Emily Schiffer

Photographer
   
Mothering In A Pandemic
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Nationality: USA
Biography: Whether merging photography and sculpture, working on decade-long photo documentaries, doing commercial photography, or collaborating on community-based projects, I actively engage the issues and ideas at stake in our visual culture. I enjoy... MORE
Private Story
Mothering In A Pandemic
Copyright Emily Schiffer 2022
Updated May 2022
Summary
Here in NY, the pandemic started like a bomb. Hospitals were full and morgues were overflowing. Ambulance sirens blared round the clock. The pandemic has forced husband and I to sustain the unsustainable: working from home without childcare, overseeing remote school for a year and a half, and forgoing sleep to meet deadlines. Our children keep us going. I admire how they honor their feelings. Children have a unique capacity to experience love, joy and fear simultaneously, without compartmentalizing their feelings. My images explore their play and angst as we adapt to the new normal. 
  1. Tell us more about the photo(s). What stands out to you now, looking back? Is there any additional context you’d like to share with our audience?
    When I look at these photos, my most personal work to date, I see the full spectrum of emotion that is parenting. For me, the love is palpable. So is the exhaustion. Images from the early days of the pandemic take me back to a mental space where the privilege of continuing to live was in question. Parenting--and loving with your whole self--is always a juggling act of being present and accepting vulnerability. The pandemic brought that balance to the brink of unbearable, then acclimated us so profoundly that we stopped noticing it.
  2. 2. Can you describe what it has been like being a mother? What are the challenges and triumphs, and what would you like readers to know about your experience? One of the biggest challenges of parenting is making space for creativity to happen, not letting it get bulldozed by the pressures of meeting basic needs. I'm not just talking about art making, it's deeper than that, more of a mindset. Parenting becomes difficult when I loose myself in the stress of finances, kids testing limits, laundry, dishes, trying to maintain a consistent bedtime. Play is an amazing outlet, connector, healer. I think adults need it as much as kids do. I am my best self, and subsequently the best parent I can be, when I am emotionally present, and connecting with my kids via play, art-making, and nature.

  3. 3. What does motherhood mean to you?
    Motherhood is the biggest love I've ever known. Motherhood means being open. Getting to knowing myself and my children, and remembering theres always more to learn. Motherhood is looking at how our needs are met or missed, and being committed to trying again and again. I can't control what life brings, but I can be beside my children on their journies.

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Mothering In A Pandemic by Emily Schiffer
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