I am convinced that God brings people into your life for a reason. To fulfill a need that maybe you don’t know is a need yet, but He sees that it is. As I reflect on this story, which I am about to share (it’s long so grab your coffee), I am thankful for His plan.
I belong to a photographers forum called Clickin Moms. This forum has been a source of great inspiration for me, both in my photography and personal photography journey. I have meet colleges, both near (Hi, Christine!) and far (Hi, Kathleen). I have taken classes that have allowed me to grow as a photographer.
About two years ago, there was a post for CM Pen Pals. The idea was that CM would pair up two photographers, with children similar ages, to start a fun pen pal project. Having two boys old enough to write, I thought this would be a good opportunity for them to learn about another part of the country or world and exercise their writing skills. Little did I know, it would become less of a learning vehicle for them and more for me. I was paired up with a Canadian named Kathleen. She lived not to far from my home state of Michigan, so I was actually familiar with her neck of the woods, the weather and the climate. Living in the heat of South Carolina, I thought my children would get a kick of out seeing pictures of snow.
Baby toes in the sand by Kathleen
The first interactions were formal and getting to know each other. She had two boys that were the same age as my boys. I had two boys and a little girl, 17 months. She was a hobbyist photographer, that mainly focused on her family and more of a lifestyle approach. I was in business and did mostly outdoor both posed and causal. After the formal exchanges, I confessed that we were trying to have a fourth child. We had been trying for awhile and it just wasn’t happening as quickly as we had hoped. She told me that they too were trying for their third! So, fast forward a month later, I happily announced that I was expecting! Due at the end of December. A month later, I get an email from Kathleen announcing that she too was expecting, due in January! So now I have a friend who will be pregnant at the same time. I thought this is going to be fun!
Kathleen: I’m so thankful that we found out we were expecting at the same time. I think it would have been really hard for only one of us to go through it knowing the other wanted another baby so badly. Again, God works in mysterious ways.
This is my family, photographed by Kathleen, who has now launched her photography
business called Hope + Salt
Over the few months, we shared so much about ourselves, both with our pregnancies and our lives. The emails went from formal to casual, from a few times a week, to a few times a day. Then we decided that texting was necessary for those moments when we just HAD to tell someone something. I think now we text at least 20 times a day! Our friendship has grown. We are so similar, yet different. It works for us. Kathleen found out the gender of her baby and we did not. We shared joys, fears, photography and baby names. The openness of our friendship resulted in being very close friends, very fast.
Kathleen: Don’t forget about our love of Costco! How many times have we competed to see who could get in and out the fastest, or spend the most money. Don’t tell our husbands!
Kathleen and her family in Charleston, photographed by me.
On Christmas night, I woke up in labor. As my husband and I were on the way to the hospital to have the baby, I emailed Kathleen to let her know that we were on our way to meet our baby. We had a c-section at 2:30am on December 26th and welcomed a sweet girl, Mabry. 10 days later, I got an email from Kathleen saying she had the baby at home during a terrible ice storm and welcomed a sweet boy named Todd. Very different experiences, but the same none the less.
Kathleen: That was a fun time for us. So much joy in a few short days.
We utilized Facetime to “meet” each other’s babies and hear each others voices. That was also to really check each other out a bit, as Kathleen and her family decided that they would come to Charleston that summer to meet us and vacation. She took a risk…and it turned out to be a wonderful week together. Our families got along amazingly well. She opened that door the first time and it was like seeing someone you knew for your whole life. Our husbands got along so well! The children, all 7 of them, were fast friends too and what a week it was! Every day we were together.
Kathleen: I will never forget that trip as long as I live. We could hardly wait to get together with all of you everyday. My kids are convinced that your kids are cousins by the way. It’s the cutest thing. I’m just going to run with that. Family is forever.
Our crew! Photographed by Kathleen
Naturally on this vacation, there was photography. I admire Kathleen’s work so much that I insisted that she take some pictures of my family and I would do the same for her. Her approach is a little different than mine, and I loved the way she saw my family. The images she gave me are some of my favorites to this day. I took them to Boone Hall Plantation and took their family pictures. We also handed our cameras over to our husband to get pictures of us together. There aren’t many, a photographer can’t let go of our cameras for long! Ha.
Kathleen and I taken by Kathleen’s husband. Yes, children are running around us constantly!
Fast forward to today. We text every day. We share images that we have taken recently, ask for and accept criticism from each other and encourage each other to grow in our photography. We tell stories of our children, listen to each other have crazy days, amazing moments, lost teeth, sick family members, bumps and bruises and joyful moments. We talk about the next time we will see each other. Kathleen and her family lives approximately 938 miles from me. 938 miles is a long way. However, this friendship is just a short distance away in my heart. We are now planning our next visit together this summer. We are literally counting down the days.
Kathleen: You’ve encouraged me so much lately. Pushing me to open up and share my work more. Thank you for that.
Kathleen’s oldest, Erik, taken by me.
I know that I will be friends with Kathleen for all of my days. I know that our families will go through so much over the years and we will be right there listening to each other along the way. So, for this friendship, I have to thank Clickin Moms for introducing me to one of my best friends. You have no idea how much it has meant to me.
My older daughter, photographed by Kathleen
Kathleen: Sniff, sniff. I feel the same way. You’re one of a kind, Molly. I’m so happy we were thrown together by luck of the draw.
We were destined to be friends. He made it that way and I am a better person for it.