This month, we get a peek inside the home of an Oklahoma City metro photographer you’ve seen a lot in MetroFamily Magazine lately. Emily Hart is a mom of two with an infectious smile, a creative eye and passion for simple living.
In addition to shooting many of the magazine’s 2015 covers (some even inside her own Edmond home!), Emily’s work has been featured in other publications like HGTV Magazine and websites like Style Me Pretty Living and Design Mom.
Emily lives with her husband Josh and kids, 12-year-old son Blake and 5-year-old son Luke. Their home was built in 1936 and they’ve lived there a year and a half. She affectionately recalls the lyrics “love grows best in little houses” from Doug Stone’s old country tune “Little Houses” when she thinks of home.
We share this month what makes this mom of two tick and get an inside look at how she and her husband make their home a place where her kids can always be themselves, even if it means squeezing work in between dance parties with her two sons and stepping on Legos every day despite trying to keep a tidy home.
MFM: A hot topic concerning motherhood is balance. What are your thoughts on balancing everything?
EH: It’s harder than ever to get pulled in every direction and to feel like you have to do everything. It’s not realistic for us, we set a strict limit on activities. We choose a slower way of life. Having kids made it easier to do that. There are so many moments when all I can do is feel thankful. There are many days where it’s not all happiness and roses but kids just remind you to be thankful. Take every day to be really grateful and other things just kind of lose importance.
MFM: What have you learned from your kids?
EH: Selflessness. That unconditional love does exist. They’ve taught me to see the world again through the eyes of a child. They’ve reminded me that everyone has good and bad parts. They have bad parts but I still love every part of them.
MFM: Has motherhood been what you expected it would be?
EH: Motherhood has turned out to be a lot different than what I thought. I never imagined the 24-hour job it would be. Like everything, there’s a risk and a reward. But the stakes are so high in parenting. The reward is so big you don’t even think it could be possible.
It’s made my faith so much stronger. I can see myself the way I feel about my kids and it just makes everything more real. There’s a constant fear of being responsible for someone else. When Blake was a baby I was so fearful. Then I suddenly had a moment of realization that I can’t control everything. I can do my best to make sure he’s always safe but God has put them in my care and I have to trust that whatever happens, God is in control and it will be okay. What a feeling of relief when I realized there is sovereignty and a plan that God has for my kids. I pray a lot about achieving that peace. I pray God watches over them and keeps them safe every day because otherwise it would be so easy to just go off that cliff of worry.
MFM: Your oldest son is 12 now. What’s been your favorite age to parent?
EH: I love 5. They still have that little “toddlerness” about them but they also have this sense of wonder and take everything so literally that it just cracks you up. The conversations every day are just too cute because they haven’t really wised up to the world yet.
MFM: What’s a typical day like at your house?
EH: There is no typical day, but they all start a little bit the same. I wake Blake up and make coffee. I check emails and get started on some work while Blake gets ready and then I watch him start his bike ride to school. Then I wake Luke up and get him ready for school. When he’s at school, I can go work out, get groceries, edit or answer emails, mail prints, do laundry or get other little stuff done. When the kids get home, we do some chores. Luke usually plays outside for a while. Blake is working on building a computer right now so his spare time goes to that. On a perfect day, we’re all around the table having dinner together but that doesn’t always happen.
We like to make time to snuggle on the couch in the evenings. We like to watch “The Middle” together. Sometimes I’ll get some work done while Josh plays music on YouTube and beat boxes with the boys. They just like to be silly so we will play music or sing and then it’s bedtime.
MFM: Do you practice anything at home you inherited from your own upbringing?
EH: Family dinner and laughter. I got that influence from my house growing up. You just have to joke and laugh all the time. Josh likes to give Blake jobs around the house. That’s something that was important to him growing up. Just helping out with the yard and things like that can really teach him how to be a man.
One intentional thing we did was live in a small home. The house isn’t tiny but it’s smaller than most. We all share a bathroom and the boys share a bedroom. It’s kept our family close. It’s been really sweet to watch their relationship grow in sharing a space. Blake reads to Luke every night and they really are forced to get along almost because of proximity. It works for us.
MFM: Of everything you want at home, what’s the most important?
EH: Of course I want things to be clean and nice. With boys that seems almost impossible. Every day I step on a Lego. But mostly, I want everyone to feel safe and loved at home. I want them to never feel like they can’t be themselves. I want their friends to be comfortable at our house, too.
MFM: What does it mean to be a mom?
EH: To me, it means trusting the big picture and finding contentment in the every day. It means having an open heart and patience in abundance, along with the willingness to forgive myself when those things don’t come easy. It also means lots and lots of love and laughter, which is the best part by far!
This interview has been edited for style and clarity. To learn more about Emily, visit ninaandbphotography.com.