A Morning with the Natters

 
Photographs by Julie Cate Styling by Emma Natter

Photographs by Julie Cate Styling by Emma Natter

I emailed Julie about doing this family shoot even before I talked to my husband, Michael, about it. My note to her was a little frantic and desperate as I tried to tell her what I wanted if it was possible, and whether she’d be in NYC anytime in the Fall. I can’t remember why the feeling washed over me so strongly that we needed to document the way our lives feel (more or less) right now. 

Maybe it’s because at the time I wrote that email, I was spending two weeks away from Michael and I had the kinds of nostalgic, longing, extra-loving feelings you have when you’re away from a spouse. Maybe it’s because I had spent the last nine months working long hours on my business and I was determined not to forget what it looked like when my little Arthur would come and wait in the doorway of my studio with his big blue eyes and a smile before closing the door on his tip-toes. But I think it was mostly because Michael and I had found a way of living our lives as a team that we hadn’t been able to find a model for before. 

All of our lives, Michael and I both studied carefully the men and women around us that we admired. Even in the families where the women were strong-willed (like me), she was almost always the full-time caretaker. Even in the families where the man really wanted to create a nurturing home atmosphere (like Michael), he was almost always the breadwinner. 

There were exceptions of course, but it was so ingrained in both of us that that was how our family needed to be that I often dismissed these exceptions. Instead, I told myself that even though I really wanted to make an impact both inside and outside of our home, I would need to do it some way outside of a career. 

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But when a series of events led us to a place where we were at rock bottom (among other things, I was depressed, Michael was depressed, and the job we had moved across the country for was turning Michael into a shell of who he was) we decided together that we would shift our focus to growing my career and my business. I just knew I could do it if I had the right support and the right mentors.

So Michael took the leap with me. He found ways to support me financially, emotionally, and physically (including creating delicious salads when I literally would’ve ordered pizza 4 nights a week for 9 months and turned into a giant whale). 

After a few months, we finally started to fall into a rhythm that was designed around our own strengths instead of dictated by traditional expectations. 

Because of that, we feel happy with the way we spend our days.

Julie wrote back quickly and told me she could do it. I told Michael and with just a little persuasion, he was in.

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I don’t want to pretend that we have it all figured out because I feel like we’re still in the middle of it. Maybe even the beginning. But I don’t know if we’ll ever not be in the middle of it. Taking these photos was a way for me to refuse to let this time be a blur. Accepting that even though I have my own insecurities about places that bulge too much on my body, I want this documented.

I want to remember how it feels to come out of my studio to eat lunch with Michael every day where we talk about all of the different possibilities of things we could do with our lives and our family and then plan what show we’ll watch after Arthur goes to bed.

I want to remember what it’s like to work in my studio where I create and serve in ways where I’m constantly learning and evaluating how my strengths can best serve my customers and clients.

I want to remember forever what it feels like to wake up to tip-toed steps near our bed, to turn over to see Arthur’s wide smile and tiny, outstretched arms. To pull him under the covers where we can laugh while we pretend we’re asleep and then pretend we’ve just woken up again and again and again.

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