Archive for : October, 2015

All hallows eve.

8.58 am

Someone is a wake. I was hoping that they would stay asleep so I could write this. I have been up for an hour. Pottering. Hanging washing on the laundry rack and the radiator. Putting towels into the tumble dryer. I think its P I can hear, not the little steps of little boy or thundering steps of teenage boy.

So peace for a little longer.

Naoise looks like a halloween pumpkin now that both of his front teeth have come out. Its not raining this morning. Maybe we will manage a walk. Maybe we will carve the large orange pumpkin on the table in front of me.

IMG_2744IMG_2743

Yesterday was a fiasco, and my back still hurts from five hours spent in a traffic not ever reaching our destination and just returning home. We completed an entire circle around Manchester and then skirted around the centre before heading back north east and over the hill to Yorkshire. I love it when we reach the top of the Backup road and drop down into the comfort of the Calder Valley. I wished yesterday that I had never left it. Me and Syd listened to a lot of music and radio yesterday and cursed at cars driven badly. We were glad just to get back alive and with the car still running. The car has been making a growling sound. The growls have been getting louder.

I dreamt that I was on a walk to a house in the forest. Other parents and their children from my friends school were trying to get to this house.  I was leaving and making my way up hill, when a flock of sheep and deer terrified came running down the hill. A large snarling wolf was in pursuit. We all ran into the house to take cover from the wolf. I remember little else of this dream, other than trying to find something to feed the ravenous wolf with, and feeling fearful.

When I first entered the kitchen this morning a robin was standing on the fence in the yard and it stared directly at me. Its been an age since I saw the baby robins. Since putting fat balls on the bay, the maple and the buddleia plants we have had more visitors mainly bluetits.

Syds phone has broken, he is desperate for a new one. The car needs mending at the garage, Syd needs a new phone. There is always something that needs maintaining or mending or replacing. I need a job, oh how I need a job so that each of these incidents is not as stressful as this. There is no fall back. There is no cushion. We will magic some money from somewhere. We will find a way.

I want to stage an event for M(other) Stories a reading day. I want to read to at least ten people from my studio. Ten extracts from ten months of writing.

I feel that this project has lost its way. I need  to be reading some theory again. Give it some structure Maybe it has a life of its own. Will I miss it when it has gone. When will I stop? Do I stop on the day that I started 16th December or do I keep writing until there are exactly 365 posts? I think it best I stop in the new year. It would then feel as if I had come completely full circle.

I am concerned that I am comfort eating again. Last night I ate cracker after cracker, chunk of cheese after chunk of cheese. Its cruel that I do this to myself. It happens when I am stressed when its the changing seasons, as it gets dark. I hate the lack of light and day. I am fearful about standing on the scales. I don’t want to face what I have done. I am the hungry wolf that needs constant feeding. I need to run. Run with the wolves.

Me and Naoise completed Moomins in Midwinter. He wants to read another Moomins. I like reading Moomins. Its calm and gentle and wise. I like to read books that reflect the season that I am living in. Books that deal with the passage of time and how nature affects humans.

The washing machine tumble dryer gently chugs. So much to do. So little time. What a messy house. Where to begin, where to end?

Research

Christian Boltanski: the artist counting the seconds till his own demise, Sarah Moroz, Monday 26th October, The Guardian

We filmed our baby’s birth – it’s wonderful to watch, Laura Brown, Saturday 31st October, The Guardian

The Gap

Naoise wibbly wobbly tooth fell out. Syd got his hair cut super short and cool at Nathans. We all shared a delicious £5 margarita pizza from Marcos. Then spent 5.5 hours in traffic circling the Manchester ring road trying to get to a World War 1 exhibition at Durham Massey, which I thought would be useful for Syd and his history studies. We never did get to our chosen destination and it was dark by the time we reached home again.

The swimming swan

Fell asleep putting Naoise to bed, just woke up with all my clothes on. Bra suffocating me. Heavy rain on skylight. Long dat but its now tomorrow. 2am in the morning. P hasn’t come home after his works outing. I suspect very drunk and missed the last train. Mixture of concern and annoyance that he didn’t even text me to let me know of his change in plans.

Syd performed at the Golden Lion pub, first time with an electric guitar and loop pedal. Some technical difficulties but he managed and has earned himself a paid gig.

I am so so awake now. Day went by as if a year.

