Really I should have gone back to sleep seeing as I was up in the night between 1.30am and 2.15am and again as dawn was breaking around 4am when Naoise was hungry and thirsty. I fetched a cup of water and banana for him to eat. We were up again around 6.45am as Naoise wet his onesy. Its been a while since he had a wee accident. I got him up and put him in the shower. He didn’t want to get out to let his dad in. He doesn’t like being hurried along especially when enjoying the warmth of water trickling on his little body.
The washing machine is reaching the crescendo of its cycle and now the sound of the drum slowing down which is like an aeroplane landing.
I have been up packing sandwiches for a day trip to a park with mum and dad. I will meet them around midday. Its good to get out of the valley cradle , Calderdale can feel suffocating if you spend too much time comforted by it. We will see the flat agriculturally rich planes of Cheshire today. We will walk and talk and laugh.
My head is thumping, probably lack of sleep and too much time staring at electronic screens. I enjoyed the peace of the studio yesterday and being able to think straight, though the time flew past and I never get as much done as I would hope.
Have been having a good look at this project and what I have made so far. Its helpful to have a pause, an evaluation. To try and get a grasp of what the subject of this project is. It is a many faceted, complex project. The mundane, observations of the everyday, mothering and domestic work collide with creativity and art making. References to artists, articles about parenting, mothering, feminism.
There are the changing of the seasons, winter through to spring. There are the places that I inhabit, my home, my family, the institution of motherhood. The school, the playground, the institution of education. The fields, the sheep,the lambs, the farm, the meat industry, dry stone walls, the wind, the sun, the rain, the cold, the ice, the hail, the storm, the lightening. There are wild animals, owls, hawks, weasels, rabbits, toads mating. There are dead things lambs, rabbits, toads, hedgehogs….
There are pictures of children sleeping, showering, eating, playing, walking, relaxing. There are images of plastic and clutter and mess and laundry being done. There are images of cooking and baking. There are glimpses of me, a shadow, a family portrait obscured by a child’s hands, a hand dropping a piece of clothing. There are empty prams waiting in a doctors surgery. There are images of my skin and body. There are bars and gates and fences and walls. There are films of black clothes pegs swinging in the wind. A woman meditating in the landscape, her eyes closed, feeling the full force of the winter weather wrap around her face. A bare foot walk in the snow. A child wriggling under a blanket, sitting at the breakfast table picking out and separating raisins from cereal, a primal scream and a homemade earthquake.
Washing machine cycle at an end, beep beep beep
What does it all mean ? There is sadness and love and loss and longing. There are indications of a faltering relationship, of the vulnerabilities of a mother, of her children. A woman trying to keep her family together and in order. There are lists and descriptions of difficult and challenging situations with her children, mainly describing tantrums, and angry outbursts, refusals to go to school. The arguments, conflicts and disputes with her partner are listed but mainly glossed over, she cannot always be honest. She needs to protect herself from emotional harm. This project is not always easy, you cannot write about everything that is happening now, sometimes the dust needs to settle.
There are records and observations. There are lists of things that are being done or have to be done. There is an attempt at honesty. An attempt to describe life just as it is. To tell an ‘other’ story of mothering. Of how a mother maintains her family and her sanity.
There is an awareness of the passing of time. Of cycles. There are circular motifs. There are descriptions of weight loss and the pursuit of wellbeing and “happiness”. There is the sadness of middle age, of a mother that will bare no more children and her attempts at coming to terms with this. There are observations of the wonder of nature, of watching her children grow and learn. There are regrets lists of should’s and could’s and why I did not. There are struggles with sleep deprivation. There is a tension between freedom, entrapment, dependency and the strive for independence, of being together and wanting to be alone. There is an unpicking of what work is, paid work, unpaid work, care work, creative work, domestic work. There is a very unkempt house and a letting go of control……a realisation that failure is the only way forward.
Phone ringing:speak to mum and make arrangements of where to meet her and dad.
The buzzer sounds on the oven as I am speaking to my mum.