shopping trip on their own. You know that's a challenge. Everyday there is something new, we fail and we learn, we smile at our little big accomplishments, and it seems that all that is even better if you get to share it with a community of moms like you on social media. I wish I had been aware of how supportive social-media savvy moms can be when my boys were really little; I would have felt less alone and overwhelmed, I would have felt that it's all OK because there were moms like me out there going walking the same path. But I found them now, and it's never too late to find your mommy tribe, don't you think? 

I was impressed to meet Stressed and Blessed Mama Nicole Benedum on Instagram and see just how her down-to-earth personality and posts attracted so many other moms.  Women in her "tribe" react and respond with a kind heart to her daily adventures at home; they are supportive, because she keeps it real. As her blog name reads, she feels "stressed" and "blessed": you could be her. If you haven't read her blog, I invite you to do so. I was lucky to start texting with her and find a person I could instantly have a long conversation with, and we did! Lots of texting, back and forth, I felt like I had known her for ages. And then I met her children and spent a sweet and busy! afternoon with them. Here she is in her own words, the perfect frame for the moments we managed to capture in images. I hope you enjoy them.

How did you become interested in social media/blogging? 

I wanted to start blogging when I had my daughter (my first born) because I knew as soon as I had her that I couldn't go back to work. We were thankfully able to afford having me stay at home and I wanted to utilize my English major and blog. I never got around to it and was determined to do it this time with my son. I started blogging in July of this year and I just love it! I've always loved Instagram so starting one for my blog just fell right into place! 

What does writing your blog give you that you find attractive or compelling?

Writing my blog helps me feel like I am not alone as a mother. I often felt so alone as a first time mom because no one really wants to tell you that they're not sleeping at night because baby is up every hour wanting to breastfeed. Or that they are arguing more with their spouse because children are just SO much work (beautiful work, but as with anything there are ups and downs to that too). I wanted to be as honest as possible in my blog to reach out to moms who feel like they are struggling. Or aren't thriving in motherhood and to tell them they aren't alone. I use my blog as an outlet to share my struggles, my successes, my fears, my funny moments, my tips and lists and mama/baby product recommendations. It's therapeutic and I love the community of other mamas. 

What is it that you value the most of that huge mama tribe that follows you on Instagram and reads your blog?

This question made me smile. I just love meeting new mamas and making connections. I love reaching out and saying "I'm right there with you on team no sleep. I promise this is a fleeting moment and will pass before you know it". I love sharing our ups and downs and being as honest as possible. Social media is tricky because you can show all the pretty parts of your life, but I think it's good to be open and reach out when you need help. I love seeing advice from other mamas and hearing they are going through something similar. I'm all about building up my mama tribe. 

How do you think motherhood changed you?

Once I became a mother, it was like a light was switched on. All of my previous cares and worries were placed on the back burner and everything else shifted into focus on my children. Everything became more intense. I loved more deeply. I never knew I could love like that. I cried harder if I heard something on the news about families or small children. I also laughed harder with pure joy at something my children have done or my husband has done. I feel like there was a "before kids Nicole" and now I am the "after kids Nicole", and it feels like I'm almost a new person. I love everything about motherhood, all the hills and valleys. 

Best part of being a mom?

The best part of being a mom is loving my children. I love watching them learn and grow and try new things. I love watching them figure out a problem or take on a new task. I love watching them laugh. Their joy is my joy. Their happiness makes my entire day. I'd like my children to learn to look at the silver linings. I want them to look at the world and try to see the good in it. I want them to love and be tough, and strong. Not physically, but mentally. I mainly just want them to be happy. To me, that is all that really matters <3