IMG_20151029_222556

Naoise spent the morning painting. A swimming swan and a hedgehog scaling a pyramid of a mountain. Syd spent morning jamming. Afternoon went to see a friend, children carved pumpkins together and played music and computer games.

The grey and wet subsided, so we went for a walk. We walked through the woods past Ted Hughes place. Beech trees beautiful colours, ginger, yellow ochre, acid yellow, crimson.  Talked about art and parenting and job applying.

Made dinner for a friend who came with us to Syds gig. Made salsa to go with our wraps. The salsa looked an off colour. Pale odd, pink, sick looking salsa, but it tasted ok.

Must try and get to sleep, I have another long day of childcare ahead of me tomorrow. Must not get annoyed or over concerned he is a grown man. I’m sure he is fine.

 

Resist mother shame being sold back to us

8.13am (at the table in the front room)

Wet and damp and grey. It must be a day to make artwork. I hurriedly text my friend asking if it is today that he is doing some printmaking workshops at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, and I discover a free besom broom workshop that is taking place at the Touchstones Gallery in Rochdale, but you have to book before hand and its probably full, but worth a phone call regardless.

I am not to bothered about going to an art gallery. Me and Naoise are perfectly capable of making art at home. Front table art is probably the best anyway. You don’t have to travel far, so you can maximise on time to make art and time to have fun and grab a free coffee when ever you want.

Wouldn’t a gallery that was just like a home be a great thing? A place where you could drop in, help yourself to a coffee, sit on the sofa, not worry about being sold anything. No postcards. No expensive coffee. Just the cultural experience. A home like art experience. A friendly cosy space that does not ask anything of you. Art does not need repackaging and selling bak to us. We just want to make and be. Art can be a Home.

Syd is going into Manchester with his friends. I sent him on an expedition to the top floor of the house to retrieve my glasses but he hasn’t reappeared. Time for him is on long piece of string,

Naoise is asleep, that is good, he can sleep for as long as he likes. I am enjoying a rest after the intensity of yesterdays wordsmith war against the clock to complete another job application. I wonder will the words be wasted or will something come of them.

It is a strange thing that language, persuasive language and a list of things you have done before may or may not open a door to paid work. Just words on a page, defining the self and what you can do for others.

Language really then is power, but these words are not enough. Words are not actions. Words can comfort and connect but they don’t make change. It is what we do that is important. What will I do next?

I began tidying the towers of books and paper work and birthday card envelopes and lego and battle hamsters and sun glasses and CD’s. It was boring. Ordering caos is dull. If my house were tidy this project would not exist. You have to make your choices, you simply cannot have it all. Maintain the mind and loose the house.

I stare at the sock peg hanging plastic device attached to the fold out laundry rail. Its empty, it wants to be full of drying clothes. The washing machine is hungry and wants pants for its breakfast. The doors to the CD cupboard are flung open and beneath a small poo pile of CD’s. The draw to the utensil draw is open. The flowers from my birthday are still alive but you cannot totally appreciate them amidst all the clutter and paraphernalia.

The plywood dinasaur that me and Naoise made on Monday is intact. It is valued. Whenever it looses a vertebrae Naoise slots it back in.

Last night me and P actually had some time together. We sat side by side on the sofa and watched TV. Although it was more screen staring at least it was communal screen sharing. At least this was time together. It has been nothing but work work work lately. I worry about the amount of work. I worry about P’s eyes being burnt out whilst he codes looking at the screen. There is nothing to do but get on with life and work and life and work and care and work and children and maintenance. I want a job so that I can at least readdress the work imbalance.

I struggle with my ideas of feminism around parenting when I am not financially earning and contributing to the family. For me and my conscious it is not enough to be a stay at home mum. The care of cause is of value but it pays me nothing, it does not pay the bills. To not work is a fantasy. The debts are mounting and we cannot keep up. Something will give, I have hope, and at least me and P are getting on better now that I am making more of an effort to actually find paid work opportunities.

Friday is Halloween. This year I may carve a turnip instead of a pumpkin.  As a child our family used to carve turnips to make Jack o lanterns. Turnips are hard to carve. They bend spoons. They cause knives to cut fingers and hands. The turnip is the more challenging. The turnip is scarier. I like scary. Maybe I will be kind and buy pumpkin and turnip. Pumpkin for the children and a turnip for me. Apparently there is a shortage of Pumpkins due to the wet autumn weather. I haven’t noticed a lack of pumpkins.

