June 06, 2014

heart to heart: tahnee parsakia

Sometimes in life you meet people who completely understand you. Honest people. Brave mothers. The ones you can turn to for a good laugh when you're down, for a dose of reality when things seem cookie-cutter and perfect, or a kick in the pants to keep you on track. They're inspiring, and they're genuine - what you see is what you get. Tahnee is one of those mums.

We found each other through the online blogging community years ago, and since that day, even 9,670 miles apart (yes, I counted!) I've been lucky enough to call this gorgeous mama a true friend. Her words are important, and her story is real. I know you'll leave this chat feeling just as inspired as I did ~Kate

Tahnee Parsakia
mother, photographer  |  milk please mum  |  pictures by tahnee  |  @milkpleasemum

- - -
Tahnee Parsakia: Hello! Have I got the right time..?!

Kate De La Rosa: You sure do, lovely one! Alba has just passed out on me - doing the bed transfer and I'm good to go one second!

Tahnee Parsakia: Cool, will just go to the loo then.. ready when you are

Kate De La Rosa: Ok! I'm all set:) How are you?! Feels like it's been ages since we spoke!

Tahnee Parsakia: I KNOW! Why does life have to be so busy??

Kate De La Rosa: Tell me about it! I apologize if there is a bit of a delay with the messaging. How is that wonderful family of yours?

Tahnee Parsakia: No worries, you're probably getting it your end too. We are all well and healthy which is the most important thing! How about you? I cannot believe Alba is one already..!

Kate De La Rosa: It was a fast year! Seems to be getting faster with each child... crazy how that works. How old are your children now, Tahnee?

I have to agree, it absolutely does. I shudder to think how fast it goes beyond three children! Ruby is 6.5, Cole has just turned 5 and Eliot is 3.

Oh my goodness! Time is flying! That seems like the perfect gap in age between them... (but busy I'm sure!) Do you sneak some time away for yourself every now and then?

I wish I could say YES, REGULARLY! (caps necessary because that's how excited I would be about it..) Unfortunately most of my family live in a different state so we have never had a constant safety net of family to rely on, to take time away. In saying that, we have huge support from our family, and there is much travelling backwards and forwards, but we have never had that 'duck around the corner to see the folks' set up. But one day soon - we will! I tend to take time for myself when I can feel myself nearing a blow up.. which is absolutely not the best way to do it, but it's the only way we can manage so that's the way we do it. I am trying to be better.. old habits die hard I guess.

Having out-of-state family would be so tough for me! Did I ever tell you I'm renting the apartment directly above my mother-in-law? A blessing (and sometimes a curse haha!) the grass is always greener, isn't it? All we can do is learn from the next day. And the next. Seems a bit like the movie Groundhog Day sometimes, doesn't it? Is motherhood anything like you had expected?

Oh wow, that is very impressive! There is no.. er… nice way to respond to that with my own in-law circumstances.. ahem.. so I will just leave it there..! Motherhood is a lot like I had expected. I don't think I ever had any deluded ideas that it was all rainbows and sunshine. In the early days, it really is though - at least it was for me. I was blessed with happy babies who slept well and while Cole and I had some difficulty with breastfeeding in the beginning because he arrived a little early, it really did come naturally to me. It's only now that the kids are getting older and the baby days are behind us, that I am coming into unchartered waters with personalities and emotions overflowing - each very different, of course. Sometimes I forget how little they really are, and that's usually when I lose my way a bit.. but then there is always tomorrow - like you said - and I can do better when the sun rises.

I love your honest take on mothering. It sure isn't rainbows all the time! More like banana in your hair, wee on the floor, spilt milk... you get the idea;) That beautiful take of yours really shines through in your photography. The little moments.

Oh Kate, I am laughing out loud! Really, nothing surprises me anymore! I read a funny article the other day, something like the 10 most disgusting things only a mother would do.. and yep, I had done every single one! I think it really is all about the little moments - because they are never-ending. And when you feel like it's Groundhog Day AGAIN, you have to look for the little things to keep you going some days..

What inspired you to pick the camera for the first time?

