Mariliana Arvelo | Another Mother Her Way

Mariliana Arvelo is a sweet, spirited creative who I was thrilled to be introduced to through an equally gorgeous mutual friend.  She had her daughter, Anaya, while growing her children's photography business, Stylish & Hip Kids Photography, in New York. Since having Anaya, she's found a rhythm and team that actually keeps her more connected to her work than before while present at home for a lovely half of the week. Mariliana is an open and encouraging book as she writes below about what grew in her business when met with the new responsibility of motherhood and her fun village as an ex pat in New York. 

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Q  HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?

I’ve changed in lots of ways. One example is with work. I’ve been photographing kids through my company Stylish & Hip Kids Photography. But since my daughter was born, I connect on a deeper level with the moms and families I photograph. This allows me to be even more playful with the kids, and really capture the essence of the family. I also need to be a lot more organized with my time to be able to keep doing my other photography work that I also love. Food + Kids fashion!

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Q  WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD?  WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?

There is a freedom that you instantly lose when you become a mother. You exchange it for this huge responsibility to keep a tiny human being alive. As my daughter has grown older though, the job of being a mom has expanded and become more interesting.

We’ve had the chance to teach values like compassion, kindness, love, and having respect for people. I do believe my daughter was born with her own sensibility and personality, but it’s been interesting to explore the influences we have on how she interacts with the world and experiences joy, fulfillment, and accomplishment.

So now, it’s not as easy to pack my the suitcase and camera and travel the world. We also don’t go out like we used to. But we’re learning how to implement daily routines and building a fun and supportive home-life full of community. We’re also slowly learning how to go out and have our own life away from our daughter.

When I was pregnant and right after my daughter was born, I couldn’t be at all the photo sessions for Stylish & Hip Kids or my other lifestyle work. I’ve always had other photographers who I’ve teamed up with, but becoming a mother pushed me to expand that team. It was a process to find the right people who I can trust create not only the quality of images I want, but also to provide the type of experience we hope to provide families, but now I’ve grown a great team. The constraints placed on me by motherhood turned out to be the push I needed to think bigger for my photography company.

Q  DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS.  WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?

Loving, fun and adventurous.

I want to be that mom who is true to herself and present in the moment. That mom who has fun with silly things and who is curious about the world and people. I want to be a mom that provides a safe and positive environment for my family.

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Q  HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?

I read and cook. We’ve been really enjoying these weekly batch cooking plans we get from Chloé Sucrée, a mom and cook out of Barcelona. We’re learning to balance time with eating inspired meals. We’re learning to shop once a week, rather than every day at the corner grocery, and trying to create less waste. It’s a lot of prep on Sunday, but then fun and easy food through the week.

I love going out with my friends to see shows at BAM, and recently since my daughter started finally sleeping through the night in her own room, my husband and I have been able to go out to dinner or dancing.  

Delicious food and wine are faves. We have people over for dinner regularly on the weekends. Her first year was one of our most social years. We hosted dinner parties with friends every weekend for a good while. We found that since we were inside all the time, and our daughter was primarily stationary, it was easy to cook and have people over.

When I get time to meditate by myself in the morning, it’s amazing. And I’m always looking for new locations and walls for photo shoots, so I enjoy my opportunities to walk around the city by myself.

Q  EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE.  WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?

I think many transplants to NYC have felt that community can be hard to bring together, or they’ve felt that common complaint about how we need to plan weeks in advance to see our friends. We’ve definitely felt those sentiments. But we’ve also been blessed to develop rich friendships like no other place we’ve lived.

I often feel that my favorite thing about NYC are the people we’ve found. Our community consists of friends we’ve made since we moved to NYC 11 years ago, friends we’ve had since childhood, friends we’ve met through becoming parents, and family.

Additionally, we have a great nanny that helps us two days a week, my husband takes care of our daughter on the weekends when I have photoshoots, we have cousins who take her in the evening so we can go out, grandparents who come and stay, and I have other friends with kids the same age who are also freelancers or self-employed. We’re often able to help each other. One watches the babies, while the other has some time to work in the computer. It’s challenging but fun.

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Q  WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?

I want to let go of trying to make things  “perfect”, and work from where we’re at. We can always improve, but it can also be easy to take for granted what what we’ve got going for us.

And I want to practice yoga regularly.