New term, both boys back at school

10.45 am

Some times to understand it helps to do the maths. I am sitting at the table in the front room, I am allowing myself thirty minutes to write today. I am allowed this time. It is due. I have worked very hard for the past 54 days caring for two boys over the summer holidays. Syd went back today, he was up far to early, his alarm sounded at 6.30am then at 6.45 am then at 7am. He left for school at 8.20am only to return back home again when he realised that he did not need to be in school until 10am, thus my plans to start the new term with a long walk/run were thrown out the window as he asked for a lift to school. I could have said no. I could have been a more assertive mother, but actually it was rather sweet that he wanted me to drop him off on the first day back. Its nice to feel helpful and useful. So the new term began for me with a modest walk up and down the hill outside our house. Modest but enough.

I saw foxgloves dying back. I saw heather, harebells, the grass turning to yellow ochre. Fields of ploughed hay. I looked across at the path I usually take on my morning run. Back to the old routine. Routine is important. I saw elderberries ripening, blackberries, rose hips, the decaying remains of a crow.

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I see the postman delivering packages and letters.

What else did I think? What else did I see? What was it that was I so urgent to record. I wanted to record the utter failure to keep to writing daily over the summer holidays, I wanted to write about how I had let this project go, for my own sanity I had to let it go a little. I thought about what I needed to do, all the photographs I have taken that need attaching to each post. The posts that I have managed. Its not a surprise to me that I was unable to keep up with feeding this space with thoughts when looking after children full time. I become so frustrated. Apart from  two days when Naoise was at football school, I had no respite care what so ever, I get ever so envious of families who have the assistance of grandparents. I try not to be envious. I know that my children are my children and that they are my responsibility but I could  have done with just a little bit of help. I shouldn’t complain, I really shouldn’t. Should is a silly word. Maybe I have every reason to complain a little. I know that juggling work, paid work and childcare is complex and exhausting too. I know about that. I know about being grateful for what I have, healthy children, a home, a beautiful place to live.

I became so disheartened with this project over the summer period that I almost took it down. I did not want to share my anxieties, my life, I wanted to hide, to be private. I wanted to pretend that I was ok, when I was struggling, but really I am rubbish at pretending everything is alright. Don’t  get me wrong I had wonderful days with my family, and I enjoyed hiding, I enjoyed playing but I now want to seek out some space for myself now. Some space to make and to create. To finish thoughts and sentences to find new words and ways of articulating my experience as a mother, as an artist as a woman.

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The washing machine turns. The year turns.

I noticed the swallows have not gone. I noticed the swallows flying. I noticed the white pony standing next to the two white baths, I noticed horse hair and sheep hair. I noticed how everything seemed interesting. I noticed that I hadn’t seen closely like this for an age. I noticed that I have been sleepwalking, and now I have some time and space to think I can see the world clearly. The world of texture and colour. The fluffiness of thistle down, the blue breaking through the cloud cover, the expansiveness of life.

When I got home, I put on the washing, tidied a corner of the sofa, staked up the clothes in a tower of neatness, thought about photographing this order.

Motherhood Monopoly. Motherhood monopoly would have chance cards that said things like, your child has gone to school happily proceed to work happily, or your child had a tantrum in the bath and you lost the plot with them and got frustrated and angry move back three places, or you are all up after a long summer holiday every one wants to get in the bathroom at once sadly you don’t manage to negotiate the frustration of your family move back four. What would the places and properties be, the park, the school, places in the home, rewards would most certainly not be monetary. Motherhood Monopoly is an ugly name it suggests some kind of competition which is pretty repulsive. Perhaps there is a board game that I can create, some humorous, honest thing of creativity. It needs more thought. Motherhood certainly does not feel like a game of fun, but it often feels like chance and luck are a part of the process. Balancing. Maintaining. Feeding. Caring. Cleaning.

MUMOPOLY. The parent game. Mothers meeting. Parenting.

Oh what a dirty mess the house is, but I don’t have the energy to attack it, I need some calm before an energetic storm of cleanliness. I am no good at keeping order, I easily let things slip.

The children want chinchillas as pets. We are doing some research. Syd has been looking at the RSPCA web site to see what animals need adopting. Our home is small, I cannot see the physical space for any other living thing right now. I would love a cat, but the road would kill it. There is nothing better than the warmth and love of a purring cat on a knee. Our home has felt so lonely since Frida died last year. I miss her female company. The pet discussion will continue.

I went for a fifteen mile bike ride with Syd yesterday, right up over the moor, up along London Road, past Stoodly Pike and back into Hebden Bridge and home along the canal path. I was very slow, but I did it. Syd tried to pump up my tires half way around and instead let out all the air in the back, luckily we met a fellow cyclist who had a pump with the correct valve so was able to save us from a slow and boring walk into Hebden. We stopped at the honesty box and had an ice cream each. The ice-cream kept me going up the steep and uneven hills. The honesty box is a shed where you can buy refreshments and eggs and its unmanned hence the honesty box where you place your coins for the things that you have bought. I love this place and the ice-cream is devine. The last and possibly the best ice-cream I had eaten all summer. Syd had fudge flavour I had honeycomb. I bought six big healthy looking eggs.


The buzzer is sounding. The washing machine is spinning. I’ll complete this, tidy up some posts, tidy up some of the house and just breath a little slower today and get used to my own company again. I like my own company, I like very much my children company, but we all need space to breath and think and work on our own projects too. Together and apart a family we are.


The Mothership Project

Keir Hardy, Labours First Leader



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