We are excited to share our first interview with a couple + with a dad! Ryan + Rachel are local artists whose work can be seen all over Portland at some of our favorite restaurants + along our favorite walking paths as well. Read about what it's like to have a brand new baby from the perspectives of both mom + dad.
Tell us a little about who you are + what you do, how you met, + about your new baby girl.
My name is Ryan Adams, I am an Account Manager by day + painter + muralist by night. I met my wife, Rachel, through mutual friends + slight social media lurking, but I like to think that the stars just aligned at the perfect time in both of our lives. Our brand new baby girl, Zoe, is 7 weeks old today + becoming more + more vibrant + aware by the day.
My name is Rachel Adams + I moved to Portland, Maine in 2005 + attended the Maine College of Art. I am currently part of the Creative Team at Designtex, which specializes in the manufacturing + design of wall coverings for corporations. Ryan + I met through mutual friends several years ago + reconnected after a two-year hiatus in Massachusetts. We got married last April at City Hall + little Miss Zoe Marie was born January 13th. Zoe is almost two months old + I have never been more in love.
What is it like to become parents for the first time?
Ryan - It's everything you hear about, + some. It's beautiful, tiring, hilarious, frustrating, confusing, sometimes smelly, + overall the most incredible thing I've ever experienced.
Rachel - It's literally all the emotions. Sometimes all at once. It both challenges + rewards you in ways you didn't know existed.
What was your biggest fear about becoming a parent? And your biggest fear now that you are a parent?
Ryan - My biggest fear about becoming a parent was that I would be too overwhelmed by the challenges + not be able to embrace + fully enjoy the experience. Now that I am a parent, I want to be sure that she is fully equipped to handle any adversities that may come her way as a black woman in this country. That, + I am fearful that she might like her steaks 'well done'.
Rachel - My biggest fear about becoming a parent was literally the moment she would arrive + if I would have the strength to get through the birthing process. Now that I am a parent, + that part is out of the way, my biggest fear is missing out on milestones in her life due to my work schedule. I also find myself replaying scenarios from my high school + college experience + pray to God she is nothing like me.
What has been the best part about being a mom/dad so far?
Ryan - The best part about being a dad is waking up to her every morning + giving her a kiss and a snuggle (She still has the new baby smell ☺).
Rachel - Her smile. It's pure magic.
Ryan - Would you say that it is 24k magic?
Rachel - Keep up.
What is it like having a month old baby at home? What is the first month really like?
Ryan - The first few weeks are rough. It was like being extremely sleep deprived + being woken up every few hours by a fire alarm that doesn't shut off until you solve a complex puzzle. I strangely welcomed the challenge + just buckled up for the ride. After the first few weeks, it's been great (knock on wood), she's mellowing out + we can kind of identify her screams.
Rachel - The first month is all about learning how to decipher her different types of cries + finding a rhythm with your partner while healing physically + emotionally from the delivery. Watching Zoe grow + develop in such a short period of time has been truly rewarding + amazing.
Ryan - what is the most exciting + scariest thing about having a little girl?
I was psyched when I found out I was having a girl! I'm excited to have tea parties, sing Disney musicals + also introduce her to MMA + skateboarding. I am a little nervous that she may reflect her father's adolescent years. That thought is utterly terrifying.
Rachel - Has your idea of being a woman + your relationships with other women changed since giving birth?
Yes, now that Zoe is here every little thing that my mother has done makes so much more sense. I feel fortunate to have a group of friends who have also recently had children to share this experience with – you become very comfortable talking about the human body + all of its functions. The one thing that pops into my mind is that there is no way I could do this alone. All the single mommas out there are absolute rock stars + I didn't fully understand or appreciate how much it really takes to just get out of the front door every day.
What is a typical day like for your family?