Syd did’nt want me to take a picture of his feet and publish them here, but  I have rebelled and gone against his wishes. I have to think of a way of making this project friendly and appealing to them. I can understand him not liking it though. He is a teenager. I am embarrassing mum. Its only feet and toes though. Toes that play with mine. Toes that are caring. I hope that you don’t really mind Syd. You do have lovely fee t and I wanted to capture something of our relationship and the fondness that exists between us.

Research

The ‘mommy wars’ are the patriarchy’s latest attempt to control women , 

Feminism in London conference: sex work, glass ceilings and ‘vulvanomics’, Barbara Speed Monday 26th October 2015, The Guardian

One third of British working mothers are main breadwinners, Phillip Inman, Tuesday 20th October 2015, The Guardian

Lie back and think of your mother: Obama-inspired ad urges Danes to Do it for Mom, Helen Russell , Tuesday 20th October 2015, The Guardian

 

 

 

Football school and completing job applications

20.55 pm ( at the table)

Its dark. Patrick is putting Naoise in the shower, Syd is chilling in his bedroom after a day out with his friends followed by continuous guitar jamming practice.

My eyes are burning from staring at this screen and my brain feels like it might explode. I have spent the entire day writing a job application. I just hit submit on the job portal and now I can breath a huge sigh of relief. It is so incredibly dull to go through this looking for work process. I am becoming lethargic and sluggish. I haven’t run in weeks and the house is taking on new levels of caos and unkemptness as my attentions and energy are taken up with all this applying.

I do hope that soon I can just get on with doing a job and forget about the job of applications. Yawn yawn, yawn. Boring, boring, boring.

Naoise had a great day at football school. Its the best and cheapest childcare that you can get over the school holidays. Its not really childcare at all, but loads of people use it as this.

He was keen to go early and never even flinched when I said I had to go. He loves the football school instructor and all seems very positive.

When I went to collect him, I was horrified to discover that he hadn’t eaten any of the contents of his lunch box. I was reassured later to find that it was probably because he had scoffed two bars of chocolate from eh vending machine.

Daddy come in here. Daddy come in here. Its interesting to observe that Naoise is just as demanding of his dads attention as he is of my own.

The highlight of today was receiving a book in the post from dearest Lena in her The Mums and Babies Ensemble: A Manual

I can hear Naoise asking Patrick impossible questions. Daddy how many different types of animals are there in the world?

I am glad that he is no longer staring at a screen. I feel bad when I have no other choice than to rely upon DVD’s and TV programmes to keep Naoise entertained whilst I write applications.

Syd is going off on a teenage trip to hang out in Manchester tomorrow so I will be at least free to devote my time and attention to Naoise. I loved building the ply wood dinosaur with him on Monday morning.

At least now I have submitted my application I can relax and play and have fun once more.

I am not liking the shorter days and the dark. My body clock is all of a muddle and I keep waking up extremely early in the morning.

I can hear Naoise asking further questions. His dad is good and kind and tries to answer.

 

 

 

Ply wood dinosaur and the hospital visit

22.15pm ( on the sofa writing in front room)

I am shattered. P is trying to put Naoise to bed, Syd fell asleep half an hour ago. Its really bonkers having a big brother that falls asleep before his little brother.

Strange day. Morning spent building a Velociraptor model with Naoise. One of those models comprised of many pieces of ply wood, with a photograph of the completed dinosaur but no instructions. I was so proud of the model we manage to make. We actually got from beginning to end, and got the model to stand on its own two feet.

In the afternoon I took S to the hospital in Bradford to get an x-ray and ultrasound done on his left foot. Why of why do all hospital car parks have pay and display systems. So stressful. I never carry change and the machines never except cards.

The hospital was overly warm. Me and Naoise played noughts and crosses whilst we waited. I would have rather read the copy of Marie Claire on the coffee table but that was not to be.

The room where the ultrasound examination took place was even warmer and completely airless. No window. Dark. A trainee doctor dressed in an oregano dress came in with the other doctor. Me and Naoise watched Syds foot and bones being magically cast onto the screen.

Last time that I was in an ultrasound department was just before Naoise was born. Checking that the large fibroid wasn’t blocking my birth canal. All was fine and I went home knowing I was going to be having a boy.

