As a working mom, photographer Natalie McCain is no stranger to chasing the ever-elusive perfect work-life balance.
"I don't have an office to go to, so I get to stay home with my kids and spend more time with them than I would be able to if I had a 9 to 5 job," she says. "However, this makes it harder for me to stick to a schedule and I often feel like I'm struggling to find time to work and I end up staying up way later than I should catching up."
The stunning black-and-white portraits showcase working mothers posing with their children while confessing their own individual struggles in a very raw and honest way. And while the images are beautiful, the accompanying stories are sometimes tinged with sadness, with the common theme being how soon the women had to return to work after giving birth, and how little pay they received during their short maternity leave. "It shouldn't be so hard to stay home and bond with your child when you give birth," McCain said. "In the U.S. we don't have any guaranteed paid maternity leave. This needs to change!"
"I spent my entire first year of teaching battling my decision to stick with my career, or stay at home with my baby. It wasn't an easy decision. My husband is a police officer, so we definitely depend upon my income. We knew that if I stayed home, finances would be extremely tight."
"I am often so proud of how independent my children are. I believe a lot of this has to do with the fact that I am a working mom...Their independence has their down sides too. I sometimes feel like when I finally do have time to spend with my kids, we don't spend it together. It's as if the two of them have their own thing going, and they aren't quite sure how I fit into the mix."
"One of the problems of being a working mom is all the playgroups we miss out on. All the stay at home moms meet up every week at the mall or a playground to have playdates. I want to be a part of that world but very rarely are there weekend events. I have friends with little ones and we get to hang out, but I lack the ability to make new mom friends."
Despite how different all of the participants' stories were, McCain was able to find one common denominator: "They all have different occupations, different reasons for being a working mother," she said. "Yet they all have in common how much love they have for their children."
And it's the photographer's hope that the series will help other working moms feel more confident in their decisions, and maybe a little less alone."Being a working mom is a choice to some and to others it is necessity," she said. "No one should ever be judged for being a working mother or putting their children in daycare. What works for one family may not for another, and we should all lift each other up and support one another!"