“What do you do all day?”

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Some of the most beloved and lasting bodies of photographic work are based on the great American road trip.  Robert Frank’s The Americans, Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects, Stephen Shore’s American Surfaces, all took these men across our country in a car, with camera in hand, to find the essence of America. 

I too have the wanderlust to get in a car and discover new places and people; to have adventures and photograph them, but I have three kids and I’m not going anywhere except to drive my kids to school, then after school classes, to the market, pharmacy and gas station.  I am a mother and a wife and I cannot find refuge in the road, without weeks of planning, and a tremendous amount of guilt.  The freedom of the road trip that these men experienced it is not available to me.  

Ironically, my entire day is a road trip, most of it spent in the car, with brief stops and strange encounters,  So, I’ll photograph that.  But does anyone want to see to see my every day life?  Even my husband asks me, with some disdain in  his voice, “what do you do all day?” I am first outraged at the question, and then unable to answer.  I know I was busy.  I know I am exhausted, and I didn’t get everything done, but my daily routines blur into each other like driving along route 36 through the prairie states; one long stretch of nothingness.  My occupation as a stay at home mother is the most important job in the world, I am told, but the quotidian tasks that make up the job aren’t valued by society.

Very little of my day is new and surprising, but that doesn’t preclude it from being of value.  While Frank, and Sternfeld, and Shore ran a gloved finger across the surface of America, I can take the gloves off and dig deep.  I will photograph my own daily road trip, and see what I find.  There has to be more to the things I see so often that I almost can’t see them any more.  Perhaps the camera will help me see them again, and value each act anew.

do not wish to make a vast statement about the essence of this country.  I am one American and this is the story of my life, and what I do all day.

If you want to see more of what I do all day, look at my blog. It’s a partial accounting of what I do.