This month, we’re celebrating our third annual Five Fascinating Moms feature in Pregnancy & Newborn. The common thread of motherhood connects them—and us—on our journeys through pregnancy and parenthood. As you read the stories of these remarkable moms, it is our hope that you will not feel inconsequential or underachieving but rather supported by a community of strong and beautiful women, like yourself, and empowered to be the best mom you can be.
Joy Prouty describes herself as a big dreamer, sunshine chaser and wanderer who thrives on adventure and a good creative project. A wife to one and mother to four who spent half of last year traveling the country with her family in a 1950’s Spartanette trailer, Prouty seems to fit her self-description well. The mama and her husband, both photographers by trade, decided to take to the road in an effort to simplify their lives and spend more time with their children, the youngest of whom was 3 months old at the time. “We planned for several months how to make it all work financially and logistically,” Prouty recalls. “Then, in the span of 30 days, we sold our home, sold all our nonessential possessions, renovated the trailer so it was functional for our family of six and hit the road!”
As they toured the country, visiting national parks, collecting rocks and watching lightning storms outside their windows, the homeschooling family explored nature firsthand instead of just reading about it in books. “It was the most spectacular experience,” says Prouty. “We were living in 125 square feet, so it was surely difficult at times, but we grew closer than ever as a family.” These days, the family lives on a three-acre homestead in Northern Washington with two cats and 24 chickens, and they hope to add a few dairy goats soon. “Before we began our traveling, we knew we wanted to end up on some land, away from busy streets and city life,” Prouty says.
And their “little slice of heaven in the Pacific Northwest” is exactly that. There, they continue to practice the slower pace of life they adopted on the road. “We have been very intentional about keeping our expenses much lower than we did when we were living in Southern California, which means we don’t have to work as furiously as we did before and can be with the children a good amount of the time,” she shares. “We lived a life of go-go-go previously and felt so worn down by that with no energy left at the end of the day for quality time. We are seeing firsthand what a blessing it is to choose a simple life.”
Not everything has slowed down, though. Prouty continues to work as a professional photographer, shooting families, weddings and celebrities, and she’s also begun mentor-ing and leading workshops for budding female photographers. However, the bulk of her photos continue to be of her own little ones, who she captures beautifully in their everyday moments, making even the mundane seems magical.
Notes Prouty, “I am always looking for the bliss in our days. I want to have those images as keepsakes for my children once they are grown.” But before you scroll through the talented photographer’s popular Instagram feed (@joyprouty) and find yourself feeling envious, Prouty is quick to remind you that no one’s life, including hers, is perfect.“I think every mother, if she is honest with herself, feels like she is sinking at times, and I am very vulnerable about sharing my daily feelings on what being in the trenches of motherhood feels like to me through the words that accompany my photographs,” she says.
Still the good times tend to overshadow the bad. “I view my Instagram feed as a daily visual list of things I am grateful for,” explains Prouty. And indeed, she has much to be grateful for. “Motherhood is much more exhausting, beautiful, difficult, hilarious and soul-filling than I ever could have possibly imagined,” she says. “I thought being a mother would make me feel fulfilled … What I didn’t expect was that I would find so much contentment in the way my children have challenged me to become better for them.”
Meet Joy Prouty.
Residence: Bellingham, Washington
Children: Gracie (7), Brandon (5), Clementine (2), Mabel (1)
Favorite place: A field of flowers
On her bucket list: See the Aurora Borealis in Alaska
Strangest pregnancy craving: Barbecue ribs and lemon meringue pie