Mothers are some of the busiest people we know. Often, their time is structured around naps, play dates, appointments, practices, keeping the house a home and somewhere in there finding time for themselves. This dedication has always been admirable but the task of being responsible for raising young minds and hearts to walk tall in this crazy world is perhaps the most impressive. There is a powerful energy and influence in the maternal love of a mother. Something that you can’t get from school; a love is crucial in developing young learners and leaders. In this series photographer Lauren Crew salutes the mothers redefining women’s leadership by way of motherhood. Happy Mother’s Day!

CENTERPIECE is a series of photos of mothers and their children that shines a light on the women behind the sometimes thankless job of raising children; it is an ode to motherhood. My mother was the center of my universe. She showed me how to be a loving, responsible, and conscious woman. Her acceptance and attention gave me the courage to seek my passions and keep an open mind. Even though she is no longer physically here, her mothering keeps me connected and deeply grounded. I created this series to celebrate a pivotal fork in the road of my journey with my mother and shine a much needed light on all of the influential mothers who continue to surround me.

I turned 36 this April – this is significant because it marks more time living without my mother than with her.. She died when I was 18. For as much as that fact is jarring, it is equally beautiful; the strength I have built since losing her comes with a contagious excitement for what lies ahead. This series stems from my mother’s influence yet also plays as an exploration into my curiosity and respect for the women around me who are influencing and developing the next generation of leaders. I am surrounded by strong and busy women. Important not to add to the stress of their already overbooked schedules, I chose to use instant photography to save them time. I also value the imperfections and fine art quality that this film embodies and thought it would be a nice touch for such esteemed subjects.

“It’s so admirable and difficult. Raising a child to be a loving, responsible and socially-conscious individual is an underrated profession.”

“It’s really hard to watch your kids all day, keep them entertained, fed, diapered, rested – and keep yourself sane. Who can read the same story seven times in a row day after day?!”

“I guess I just kind of feel like when someone asks “what do you do” someone should say “I am a mother” and that be a solid enough answer.”

I couldn’t agree more. I am shocked when I hear women downplay “staying at home with the kids” as if it is not significant. I can’t help but wonder why motherhood is not looked at as a profession in our society. These questions lead me to focus on the intricacies of the day-to-day–what moms value in their day and what they wish they were doing better.

“I like when I am taking things slow with the kids and really just observing them and letting them take their time. When I am patient and relaxed they are as well, and I get to see what they are interested in. I try to live in the moment, but it’s hard when my brain is thinking about a million things.”

“I love playing with my son and seeing him blossom. I love our hugs and kisses. I also like my glass of wine:)” “I wish I did not run out of steam by bedtime each day.”

“I really love and value our morning ritual together.”

“I wish I was more present and patient as a mom.”

I don’t have any children yet somehow I’m always around them. Until recently, I was unsure if I even wanted kids. These uncertain times make me fearful of raising a child. However, the more I experience life as “Auntie Lo-Lo”, the more I have considered having a family. Motherhood offers us the opportunity to bring kind people into this world. Given all that has happened since the 2016 election of Donald Trump, I wanted to know how mothers were feeling from this shift in frequency and how or if that affected their parenting.

“Everything has changed. It has been important to me as a mother to discuss character and positive character traits with my children. It just seems so important to me to raise people who are good and open.”

“My son needs to be crystal clear about how his black and brown peers and community is feeling and recognize his white skin privilege within it all and why it is important now more than ever to develop skills to be a critical thinker and a very strong ally and speak truth to power.”

“I come from a family of activists and was raised going to marches and being conscious of what goes on in the world. I just want my kids to understand their privileges and to want to fight for what is right like I have wanted to do, hopefully I continue to pass down the activism spirit.”

“Since the election I have a more intense feeling that I need to protect my daughter and to prepare her for the realities of the world we’re living in.”

“I feel more vulnerable not just for my family but for all babies/new mommies and children. It’s clear this administration does not care or is clueless (probably both) about early childhood development. I haven’t really changed my philosophy on Motherhood. I’m just more resolute to raise my son with love, grace, and social responsibility.”

All of the mothers that I photographed have different circumstances; married, divorced, full-time jobs, freelance, some with more support than others, etc. Despite these differences, all of the women shared a common respect for one another; only a mom knows what a mom really does so when I asked if they took offense to the term “stay-at-home mom” I learned about a common and mutual understanding.

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