I don't really remember the first time I picked up a camera, but I assume it would have been similar to my kids asking for a go. My mum always had the camera out and they have boxes of photo albums from our childhood - we still laugh flicking through them now! Her love of capturing memories was passed on to all of us really. It was so normal to have a camera wherever we went.. and now I do the same. I always enjoyed it but never really LOVED it until we had the kids and had reason to have it out all the time. I was judged a lot as a kid, growing up in a small town where people loved to gossip, with a family that was well known because my grandfather was the mayor - people just love to talk, and assume things.. things can seem one way but really be the total opposite. And I think that has always stayed with me - in being honest. That's what I love the most about photography - no trickery or trying to emulate something that isn't there - I want the raw stuff, with all the emotion attached - whether it's happy, sad, mad..

I'm nodding along here and virtually fist-bumping you, mama. That's the good stuff. I see a lot of conflicting views in the blogging world about only portraying "what's good and beautiful" in life, rather than what's real (because let's face it, mother-guilt, yelling at the top of your lungs, saying "NO!" 50,000 x's is very real) just for the sake of painting a pretty picture. Why do you think there is this shift? Is it fear of judgement that holds people back from sharing online?

Ooooh a tricky one. I think yes and no. Motherhood is a tough gig. There is ample goodness in there but plenty of shitty parts too. Personally, when I visit blogs of other mothers it is always good to read about their tough times when they are strong enough to share it. Because we know we are all the same. It connects us on a level that only motherhood can. If you want to post pictures of perfectly clean children in your impeccably kept home, sipping hot cups of tea, then that's wonderful for you. But we know you're lying. Because since when do we EVER drink a hot cup of tea?!! The pretty stuff is just nicer to look at. And it will always be that way. I am sure that mothers who feel they are struggling, or not doing as good a job as so-and-so.. would find it really hard to be honest about the nitty gritty of motherhood. And I can appreciate that. I'm just not that mother. Some days are really crap and I lose my shit on a regular basis. So why hide it? Why pretend it hasn't happened? Many a post I have written about losing one's shit..

I hope that wasn't too harsh?! I think sometimes I can be too harsh.. but honest. Again with the honesty thing.. I've just got to run and pick Cole up from kindy! Be back in 15.. sorry!

It's perfect, truly. No judgements here:) Go ahead! I'm going to fold the washing that's been sitting on my kitchen table all day... ha!

Okay, back!

Yay! Going to try to pick up where I left off... let me see… yes, trust me - all those messy and crap days help us appreciate the good that we have. You really need all of it... the good, the bad, to truly give you that fulfilling feeling. Some lessons can only be learnt by forging through the motherhood trenches firsthand! Even when it doesn't seem like it at the time;) Are there any messy motherhood moments you've had that ended up uncovering a greater good?

Oh you put it SO perfectly! Indeed. I wholeheartedly agree (no pun intended). I apply that train of thought to life in general. A mistake is only a negative thing if you don't see the good hiding in there..Hmmm I have had plenty of messy motherhood moments! And I think the majority of them have taught me something about myself, rather than about my children. When I push too hard, or forget my way.. when I begin to shout just to be heard - it never works and yet I continue to do it - until I remember to walk away, take five, and come back with a new plan.. I wish the plan would stay the same and work every time - but it just doesn't! Of course it is that way when we are raising children who are constantly changing and growing every minute of the day. Sometimes it's so hard to keep up.

So incredibly hard. I've been guilty of taking things personally. Who takes things personally from a three year old?! Sofia and I bicker like sisters! And being gentle on yourself, remembering that you're not perfect and that we love and forgive and are blessed with countless new beginnings is so important. Taking time for yourself is so important. When you DO get those opportunities, what would be your ideal agenda for a bit of solo mumma time?

So true though. But when our whole world revolves around our kids, it's easy to do. Yes, we really are blessed. I try to remind myself as often as I can. When we are frustrated with each other, I try to think how it must feel for them.. they are learning so much so quickly, it has to be so hard for them to register everything.. and we adults have been doing it for so much longer - so the three year old always holds the trump card. As for my ideal agenda for solo mumma time.. my goodness I have never given it a thought! I think it would involve doing things slowly - whatever they may be. I happily sit alone at a cafe and drink my coffee while it was still hot! Mosey through some shops and maybe spoil myself with something. Go to the movies. I love going to the movies alone - most people find that weird but I just do! Just last week when my parents were in town, my mum and I went to the movies together at 10am on a Monday morning..! CRAZYTOWN! It really gave me a kick in the bum to take more time for myself. Sneaking off the movies by myself one evening a month once the kids are in bed should be on my calendar permanently 

You should go! Schedule it in right now! It's tough remembering we need to nourish ourselves first (mind, body, all of it...) before we can best help those around us. You know, just the entire rest of the world we're holding in our hands;) Mothers take on a lot. I've had one too many handful-of-cereal is my dinner nights to count at this point!

