Columbus GA Photographer | Ker-Fox Photography: I Just Had to Let It Go….


This blog post, I hope, will serve several purposes: Inform, purge some long overdue struggles, hold myself accountable, and hopefully give hope to other self employed mommas out there trying to keep it all together. The crux, I won’t be taking on any new clients for at least 6 months, but maybe even a year. Exciting reason #1: We’re thinking about extending our family by 1 sometime soon (in the next year). So I want to spend as much time with my family of 3 right now, specially loving on my nearly 2 year old while she still has only child privileges. She is growing so quickly and these last two years of working and being a mom have a been a beautiful blessing, but man what I would give the able to go back in time and hold her those long nights instead of being up editing in the wee morning hours.

Another reason, I long to be a better mom and wife… No matter how together it may seem from the outside, being a working mom is no joke…. Add onto that being self employed (I know that may seem like a dream, being your own boss, but it’s SUCH a challenge of self discipline).

Here comes some self confessing mush…. The guilt of being a working mom has consumed me. The days on end of laundry piling up, or eating crap food because another day went by without making it to the grocery store. Or the guilt of a wife, passing my husband like strangers in the night. He works well over 40 hours a week, comes home late then I find myself migrating upstairs to edit, late into the night, because its the one time of day I think the clearest. My mom and wife duties are put to bed and I can finally “work”. Bless my sweet husband, the rationale is so warped, I can put off house work because I know he will forgive me. But professionally, you can’t put off your clients, nor can you burden them with your personal dealings {Cue Elton John’s circle of life….}

I want to actually put my family first instead of constantly trying to convince myself that I have it all together. Just last weekend and close friend of mine said something along these lines to me, “I am so proud of you, you’re such an inspiration to me. You’re an artist and a working mom and doing it successfully.” At first I must say I reveled in the compliment. That moment was fleeting, then the shame set in. I felt like such a fraud. It. Is. A. Struggle…. And I by no means am doing it successfully. Either I’m rocking out my business and my poor husband is getting the shaft at home, or the guilt consumes me so I take some time off, then the stress of looming deadlines and seeing my edit schedule grow longer and later.

I am a driven person, highly motivated, and über competitive (maybe to my detriment), all of which have helped me grow a successful business…. Yet all of which I feel keep me from being the wife and mom I desire, and know I can be.

It’s taken over a year to convince myself that taking a year off isn’t quitting. Or that I might not get to the same level of success again. What it finally took, was giving it over to God. Trusting in my heart that I’m listening to Him. Finally.

I have prayed, oh how I have prayed, buried my head in hands, cried (and I mean the ugly cry), begged for balance… To make this work, to find happiness in both work and family. To no avail. What I realized I was praying for, was the hope that God would give me exactly what I wanted, trying to fix what I thought was the problem. I would get so frustrated… “I’m listening God!!”

I found myself negotiating with God. “I’ll do less weddings a year.” Fast forward 6 months, “Ok, ok I won’t do anymore weddings.” Yadda yadda. This was my search for balance, I thought that was what God was teaching me. Turns out, He was whittling me down, stripping me to my weakest moment… To the point where I had to listen, and in absolute clarity finally heard. My foundations were crumbling… I started back to work when Finley was 4 months old, I tried to carry on my business just as I had before she was born. Impossible. I had built my business and so many other facets of my life these last 2 years on an unreliable foundation. So this next year will be a new blueprint for a more solid foundation. I do believe I can have my job, be a fantastic mom and devoted wife. I’ve just got to re-learn it from the ground up and in order to do so I have to step away for a bit, so I can see more clearly the big picture. I may lose a couple of you here in this last part, but its my testimony if you will, my moment where it all made sense.

Let me paint a picture for you….
On my way to take Finley to pre-school, like so many other days, nothing out of the ordinary…
I’m listening to Pandora in my car, John Lennon’s Watching the Wheels is playing. I look in my rear view mirror and see Finns there, smiling, looking like such a big girl. In that moment I felt God… I didn’t hear him, literally, but I saw the clarity, the answer if you will of all these months of prayer, frustration, confusion, etc. The reason I think it was a “God Thing”: I had several simultaneous thoughts in the span of a few seconds. I thought of how quickly she’s growing, I had an image of her as a 6 pound burrito coming home from the hospital, I heard the lyrics of the song playing: {I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round…. I just had to let it go} I realized I wanted to turn the car around, go home and cuddle with my baby (while I still can!), I felt peace about hanging up my camera for a while…. I physically felt peace. I can only imagine now, that’s what Gods grace feels like. There at the red light I sat crying, totally overwhelmed. Again, this all happened in a matter of 3-4 seconds. Holy. Moly. Batman. What an epiphany.

