Wednesday, September 25, 2013

65th Missouri Photo Workshop | "Monica & Veronica: Living for Now"

Fraternal but seemingly identical 19-year-old twins and lifelong Trenton residents Monica and Veronica Vestal share everything - a job, a home, the lifelong bond of sisterhood and two differing but strangely similar paths of early motherhood. Monica, mother of 3-year-old Kayden, trades off working during a six-day workweek at Sonic with the three-month pregnant Veronica to manage taking care of her son. With mutual uncertainty as to who will serve as their respective children's father figures, the two sisters recently moved into a trailer on the edge of town to raise a family as best they know how.

"We live for now, and not for what is going to come. I change my mind a lot – but with a baby, it doesn't really work out that way." – Veronica Vestal

In a rare moment of freedom from work, Veronica Vestal dangles her hand into the wind while headed to a park in Trenton with her twin sister Monica and Monica's son, Kayden. "I'm not scared about my baby," Veronica said. "Because of Kayden, I know what to expect."

Nineteen-year-old twins Veronica Vestal, left, Monica Vestal, center, and Kayden Knapp, 3, right, goof around in the back of their roommate's car during a spontaneous outing on a day off in Trenton. Living, working and family-oriented demands frequently keep the group separated, requiring a split of duties to keep life operating smoothly.

Kayden clings to his mother Monica while on a walk at a park in Trenton. Monica gave birth to her son during her freshman year in high school when she was 16.  The father, one of two male identical twins, is no longer with Monica. "Marshall stuck around for a year after, but that was it. I felt so alone," Monica said. "I wouldn't change it now for anything. Life just wouldn't be the same without Kayden."

Kayden, left, watches his mother Monica, right, head to work with roommate Taylor Shuler. The twins both work at Sonic in Trenton.

While Monica works dayshifts, Veronica takes care of Kayden. The sisters then swap childcare and work duties for the night shift.

Veronica, left, hops into Kayden's car-shaped bed after working with Monica to load in a mattress. "I was miserable at best when I found out I was pregnant. I was freaking out; I thought I was too young," Monica said. "I didn't want to do it myself. My mom did that, and I didn't want to do that. As time went on, I got everything I needed and the way I felt changed."

At three and a half months, Veronica is eager to start showing a baby bump. Kayden, right, feels the softness of her belly.

After the conclusion of another work day, Monica, right, and Veronica compare their matching earrings. In addition to taste in jewelry, the twins sport matching haircuts and similar tattoos.

Veronica's daycare duties include bathing an often-rowdy Kayden. The responsibility of being a caretaker acts to prepare Veronica for her upcoming trials of motherhood - a reality coming to light in less than six months.

Monica, top, soothes her son back to sleep after he woke up crying at their home. "The word that sums up my situation is 'family,' since Kayden. Even my graduation cap says 'family is forever,'" Monica said. "Before, I just didn't think I had anything to feel for."

As the sun sets over Trenton, Kayden skips alongside Monica, right, and aunt Veronica on Wednesday. "I think I'll be a good mom, but I worry about it a lot," Veronica said. "I want to be all the way prepared when I have my kid."

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