It's so true, isn't it? Happy mother = happy family but it's not always a simple equation to fulfill.

I'm so happy we've been able to chat! It's been ping-ponging blog comments and a few emails back and forth across the globe for a few years now, right?

Yes, it really has been years now! Hard to believe. Yours was one of the first blogs I really fell in love with - the way you wrote and the honest photos you shared. I had stuck you right up on this pedestal - and then we became friends - across the globe. I had to pinch myself. My little blog has brought so many wonderful people into my life. I never expected any of it. It has delivered the most beautiful surprises 

You are the sweetest mama on earth, you truly are. I was just gabbin' to Tam during our interview and had to squeal, "chatting with Tahnee now... I just love this woman!"  I feel so fortunate for the friendships I've made through this community. And for the stories that have been shared. During one of my darkest moments stuck in the 'comparison trap' online, I found such solace in your space, in your photography. You talked about keeping things real, keeping editing as close to what you see in real life as you can... that is what clicked for me. It was grounding. It reminded me I didn't need to spend hours bashing my head in at the computer desk trying to find my editing style or creating these masterful works of art. The masterpiece was the moment. ... sorry for the long blob! This is about you!

Well now you're just making me teary! It really is the ultimate compliment when good things are said by those we respect the most. The old comparison trap is such a slippery slope.. I think the whole judgement thing growing up has served me well into adulthood. We are all different and unique - with unique talents to share. Just because you don't do something the same way someone else does, doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. We're all MEANT to be different - not carbon copies!

I want to bother you for one last question. We've talked about some of the bad, the messy, the wee on the floor... but what's a moment you've been really proud of lately?

Proud parenting moments are just the best - aren't they?! It's a pat on the back to tell you you're doing okay. For the last little while Eliot  has really been into saying goodbye to Ruby and Cole when they leave for school and kindy. He just understands the routine now. He will stop whatever he's playing with and walk over with arms open wide and say (in his sing song voice) 'Bye Ru-uby. Have a good day at school!' - it just melts your heart. Something a little more up the achievement scale was Ruby's recent mid-semester review with her teacher. She commented on what a brilliant vocabulary she has and how she is continually surprising her with new words, beyond her years, which in turn is really helping her be the great little reader she is. I almost cried right there and then - you know, sitting at the tiny table on the tiny grade 1 chair with my knees up near my chin?! We never babied the kids with their vocabulary, we always spoke to them like adults and it makes me proud that it's helping them in their education journey.

What wonderful achievements for Ruby - and oh, that sweet, sweet Eliot of yours! It's moments like these that remind you that maybe you've been doing this whole parenting gig right the whole time after all! It took me a long time to realize that it wasn't this step-by-step developmental ladder I had to follow, but instead more like a haphazard connect-the-dot that didn't make sense until I got to the end. Trusting in that is a lot easier said than done!

Oh yes - I am ALL for the haphazard connect-the-dot that didn't make sense until I got to the end technique! Is that what they call them? Parenting TECHNIQUES. {insert eye roll} We're all making it up as we go along, the ever changing 'plan' that is right for our little tribe, right at that moment in time. I'm very okay with that parenting technique.

You're a wise woman. Thank you so, so much for taking the time out of your day to chat. Your words are so important to share at Wholehearted. Wishing I could join you for a HOT cup of coffee sometime!

Oh no - thankYOU! This is has been so fun, in between kindy pick up and making lasagne for dinner! You know I am so going to be in Chicago one day - when I get booked for an international wedding... you gotta put it out there   And yes, most definitely, there will be many HOT cups of coffee!

Much love to you and your beautiful brood xx

And the same to yours. I better read about you finally getting to that solo movie ;)


All photos by:  Tahnee Parsakia


  1. Loved this interview. Two beautiful ladies telling us honestly how tough but how wonderful being a mother can be:) xx

  2. Such a great interview Kate, I'm fairly new to Tahnee's blog and instagram feed, its lovely to get to know a little bit more about her x