Home. Our center of the universe. Where we start and end our days.

We spend more time in our homes than almost anywhere else. So why do we try to hide them?

Social media is an interesting thing. We post and share pictures of our lives, but typically only of the ones that we want others to see. We share smiling happy selfies, clean homes, excited children, healthy marriages. But is that real life? Is that what OUR life looks like?

Depression and suicide rates are on the rise. Particularly among teens and millennials in the United States. And it’s being attributed to the use of social media.

Now whether or not that’s because we are spending more time staring at a screen rather than at a friendly face over coffee, or whether it’s because we hide behind computers instead of in the shade of a comfortable tree, it’s hard to tell. There are a variety of barriers in play for what triggers depression, but the facade that we build only worsens it.

A few years ago I wondered what it would be like to document homes as they truly are. Typically when I come into a family’s home for a lifestyle photography session, everything is spotless. Parents are usually running around with finishing touches and shyly say something along the lines of “Oh how embarrassing. Sorry for the mess, we ran out of time” Ran out of time? For what? Hiding that you live here?

But when I think about it, I do the SAME THING. Every time we have people over, particularly for parties, we have sheer panic for a 24 hour period. We clean and scrub and dust and declutter and sweep and mop until our backs are aching and our hands are crispy from the amount of washing we’ve done.

It reminds me of the HILARIOUS video titled “Company Is Coming” by Chris Fleming. If you haven’t seen it, please take a moment to enjoy this video that is just dripping with truth.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we need to pretend that humans don’t make messes?

Over the last two weeks, some brave families have stepped forward to rip down one of those barriers. And that is the appearance of Home. I was lovingly invited into these sacred spaces, to document how these families live on a daily basis. From the messy crumb filled kitchens, to the cluttered shelves, to muddy doggy footprints, to the toy littered living rooms, the sticky walls, all of it.

Today I’d like to share with you what real homes look like. To show that social media is a great way to remember the good times and to post your favorite memories. But that it isn’t a way of life. To raise up hopes and courage and love and truth.

And to normalize the art of home.

Home of Molly.

1)Are you a working mom or a stay at home mom? SAHM

2)How many children do you have? 3 adult children out of the house (age 25, 22, 19) and 3 children at home ages 16, 6, & 5 with one on the way. And a 7 month old grandchild at home.

3) What is your favorite part about your home? The big bay window in the living room and living on a circle.

4) What do you love most about being a parent? Watching my children grow and learn and how they can amaze me with the way they figure out their world and how intelligent they truly are.

5) What’s your favorite color? Purple

6) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? England to visit the family that my daughter stayed with during an exchange program in 2015.

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Home of Alexandra.

1)Are you a SAHM or a working Mom? Working Mom

2)How many children do you have and what are their ages? Asher, 19 months old

3)What’s your favorite thing about your home? How we’ve turned it into our own slowly but surely over time.

4)What do you love most about being a parent? Watching my son learn new things and grow. He’s starting to talk right now and learns new words daily and I don’t even know where he’s heard them before! It amazes me.

5)If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? I’d definitely go to Africa! I’d love to go on a safari and see the landscape.

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Home of Amanda.

1) Are you a Stay at Home Mom or a Working Mom? I’m a stay at home Mom(and photographer)

2)How many children do you have and what are their ages? I have three. Ages 6, 4, and 1.5

3)What’s your favorite thing about your home? My favorite is the hardwood floors!

4)What do you love most about being a parent?  The best thing about being a parent is the cuddles and the way they find to express their love to me.

5) What is your favorite color? Golden Yellow

6)If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?  If I could travel anywhere I would go to the mountains in Colorado or a beautiful beach!

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Home of Anne.

1) Are you a Stay at Home Mom or a Working Mom? I am a work at home mom

2)How many children do you have and what are their ages? I have 4. Ages 9, 6.5, 6, and 4

3)What’s your favorite thing about your home? I love the style of my house. This is the 2nd American Foursquare that I have owned.

4)What do you love most about being a parent?  Watching my kids learn new things and how funny they are.

5) What is your favorite color? Blue

6)If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?  I would probably go back to Norway for a longer trip.

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Home of Jessica(Me!)

1) Are you a Stay at Home Mom or a Working Mom? I’m a work from home mom. I’m the photographer behind Jessica Newton Photography and the writer behind Photo Mommy.

2) How many children do you have? I have three. Ages 6.5, 4, and 8 months. All boys!

3) What’s your favorite thing about your home? The location. We love being near downtown but we equally love the natural elements surrounding our home in Foster Park.

4) What do you love most about being a parent? Watching our children become little humans. From learning to walk to learning how to tell someone that they have a crush on them. It may be the sweetest and most challenging experience there is.

5) What is your favorite color? I’ve never been able to choose just one.

6) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? New Zealand. I’d love to go cave rafting and to see the glow worm caves.

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Home of Alyse

1) Are you a Stay at Home Mom or a Working Mom? Working Mom-Kindergarten Teacher

2) How many children do you have? I have two, ages 3 and 9 months.

3) What’s your favorite thing about your home? Slowly doing the “improvements” to make it ours.

4) What do you love most about being a parent? Watching them learn new things and the snuggles.

5) What is your favorite color. Blue

6) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Europe- The old architecture and history fascinates me.

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