Saturday, 9 August 2014

Art and motherhood/ the art of motherhood

The other morning I woke up to a cold bedroom for the first time in weeks. Our temperature-sensitive night light was glowing blue instead of red, and as my little girl reached out to delicately grab me by the nose, I noticed her hands were slightly chilly against my skin. All these signs are the first heralds of autumn, which surprised me into realising that soon the season will change again. I listed to myself what I have achieved this year, artistically; a small, well-received prototype puppet, a couple of small drawings made for friends, a scattering of tiny, hurried sketches of my baby, an a4 drawing which, radically, includes painted colour. 
And that's it. 
This momentarily stirred a rush of restless frustration in me - I have a long list (I'm a list person) of simple and complex projects, all of which seem to positively radiate surliness at me when I read them over. 

Before I had a baby I respected, but couldn't really understand, why other mothers would describe how they had no time to do anything.
 'How hard can it be?', I thought, everyday hubris making me overconfident, 'I'm sure I'LL find a way.' 

I have quickly come to realise what nonsense that is, for two main reasons. 

Firstly, the practical. For the first 2 months of my daughters life she slept for hours. Hours. Sometime four or five hours in a day would pass with her blissfully sleeping. However, I spent that time asleep myself, having discovered that newborns, for whatever mysterious reason, have day and night around the wrong way. 
If I wasn't asleep I was staring slack-jawed in wonderment at the impossibility of this entirely new human being (where did you COME from?!). 
Or I was breastfeeding. I felt like I breastfed all day, all the time, all night, every waking moment. 

This all changed as she grew bigger of course. Her sleeping wonderfully improved, became nightmarishly awful, improved once more and now bounces between these two extremes. 

Secondly, there is the factor of her personality. When I now remember the things I imagined about having a baby, I failed to actually account for HER. I couldn't include in the person she is because I had no idea who she would be. For example, she's not the type of person you can ignore. For even ten minutes. She is (very) vocal about not being included in whatever is going on. 

Luckily for us both, I just love to play with her. I love adventuring with her over the moors or to the corner shop. We love spending ages looking at ourselves in the mirror and giggling. I love watching her sit and play contentedly (though she looks around at me periodically to check I am in attendance). 

It was during an especially silly moment, her sat laughing at me as I did a dance for her, that I realised I WAS making art. Right then and there. For my baby, my stupid cavorting was the best thing in the world at that moment. Everything we had done together all day had involved my attention, really listening and really looking, and responding creatively to each challenge my daughter threw my way. 
It's not a grand revelation, nor an original one, but mothering (parenting or being a guardian) IS art. 

That being said, taking care if someone else is tough, really, really tough, and the odd hour here or there spent drawing or making have become even more precious to me. The fact that art no longer feels like the most important thing in my life is also a blessing -rather than trying hard and fretting, I now feel like I am 'just' playing. I think I have my daughter to thank for that. 

1 comment:

  1. Nomi, this is really moving. I will remember it if I can. And long live stupid cavorting!

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