Living Life with Open Hands

A busy mom’s advice for a life well lived

When Kristin Steingraber thought of motherhood, she never imagined herself as the mom of five children, all under the age of 6. Her days are full. Feeding, entertaining, educating and caring for her little ones leave her, at times, feeling exhausted. There are times when she questions her skills as a mother. Even still, it’s a life she wouldn’t trade for anything.

“I remember someone asking me in my early 20s, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’, and my instant response was ‘a wife and a mom,’” Kristin says, “My heartbeat has always been kids. I want to impact the next generation, and raising babies allows me to do that.”

In addition to being a wife and a busy mom, Kristin is also a professional photographer. Her specialty is families, stemming from her own childhood. She remembers her mom taking the time to create individual photo albums for each of her five children.

“They were beautifully put together and portrayed our early lives really well,” Kristin says. “But rarely was she in any of the pictures because she was always the one taking the photo. That impacted the way I wanted to do photography.”

Having such an active household is also a reason Kristin has a successful photography business. She understands families. Her family sessions are real, raw and sometimes even messy, capturing family members in the midst of their daily lives. Her photographs might show a posed portrait of a family, but they also show families in the kitchen prepping meals or baking cookies. They show them going on hikes and playing in the backyard.

“It’s the daily life that I like to photograph,” she says. “We’re born for connection, and I like to capture families connecting the way they do daily.”

Kristin and her husband, Sam, also operate a video production business. Sam started out as Kristin’s second camera, and they quickly realized that they could offer another component to their business with video. Since then, Kristin has scaled back her photography to be at home while Sam has expanded the videography business. His flexible schedule allows him to partner with Kristin in the caring and entertaining of the children. 

“Sam always had a heart for adoption,” Kristin continues. “God asked us to take care of the widows and orphans and he’s always believed that. When we married, that became my heart too.”

In the nine years they’ve been married, Kristin and Sam have fostered several children. When their first son, Potter, was just a year old, the Steingrabers took in a foster baby, and just year later, their daughter, Josiejay, was born. Another year passed and their foster son’s younger brother joined them. After that, their youngest daughter, Henrietta, was born. Legally adopting their two foster children, Kristin and Sam became the parents of five children ranging in age from newborn to 4 years old. Today the children and their ages are: Potter, 5, Aaron, 4, Josiejay, 3, Albie, 2, and Henrietta, 1.

“It takes a lot of energy,” Kristin says with a laugh. “We need God daily because parenting is the hardest thing we do.”

The timing might not have been how the Steingrabers planned their family, but with the attitude of always having open hands, the couple didn’t even question the decision to adopt both boys. 

“It’s a lot! I have two in diapers, and someone is always needing something,” Kristin says. “But I’m living out my desire as a mom by providing a home where our children will grow and thrive and always feel safe and loved.”

To an observer, it would appear that Kristin has motherhood down. As she interacts with her children, she’s patient, tender and loving. But, she says, “I’m not superhuman, I’m tired a lot of the time. Every stage in parenting comes with its own challenges and is hard.”

She’s quick to ask her kids for forgiveness if she feels like she’s failed in some respect, but most often she realizes that ultimately the good days always outweigh the bad.

“Good days wouldn’t feel so sweet without a few bad days,” she says.

In a West End neighborhood full of families with young children, with a backyard big enough to entertain her children and neighbor kids, the Steingraber children romp freely and chase the chickens that the family raises. It’s a home filled with love, busyness and activity.

As devoted as Kristin is to her role as wife and mother, she knows that it’s essential that she take care of herself, too. Both sets of grandparents live in town and often visit to be with the children and to give the parents some alone time.

“We all need breaks,” she explains. “There’s no shame in being tired as a mom. It doesn’t matter if you have one child or a houseful. It’s hard work.”

A sitter relieves her several afternoons a week and she spends that time either editing photos, catching up on business or having one-on-one time with one of her children. Her advice to other mothers is to remember that “you change the world through your living room.”

She and Sam fostered several children before they adopted their sons and she’s open to fostering again when the children are older.

“We try to live open-handedly,” she says. “Even with our kids. We try to make them aware of what’s going on around us. That might mean sharing toys with someone that doesn’t have any or sharing our home with a foster child. We’re trying to teach them that when we share, there’s always more.”


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