Naoise asked me this morning whether I ever wanted a daughter. Yes of cause I said and he replied, you don’t want a daughter mum, they are hard to raise, they are fussy, they don’t do as they are told and they throw their food on the floor. His opinions amuse me. I let him know that actually food throwing isn’t gender specific and as to fussiness. Naoise is the fussiest person I know.

Bit brain dead can’t think of what else to write. An ordinary evening at home, cooking dinner, staring at the full moon, clearing up mess. watching doctor who on the sofa and piles of mess build into towers.

Naoise will be at football school tomorrow, Syd out with friends, me writing a job application and Patrick at work.

Hooray for the house of lords at least managing to delay the chancellors planned tax credit cuts. There is hope. There is some sanity.

Research

The Grand Shattering, by Sarah Manguso, August 2015 ,Harpers Magazine

Day two: escape to the wild

No words written. Only images taken. Day two out with my family in the wilds of the Lakedistrict. No internet access, no mobile reception. 

Post published on return home.

DSC_7444-2 DSC_7445

DSC_7442-3DSC_7453

Research

The holy-book bomb: is this the most offensive artwork ever?, Aaron Rosen, 23rd October, 2015, The Guardian

See:  Leni Dothan’s Sleeping Madonna

 

Day one: escape to the wild

Wrote nothing. Family takes up all energy and time, especially over school holidays. Stayed over night in the lake district, no internet access, no mobile reception. My idea of heaven. 

Post published on return.

Let it go & Lets go play

9.39am ( at the table home)

Truth is I am rubbish at letting it go. I let small things eat away at me. I wish I could be more like frozen and let it go. Truth is when I didn’t manage to persuade Naoise to do some homework about Where in the world food comes from, I did feel bad and I did feel that I had let him down.

But he was more interested in writing a poem, painting a picture of fireworks and playing with his train set. He is six for goodness sake.Do six year olds really manage to do homework independently at home ?

I am sorry Miss…..I tried to get out of it for Naoise, I tried to list our families excuses. That no log book came home, that Syd has been on crutches, that Patrick has been working full time and overtime, that he didn’t come home until 10pm last night and I had fallen asleep putting the kids to bed. That I haven’t got a paid job and I have been trying to get a job as well as coming in and volunteering at the school, helping out friends trying to be a good person. A valued proactive member of society. No we did not manage the school homework. We did fail Naoise.

The teacher simply looks disdainfully  at me and points at large scale models and placards that the good parents have done with their good children at home. I leave the classroom dissatisfied with her lack of empathy and understanding.

I wonder if the homework is for the children or the parents or for the school or her?

DSC_7437-2 DSC_7440-3

Truth is that I am rubbish at rebelling. I mean I can rebel but then taking the consequences is not so great. I felt bad and I felt annoyed and angry and frustrated. I did try. Our family does try. We try.

What the hell are we doing with our children and their education anyway. Did she forget the poem that he wrote, the firework picture? Did she for once consider that actually Naoise does know where in the world food comes from?

We plant food on our allotment. We buy fair trade products. We showed Naoise videos of where Fair Trade bananas come from. There is nothing to show for our efforts, no neat drawing or words or product but he knows, he knows where in the world food comes from, well bananas at least. Oh hang on a minute potatoes and courgettes and raspberries, gooseberries, apples, onions, herbs………

Oh this is ridiculous. Why do I let this get me down. I am a good mum and my children are very well balanced and intelligent and sociable and happy. PLAY why can we not just let them PLAY, let our hair down, stop worrying and getting anxious about learning objectives and targets set by governments that really don’t care.

Can’t we all just let our children learn in their own sweet time, and not feel pressured by this time table, that is nothing to do about caring for our children and their education and what their individual needs might be? A system that does not take a holistic approach. That pigeon holes and streams and tests, marks, grades and makes no space for individuality for common sense or for creativity. Creativity takes time. Slow is good. Naoise did not want to do the homework that the school set. Two weeks for him was not long enough.

If I had been the teacher and a parent had been unable to complete the homework set with their child I would have said thats fine, look forward to seeing what you do after the half term. Perhaps I should have said nothing, nothing would have been better, and I should never have mentioned that the log book hadn’t been sent home. Schools cannot manage any criticism from parents. A parents job is to follow the rules and do what they are told to support the school but never to question it?

