I’ve always loved Kelsey and Joe for more than the fact that they’re a really good time, and they have great taste in music and food and design. They are smart and opinionated. They are brave and have overcome things that a lot of people couldn’t have handled as well. So I was interested in the back story when Kelsey showed me their new tattoos. She and Joe gave me the most beautiful and personal answer about why they got these tattoos in this season of becoming a family. Here is their story, and then be sure to scroll through the whole post to see their beautiful daughter and the way that they look at her. I’ll start with the photo, and the story below it:
Joe and I have been talking about getting tattoos for as long as I can remember. We had a general idea of what the meaning of each tattoo would be but we let time inspire us.
As many of the women in my life, I have been faced with adversity in many phases of my journey. When Frances was born, as much joy and love she gave me, she had her challenges. The first 4-5 months were a struggle for both of us. Several hospitalizations, home health services, and multiple doctor visits due to feeding issues, her and I, with of course the active participation of Joe, persevered. She is a different baby today, which is reflected in these photographs, who worked hard to correct her issues on her own when many ignored one of her underlying issues. This tiny, amazing human persisted. I also persisted, not just in this example but throughout many in life. just like others.
I work in D.C. where things are very political, especially in my line of work. When I showed up for my first work trip since maternity leave, my boss gave me a bracelet with the quote “Nevertheless, she persisted.” and the sentiment that I, we, had been through a lot. And that was it. It was my sign. I didn’t just want it on a cuff, I wanted it on my body forever. While I know the quote was bread out of politics, it was my truth and more importantly, Frances’.
Just as Kelsey mentioned, I was waiting for inspiration. Little did I know that I already had it, Kelsey’s just gave me the nudge. My tattoo is comprised of three important dates.
My first date is my sobriety date. Sobriety for me was a journey, and still is to this day. I felt I owed it to myself and my family to remember the struggles in order to continue pushing forward. Seeing the date makes me proud and fortunate. Proud for obvious reasons, and fortunate because it was the first start to my wonderful new family.
My second date is our wedding date. Our wedding was nothing short of amazing. We decided to get married in our favorite town—Estes Park. In 2013, a few days prior to our celebration the “500 year flood” ruined the city and people’s lives. But, it decided to let us have our special moment on a special Friday with special people. It’s a time I’ll never forget. Right, Becca (wink, wink)?
Lastly (for now), my third day is Frances’ birth date, August 26, 2017. My life changed forever the moment I first looked her in the eyes. She’s my light. She makes me appreciate Kelsey that much more. She make me appreciate myself that much more. She’s brought our extended family closer together. She’s a game changer and playing with her one day in February finally put me into a position to get the tattoo. She completed my circle.
I like to look at the dates and think what could’ve been. Without one, the other two lose meaning. The path hits a roadblock and can’t tie it together. Without sobriety. I have no family. And without my family I don’t have Frances.
I photographed Cat and Brett’s wedding several years ago, so I was so excited to spend some time with them again and meet their two extraordinary daughters, Charlotte and Caroline. These girls have more sparkles in their eyes than the average kid, probably due to how loved they are. Thank you for sharing your family with me. Love you Iliffs.