For the past year, Artist Hazel Darwin-Clements has been on maternity leave. Yesterday, we had our first session of the new block of Expecting Something at Lochgelly with Hazel as our lead artist. In this blog marking her return, Hazel considers the ways in which both work and home can support and sustain one another.
The last 9 months have been amazing. Both the hardest and most wonderful time of my life so far. I’ve fallen head over heels in love with this wee guy (who adores me too) and we get to spend all our time hanging out together. Sure, hot cups of tea, going to the toilet without an audience and 4 hours of unbroken sleep are all luxuries of the distant past, but it’s worth every shade of exhaustion and more.
Have I missed work? Yes, I love what I do. I have seen videos and pictures of what you’ve been up to while I was away and I felt sad to miss out; like looking at photos of a party you wished you could have been at. But it’s been a world away; time moves differently and my priorities have been tossed in the air then fallen jumbled in a heap on the floor because I have my hands full holding this precious, wriggling being. How am I feeling about returning to work? Well…
I read a quote yesterday:
The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job. – Annabel Crabb
I don’t want that to be true for me. I’d like to bring the warmth and truth of my mothering to my artistic practice and the empowered feeling I get from working in a creative environment home to my baby. And I work with parents and babies, so if I can’t do that, who can? Thinking about my lifetime, not just this project, sure- I imagine there will be tensions to do with time, money, energies… but the grounded feeling I get as the puzzle pieces of my family slot together will surely carry through to my work life right? I’ll be wiser, wittier, more interesting, excellent at prioritising, and my son will be inspired by tales of my day and proud of my achievements. It won’t just be about grabbing any moment I can to write blogs when he’s asleep will it? Um….
Maybe (before he wakes up) I should write some of the positive things I’ve been learning while mothering that I want to bring back to work to share in this new block of Expecting Something:
- Seizing opportunities: if it is important we will find time. The moment will present and we will simply say yes. If it’s worth worrying about we can do that- but usually it’s not!
- Balancing acts: I’ve been thinking about finding the quality of play that both the parent and baby enjoy. It’s the things that we love as much as each other which are truly golden moments- for us it’s good music, swimming together, bath times, good storybooks. Creating the opportunities for this is tricky. At home there is always something to do- cleaning the fish tank, packing away the tiny babygrows that no longer fit, chipping away at hardened Weetabix you’ve just discovered under the high chair…. but playing together also has to be a priority.
- Creating community: I have been forming some new relationships. I have to ask for help sometimes, I have needed to share my experiences. I have taken on something it’s impossible to do it alone.
- The sun shines on happy people: it’s funny when you have a little reflection of your moods with you. If I beam a smile at him he will beam one back and if I am in a grump so is he. We have a much easier life when we are in a good mood.
- What’s the big hurry? I feel a kind of pressure to ‘fit more in’ building up sometimes- where does it come from? I need to relax. We have the time to stop in the shops while people coo at you. We have the time to hear about their grandchildren and, now that we have started chatting, talk about the weather.
Dates for our sessions at the Lochgelly Centre in Fife are below – if you are or you know someone who would love to participate in weekly arts activities for them and their baby (or babies), please come along to the Lochgelly Centre, Bank Street on Wednesdays from 11.30 – 13.30! Bring along a friend for support if you want!
BLOCK 1: 9 & 26 April, 3 & 10 May
BLOCK 2: 24 May – 21 June
BLOCK 3: 12 July – 9 Aug
BLOCK 4: 23 Aug – 20 Sep
BLOCK 5: 11 Oct – 8 Nov
BLOCK 6: 22 Nov – 20 Dec