DSC_7439-4DSC_7441-4

Yesterday I managed some drawing. A little drawing on blue. I wish I was drawing again today, but I have to attempt another job application. The children break up from school today for the half term and then there will be no time to write job applications and besides kicking up leaves, finding mushrooms and rotten things and getting messy in the mud and the hills is much more important than any form or any homework.

Right?

Let it go and Lets Play 

Research

Nurses, fathers, teachers, mothers. Why do we devalue someone the minute they care for others? October 21, The Washington Post 

“Work of investing in others being just as important as the work that we do for money.” 

“My entire life is unfinished business.”


Think about care and value and how care of others is valued in society?

How has being an unemployed mother affected my value and position in society? How do I view myself? How do others view me?

Think about caring for children and how mothers and fathers work in the home and outside of the home?

What is work?

What is paid work what is unpaid work?

Why is caring work low paid and undervalued?

Why haven’t we learnt?

We know that caring work is valuable so why do carers get paid so little ?

Why does change come so slowly?

How do we get to real equality between men and women?


 

 

 

Blowy day, book & the red tennis ball

9.57 am ( at the desk in the studio)

I am here in the studio, its been a long old while. I am here. Picking up the pieces of my arts practice. I will draw today. I need to make a mark. I will make marks on blue house hold paint sample paper. I will make marks with oily indian ink. The flow of the line will please me. It is done. I have said I will do and I will.

The autumn sun is bright in the greying sky. A blowy day. The crows tumble around in the wind with the leaves. The children are like the wind, excited, upbeat, blowy.

DSC_7438-3DSC_7443-2

The morning at home was much better, I didn’t shout, Naoise brushed his teeth, ate his breakfast at the table, did not  revolt when I unwrapped him from this blanket womb. I think warm pan au chocolate definitely helped. Who wouldn’t want to wake to warm chocolate bread.

We just get to school on time. Today I delayed us, I couldn’t find my cash card. I had to return to the house to find it later. I am always loosing and finding this card. I am no good with keys and cards. I found it on the bookshelf outside Naoise bedroom, I remembered I had placed it there before bedtime. Before reading Moomins Midwinter. How I love Tove Jensons writing, so simple, succinct and beautiful. Her descriptions of winter make me want it, so they must be good for I dread its coming.

DSC_7440-2DSC_7442-2

Naoise took a book with him to school today, he has a romantic notion that he will get to read it in the playground. He wants to read it before going into school, but there is no time for this. I usher him up the ramp on his scooter.

I talk to my friend on the way. I like these very brief conversations. She will spend the day making some coat hooks for her children from a broom handle. I will spend the day drawing in the studio. I don’t get around to telling her that. I like this woman and her family, they are very good at making and creating and being calm around their children, and clearly it works as the children are lovely and confident and huggy.

The blowy weather makes me want to dance, or walk or ride a bike. I am in the car. I will attempt a walk in the woods at some stage in the day. All this car riding so I can drop Syd off with his crutches is very boring and restrictive. I need to be out in the autumn. I need to cling to the tree leaves until they are gone. I need to see them fall. Kick them. Hold them. Rock them.

DSC_7439-3DSC_7441-3

I remember an artwork by Mierle Laderman Ukeles  Fall Time Variations:  The trees are having their period: Time Slice, where the artist makes a large sanitary towel for an oak tree and carefully gathers up the fallen leaves. Andrea Liss writes about this piece of work in Feminist Art and The Maternal, Chapter 3. 

After Naoise put his scooter behind the school with then other bikes and trikes he found a ball. A red tennis ball. He gave it to me to take home. I pushed it into my coat pocket. One red ball.

Syd was sweet to me this morning he had made a picture frame for me in resistant materials and he wants to put an image of him and me inside. For my birthday he posted up an image of him as a baby resting on the top of my knees. We were in Brighton on the pebbled beach. He looks so tiny and my body looks like a mountain. How different it is now. This morning he told me he wanted to grow a beard. Soon that option will be a possibility. A shadow of a moustache is revealing itself against his upper lip. My boy is becoming a man. He will be my mountain. he will cradle me.

And to drawing now before I become sucked in by this devils mirror.

Research

‘Mental patient’ Halloween costumes: a scientific guide to dressing accurately, Dean Burnett,  Wednesday 21st October 2015, The Guardian