This week, I am talking to Kathryn Mathis, of Sweet Feet Photography. I asked Kathryn for an interview because I think she is a pretty remarkable mom, which I think you will see as she shares about her family and her dreams.
Welcome Kathryn! First off, why don’t you tell us a little about you and your family.
I am a mom of 4 amazing, wonderful, awesome children (and one on the way!). Dakota is 5 1/2 years old and has Autism. Coy, Max, and Lily are 3 1/2 year old triplets. Coy is our special little neuro-typical child. Max is also on the Autism spectrum. Lily had a very bad brain injury as a 4 month old and is about like having a 1-2 month old baby, but is so much fun (and feisty!). I work full time at home as Lily’s nurse as well as being a professional photographer outside the home. My husband, Jeremy, is a full time student at two colleges and should be done with school in Spring 2012.
I am amazed by how you juggle being a mom to FOUR kids, running your business, taking care of a special needs child, and having 3 three year olds. How do you do it all?
I’m not sure sometimes! It can get very overwhelming at times and certain things continuously get neglected (ie; our laundry never gets put away) to make time for other things, but I’m slowly finding a balance.
I also know that you don’t really get to “do it all” – how could you? So, what things do you let yourself neglect to make sure you are spending time expressing yourself as an artist?
I would say the house gets neglected the most. I envy organized and clean spaces. I’ve managed to keep our house clean, for the most part, but there’s always dishes and laundry to be done, toys to be picked up, floors to be mopped. It’s tragic how little my floor gets mopped.
What would you say your big dream is?
To be successful and happy with where I’m at. I have big business aspirations that I will be overjoyed when I eventually get them all done, no matter how long it takes. My big big dream is to become known as THE newborn photographer to go to. To have people fly from other states for me or fly me to them, because they love my work that much.
What did you want to be when you grew up? How does your real life today compare?
Interestingly enough, I wanted to be a Neonatologist that specialized in special needs babies. While I’m not a Dr, I did end up in the health care field and work 24/7 with my special needs kiddos. I also dedicate part of my photography business to volunteer photography of special needs children, infants in the NICU, and terminal (or passed) children.
When you are really in the zone, being productive, being an artist, running your business and doing all the things you want to be doing, what does a typical day look like?
Lots of tv for the kids, lots of root beer for me, ha! That is typically how the day goes when I have things I need to get accomplished though. My office is set up right next to the kids playroom, so they play and get to watch favorite shows while I work. When I don’t have a ton of things to do and I can pace it out a bit, I’ll work for a few hours during the day, then I’ll generally start back up when the kids have gone to bed.
Do you feel like parts of yourself have been neglected since becoming a mom, or like things have moved to the back burner, so to speak?
Kind of. Because I have so many children and due to their special needs, I’m not able to go anywhere by myself. That makes it really difficult to get out of the house, ever, since Jeremy has such a demanding school schedule as well. It can get hard being cooped up so much with no possible escape. It can be hard, but I think it will get better as they get older.
What do you wish you had more time for?
Trying out all the new things I want to do in my business.
How do you squeeze in time for yourself, your art, your passions?
One day a week is scheduled for me to do something, uninterrupted. Whether it be a photo session, getting my hair done, or something like that, I have the time for me. I don’t always take it, but it’s nice to have there. During each day, I have an hour or so where the kids have to sit quietly and read or draw while I work on what I need to.
How do you tap into your own creativity and passions in those times when you feel tired and worn out from your mama duties?
That is a very hard question and I can’t say I’ve figured out the answer yet. One of the ways I spark my passion is by looking at what my idols are doing and thinking about how I could get there and what I would have to do.
Do you ever feel guilty for wanting time away from your family? How do you deal with that?
I do feel guilty sometimes, particularly because I don’t ever get time away from them, except when I’m working or getting a haircut. I know that a relaxed mom is better to them than a strung out one because I’m so stressed. It has been hard getting myself to believe that though.
What would you say is the single most important thing that helps you balance who you are as a mom and who you are as an artist?
Online support of other photographer friends/moms has been essential for me. We bounce ideas off each other and help each other stay focused and challenged.
What gives you hope and inspiration?
My kids. They have inspired a lot of my ideas and designs.
What do you see for yourself in this next year with regards to your business and being a mom?
This next year should be very interesting for both my business and me! Our new baby is due in June, so I think the couple months afterward might be a bit slow, but I have lots of aspirations for the months leading up to that and then into 2011. My goal in the next few years is to become only a newborn photographer. I absolutely adore working with newborns, there is just so much amazing art you can create. I know for the mom part of it, I will eventually break down and ask for outside help. That is going to be hard for me, because it’s just not ME.
What are your biggest hopes and dreams for your family?
Really, just everyone being happy, no matter what they do.
How does your making art help make those dreams come true?
I think it definitely shows our kids that you can do what you want if you put your mind to it, that you can have a job in what you love, and that you don’t have to sacrifice joy to have a career. It’s also important to me to show our girls that women can do more than stay at home, if that’s what they want. There are no limits to what they can do.