The lyrics of that song resonated so deeply, piercing my convictions… John Lennon walked away from music for 6 years to focus on being a better father to his son. Hello! If John Lennon could walk away from music and see how important it was to raise his child, I think I can step away from photography for a bit and be ok!

So here I am writing this blog. Being transparent as can be. I tip my cap to the working mommas out there. I gave it a good go for 2 years now… I’ll be back most definitely, but in the meantime, you can find me in my pj’s watching some Sesame Street, cutting the crust off of PB&J’s and loving every moment.

***For all my current clients fear not… if you have booked your baby’s first year with me I will see that through the remainder of your child’s year. And for my clients with regular portrait sessions I will still be shooting your sessions as well, so long as we have already booked a date. I just won’t be taking on new clients as I phase out work for this break.***

  1. Erin Leigh Kirksey says:

    I love you Neely. Such a sweet blog. Finley will love to read this one day.

  2. brooke whitis says:

    Speaking my heart, right there. I think at the end of the day, God will look at our legacy and although I want my legacy to be “success”, I MUCH MORE want my legacy to be my boys who I have poured my heart into….and taught about God and life…so bravo friend. It’s not the right choice for everyone, but I always think that I will never look back and think, “Wow, I wish I would have made more money” or “I wish I would have worked”….I really think I will look back and think, “i’m so glad I spent that time with my boys”. Praying for you as you navigate through this, and hoping we can hang out! 🙂

  3. Lauren van Zyl says:

    Hey Neels. This can’t have been an easy decision for you, but its taken such strength and I don’t think you will ever regret it! Well done on finding the silence and faith to not only hear God but to trust Him and the plans He has for you. Sending lots of love to you guys. Love La xxx.

  4. Teresa W Mason says:

    This is such a beautiful entry. I love how any moment can be a “God moment” and how He can use anything to reach us, especially if we’re reaching for Him. May your peace continue as you obey the desires of your heart.

  5. Caroline says:

    Stepping back from a really good thing to enjoy an even better thing – nothing wrong with that. And to think – with such precious subjects, it’s not like you’ll be out of practice when you do decide to go back into more full time work. I suspect finding a better balance at home will only make your products and your work that much better (if that’s even possible). So those few clients that snag you in your spare moments – they are lucky, lucky people.

  6. Suzanne Hughston says:

    It is so hard and I am so proud of you and respect you for figuring this out so early.

  7. Debbie Smith says:

    This made me cry – so proud of you. Those two at your house are the most precious things on earth – Don’t miss a minute……Good for you! Your prayers – your desire to let God guide you – What a blessing!

  8. Marian Mendenhall says:

    Though I’m neither a parent or wife, I understand this sentiment entirely. Investing your time in your professional endeavors ( especially when it’s you launching your startup business) can definitely keep you from nurturing those relationships in your life that matter most. Needless to say, keeping that momentum rolling through thick and thin is such as delicate task. It’s great that you are self aware and are listening to those natural boundaries, stepping back can be so hard for so many people. I commend you on your humble efforts to seek for balance in the chaos.

  9. Molly says: On so many levels. Listening to God. Trusting Him. Cuddle that girl. Love your husband. Oh, Neely. As a fellow wife and mama, as your friend- I’m so proud.

  10. Dawn M Matthews says:

    Wow Neely – this is so touching. I am proud of you! You are a wonderful artist and that will not go away. Time is a precious commodity. Enjoy your family!

  11. Frankie Casper says:

    I have so much respect for you. Being a working mom is hard. I’m blessed to say that as a teacher Summer Vacations give me time to keep Eden home with me. Our kids do grow up fast. Eden turned 6 on Sunday and I just don’t know where the time went. Good luck and God bless.

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Specializing in Birth, Underwater, & Family Documentary