Maria Lang photographer based in Calgary, Canada

You seem to be very close with your family, what are you doing on weekends? 

Our weekends are a time of nurture, it's a time where we can foster growth, and positive influence. Not only is it an opportunity to come together as a family but to also fulfill my role as a mother in a deeper capacity. Awareness of becoming a mother came to me unexpectedly, and with anyone that wasn't expecting, there was a lot of challenges I was facing. With uncertainty and a lack of knowledge on how to even be a mother, I sought out how to best provide the care that my future children would desperately need. Despite the obstacle of uncertainty, I came to the realization that my greatest challenge would be on how I would instill good values and a morale compass for my children to follow. This has helped me grow in ways not just by building relationships but a deeper understanding of myself included, pushing me along this journey of motherhood.

Being close with my family is very intentional for me, nurturing these relationships are something I seek earnestly. Weekends are cherished when it comes to my household, it provides plenty of time to strengthen those relationships. To learn, to work, to love, and come together as a family. Most often, our weekends are unplanned. We purposefully try not to schedule anything on the weekends. They are loosely structured and activities are done on a whim, I feel it’s one of the best ways to allow relationships to cultivate growth and strengthen bonds. Sometimes that means we are doing mundane tasks together and other times it means we are spontaneously driving out to spend the day in the mountains, hiking, having a picnic by a lake or simply exploring. We will always choose a day that involves nature and a sense of calm and quiet as opposed to being somewhere that feels busy and crowded - our weekdays are filled with enough of that.

You have three beautiful children, what does Sunday mean to them? How do they spend their time? 

My children have come to an understanding that Sunday is a day of spirituality in our home. We put technology aside and put an honest effort into connecting with each other as it’s important to us that we counter the negative trend of being pulled away from face to face (heart to heart) conversation. This means that our children often wake up on Sunday mornings with excitement knowing that chores, homework and errands won’t be part of their day but rather a Sunday where our home is filled with a gentle spirit and the sweet noise of laughter. Tiny footsteps from Eve can be heard as she meanders about, Emery running around with joy and happiness, and Aidan who moves about with a gentleness, deep in thought. 

I asked my children if they could choose one word that describes “Sunday” what would that be? Their response, "family". They know that this is a day devoted to being together. Sometimes they are engrossed in lessons and discussions we have planned, sometimes they are corralling about in the kitchen to prepare a meal (or dessert) together, and other times they are playing games with us, mostly silly ones that we made up. A favourite of ours is a game my kids have named “The Animal Game”. Each of us take turns pretending to be different animals and the rest of us try to guess what the person is. Aidan, my nine year old, I’ll never be able to guess what he’s pretending to be. While the rest of us are acting out bears, horses and snakes, he is mimicking Blobfishes, Lemurs and Aye-Aye’s and Nathan, my husband, will guess correctly 100% of the time. How?! This is how much time we spend together, in all of our love and silliness that we build a connection so strong as to interpret each others actions and thoughts. I hope to think that one day my children will see these simple and often ordinary days as beautiful moments of their childhood.

The perfect weekend, how do you imagine it?  

The perfect weekend is most often an escape outside of our city. Our first choice is always to head to the mountains. There’s something about packing up my family all snug in our vehicle that I love. The hour or two long drive allows us to communicate with each other as we make our journey, filled with interesting conversations and laughter. They bounce from one subject to the next and almost always includes a ramble of what we’re passing by and what we’re about to see next. Sometimes these conversations are led to quiet and sometimes there is more impatience in tone as we reach closer to our destination. I welcome it all. As soon as we arrive, we’re ready to explore. I find that when we are in a space that is so visually captivating, it opens the doors for gratitude and creates pathways for connections to form and conversations to ignite. These moments of being together as a family, the conversations, the learning, there is not one more or less important than the other. They are all significant to me. Sometimes we go back to places we’ve been before and other times we seek something new.

We often find ourselves either over prepared or underprepared. Last summer, there was a weekend when we set out to go hike in the mountains and it was definitely that of the latter. I’m not sure how we thought a 3 hour hike was a good idea and I’m not sure how we thought it would only take 3 hours. So 5 hours later we made it to the top of the trail. Surprisingly, the kids were in good spirits and even continued to go the extra kilometre that trailed around the lake. But then you realize that A) you didn't bring enough snacks and have to resort to splitting 2 granola bars 5 ways and B) the trek down still needed to be conquered. Well we stayed as long as we thought would be worth the time from just hiking 5 hours, even though I think in reality we all just wanted to get back to the car and drive to the nearest drive thru to inhale a burger or two. The amazing views were a good distraction but could only last so long and eventually we found ourselves running back down the trail, Eve on my back in the hiking carrier, Emery on Nathan’s shoulders and Aidan... thank you Aidan, my strong-willed and capable child, for being able to keep up with us! I think sometimes its the times that go wrong that are the most right, and that is what makes them the best moments to look back on.

Photography: Maria Lang @maria_lang