Ryan - I generally wake up first, get the coffee going + get some breakfast up to Rachel. I work remotely, + she is still home on maternity leave, so I hit the office + she hangs with baby Zoe. I love having them here right now because I can take quick breathers from the screen + check in. The evenings are spent making dinner, putting some hours in with art projects + paintings + watching whatever show we are binge watching at the time while cracking jokes + intermittently changing diapers.
Rachel - It involves sweatpants of all different sizes. Multiple rounds of sweatpants, depending on Zoe.
What are some of your favorite things about Portland? Maine?
Ryan - I absolutely love it here, born + raised. I love the small town feel, the architecture of the buildings downtown + the community of friends that we have here.
Rachel - Portland has changed a lot since I first moved here, but what has remained is its dedication to excellent food + beverage, the view from the 'Top of the World' park + its vibrant art scene.
What would a perfect day in Portland look like with your family?
Ryan - A late start ☺ (one can dream…), grabbing brunch at one of our favorite spots, strolling around downtown, maybe a nap on the promenade then back to the house for a fire + drinks with friends.
Rachel - A walk through Portland on a warm, sunny day, popping into our favorite restaurants + eating an appetizer at each. Also checking out friend's artwork along the way, inside + outside of the local establishments.
What are the top 3 things you would tell someone who has never been to Portland that they must do while they are here?
Ryan - There's so much to do, it would depend on what they are into. But personally, I would say to take the walk from the legal wall to Commercial Street, watch the sunset at the 'Top of the World', + eat EVERYTHING.
Tell us about your project Maternity Leave.
Ryan - Maternity Leave was a show at 49 Gallery at Oxbow in which Rachel + I created 20 paintings (10 each) where we painted in our own styles but synched up color schemes. It was an awesome experience because we both chose palettes + had to work with the others choices. It got us both out of our comfort zones but pushed us to create a whole body of work that functioned as one.
Rachel - Will Sears approached us about showing our artwork at Oxbow, after a few rounds of ideas, Ryan + I created 10 pairs of paintings that complimented each other.
Did this help you get ready for the baby to come?
Ryan - Most of the painting was completed during the third trimester, so I will defer to Rachel for this one ☺
Rachel - Yes in that it provided a distraction from the misery that is the third trimester.
Do you feel your artwork will change after becoming parents? If so, in what ways?
Ryan - I've heard that can be a thing. I am not sure how it will change at this point. Although, I am conscious of what she might think of my work later on, so I know that I will have another harsh critic in the near future.
Rachel - The work I created for our most recent show was a leap in regards to medium + imagery. So you could say Zoe has already changed my artwork. I hope to continue in this direction + am excited to see what possible new directions it could take now that she is here. I also feel like making art right now is a luxury in regards to time so I would imagine that I would devise ways of more immediacy with technique + scheming new motifs while tending to little Zoe.
How do you think your art will influence parenthood?
Ryan - I think it will be something that she is raised around + fully immersed in. Even now, when she needs some movement, I take her around the house + show her paintings (she is partial to her mother's work).
Rachel - Our house is filled with so much art the child is going to have no choice but to be exposed to it. My only hope is that she develops the same unhealthy obsession with Marimekko that I have.
What advice would you give to your daughter as she gets older?
Ryan - There's so much that I've learned in my short(ish) time on this planet + I want to pass down as much knowledge as I can. But maybe the most important will be to always be kind, treat everyone with respect and, no matter what, always be yourself.
Rachel - To be yourself + trust in the universe.
What are you each most excited about right now?
Ryan - Honestly, I am so excited that Zoe is starting to smile more often, + in response to things that make her happy. We have a house that's full of jokes, competitive trash talking, + laughter. I can't wait to have her included in the hilarity.
Rachel - I am most excited to continue to watch Zoe grow… And for her to start talking so that we can know what is going on in her little head.
If Zoe could have only one thing from Little, what would it be?
Ryan - She hasn't stopped talking about this Misha + Puff Romper? I keep finding internet printouts covered in drool, in her crib.
Rachel - A Misha + Puff Romper.