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What Raising Kids In SoCal Really Looks Like

Aurora Reyes

Aurora Reyes smiles with her daughter for a photo.
(Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Aurora Reyes

Koreatown • Age 42 • Full-time parent

Lives with Joseph (20), Jocelyn (18), Ryan (12), Anthony (7), Khloe (3); Grandson: Princeton (1)

Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

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“My husband passed away on Oct. 17, 2017...He was a pedestrian, and a drunk driver hit him. So my son has been going through a lot of, you know, he misses his father and everything that's going on with that daily life and how it is having to live without a father. I just took a picture of him just sleeping that day... he had a hard day."

He was kind of thinking about dad, so he was kind of sad. So he had... his dad's blanket.
— Aurora Reyes
About Parenting, Unfiltered
  • We gave point-and-shoot film cameras to 12 Southern California parents of young children and invited them to document their lives in the Fall of 2019.

  • Join this group of families, from South Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley and San Bernardino, as they show us what parenting really looks like, through their eyes.

Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

“I was getting the kids ready. We were leaving. And I was still trying to grab some stuff for both of the kids getting their bags ready… I think my daughter was getting my grandson ready.

“It's a hectic morning trying to get all these kids ready together and then you know, my daughter she's still, she's in her going through a lot of stuff also. So with her postpartum, sometimes where I still have to get her up or, ‘Come on. We gotta go.’... Everybody's just running around and...babies don't want to get up yet. And you know, they're fussing and changing diapers or running back and forth.”
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Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

“That was on the way to school, dropping one of them off. I just seen the sunset was looking really pretty in the sunlight… when you have so much going on... just to see just the open air like that or just a sky like … gives you a little breather.”

Especially with five kids… you’re never finished helping one another. There's never time for you to spend time with them, for each five of the kids.
"The kids need that extra time with mom. And it’s like, you’re grocery shopping, you're taking the kids back and forth to school, you're picking them up from school, one of the kids [is] sick… And by the time I'm done with that I'm already exhausted. So it's like, do I have to cook? Could I get a maid? Like it's hard, you know.”
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Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

“This photo is just of my daughter and her boyfriend and my grandson and Chloe. They're just, you know, sitting around, they were watching TV. And then we usually get in there and talk at that time.”

On her grandson: “You know, not everything comes when it's supposed to come. God gives you that… reason why to live… I think he gave us another something more to live, to go on each day for... the kids just love him and they love to wake up to him. And when she has time with her boyfriend, like she goes to his house, they really miss him when he's gone. They look forward to seeing him every day. That just helps them daily to get through life.”

From left: An image of Aurora's two sons smiling with the older son's arm around the other, and an image of her younger son smiling at the camera while the older son walks away.
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)
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About the first photo: “This one was when we were getting ready to get go down to the car. This is actually a really good picture of the boys. Because they're always fighting in the morning or arguing about something. So to get that captured as that moment. And he really didn't want to smile. It’s kind of hard to get the older ones to smile.”

About the second photo: “Right here, he was having a bad morning. There's times where he just gets upset and don't want to do things at the time I want him to do things. He's still like, he's in his preteens right now.”

Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

“Since I don't have my car… It broke down and then I have to pay for the tag, so since I'm not working right now, and it's been really hard, to be able to do all that, to be home with the kids. I barely make it at the moment."

In the morning as we're walking, it's still dark. It shows… how early it is that we have to get up to get them to school to make sure they get on there on time. And it's like not always do we make it there on time because of how they're feeling that morning or what they may be going through at that time.
Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

“It's usually crazy when I have to take her with me and walk home… This [backpack] has a little thing where you hold on to her. So she's the only one that I have to, it's like a must. I don't like those things, but with her, it's like she's too, too active and she wants to be doing what she wants to do.”
Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

“We have communication as he's walking there. If not, then I start — I get really freaked out. Just, everything goes through your head.

“He has a tablet. When he gets to school, he texts me and tells me, ‘Mom, I'm at school.’ And then I'll just text him back, ‘I love you and have a nice day at school.’”
Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

“This was off on my balcony. I just liked the way the sun was setting. And I got like the little palm trees and then the store downstairs.

“I actually had to go out to the balcony just to get some air. I was having a really bad day. So much was going on. Sometimes I just go out there just to take a deep breath and so I can keep moving each day with these kids. It's really hard, alone, in having to deal with each one's emotions and making sure you're not trying to be overprotective, but letting them have their space.”
From left: a selfie of Aurora and her daughter, and a photo of her son using a tablet on her couch.
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

“It's been really, really hard to have to deal with the grieving process with myself, and my kids, and therapy... Especially in this quarantine and trying to get them out just a little… And then, ‘Why do we have to wear the mask?’ And it's just, they don't want to wear it, they don't understand why they have to wear it.

“I mean, it's a lot. All my kids are home at the moment. We try to do homework mostly in the morning. And then sometimes it takes all day to get it done because they're fighting with us. It's been hard to get a team going for each one of them and trying to take care of each kid at a time. And then I have my 3-year-old daughter running around, so they see her and they get really distracted.”
Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

“We are headed to the school to get snacks for the kids, to get them out and moving their legs, since all this pandemic has been going around. [They have backpacks because LAUSD] is giving breakfast and lunch for each one of them.”
“We are headed to the school to get snacks for the kids, to get them out and moving their legs, since all this pandemic has been going around. [They have backpacks because LAUSD] is giving breakfast and lunch for each one of them.”
Images of Aurora's young kids sleeping next to each other on a bed.
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

Beautiful, exhausting moments for me… they give me so much trouble all day and how bad they will fight, but this is at the end of the day and night. They look [out] and feel for one another. She loves her brother Anthony.
Participatory Parent Photo Project: AURORA
(Aurora Reyes/LAist)

His necklace has his dad’s ashes in it. So he took him along to watch the blue waves. It made him feel safe.
“We came a long ways and we had a lot happen to us and, I really, really have really good kids. Coming from emotionally, having death in our family, we're still trying to move forward. Just their confidence that they have to keep moving forward and being their happy selves. And you know, just to try each day, because every day is new. We're never promised. We're never promised the next day.”

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