September. Pictures. New traditions.


The month that Teagan died.
Suicide awareness and prevention month.
The month I choose to work and speak and host events.
The month I need rest and solitude as well as love and support.

After two years of September having this significance, I’m learning how to (and how not to) best support myself, fulfill my mission and purpose and hold space for all the unexpecteds that come.

September is full of meaning and hope. Hurt and grief. Loneliness and community. Love and frustration. Motivation and exhaustion. Just like everything else in life, I’m learning as I go. September 2023 was all of the above. I’m grateful for the lessons and growth, the goodness, healing and joy, and I’m also happy to let it go.

September has also become the month of “Family Photos”. This was the third year in a row that we’ve had our family pictures taken.
That’s a record. Before that, it had been five years. This one was inspired because I wanted to announce our 7th baby. It was a fun shoot.

I was the mom who always wanted family pictures each year and I’m also the mom who didn’t want to stress over having coordinating outfits, begging my husband and older kids to participate, spending the money, waiting until I lost weight, etc. So, while family pictures did happen, it wasn’t on the regular.

I am now the mom who will always schedule a yearly family photo session for the rest of my life. I am also the mom who doesn’t care so much about coordinating outfits, but more about each person wearing what they feel comfortable and confident in. I don’t beg my family. Thankfully, my husband is super supportive of my desires for family pictures. Kids who still live in my house come along for the ride and I’m sure a couple of them do it only because they know how much it means to me. Those who are on their own participate at will and if they are in town. I will take every single opportunity to have a photo with all of us together, but if we’re not, I’m not going to not schedule the pictures. And for heaven sakes, chubby or not, I’m taking the dang pictures. 😉

I know it’s just a picture. I know the we can do it later or another time mentality. I know that it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But it is.

I have my own family picture miracle. You can read about it here but this photoshoot and the events leading up to it will forever be one of the best gifts I’ve ever received in my life. I had no idea what would come just 24 hours later and as our sweet photographer, Janna, kept sending me pictures from the shoot over the next week, my heart cherished those images more than I ever knew possible.

So, each year now and forever more, I make an appointment and we schedule pictures. Last year we had everyone, this year we were missing the marrieds and the new grandbaby. It’s a forever priority to me now, because you just don’t know what tomorrow might bring.

As well as all the normal photos, I’ll always take this one too. I’m holding one of the last photos ever taken of Teagan. One from that family picture miracle session. I love that picture of him so much. I love his grin, the way the sun was shining on his face, the little twinkle in his eyes.

One of the things I had heard about losing a child, is that you don’t want people to forget them. It’s so true. I don’t want him to be forgotten and I don’t want him to ever not be a part of our family. This is the hardest picture to take each year, and also one, I don’t ever want to NOT take. It might seem like a weird tradition to some, but I’ve adopted it. This photo of him is how I’ll always remember Teagan and I’m so grateful that it was one of my last memories and experiences with him. This photo reminds me of his handsome, stubborn, sarcastic, not-wanting-to-be-there-but doing-it-for-his-mom, caring, loving self.

So long September. Thanks for the learning, the tears, the reflection, the growth, the healing and the experience of feeling, living and loving.

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