It’s finally Friday. I am more than ready to leave this week behind and head on in to the weekend.
Anakin finally pushed that third tooth out only to have three more start to bother him at the same time. Evenings have been too warm for him to get to sleep easily. Nap times have been shorter than usual and rest has been harder to find. I would do anything to take his discomfort for him. Double it, triple it, I don’t care as long as it happens to me and not to him.
Me, I did my own head in a bit this week. I let my doubts and stress get under my skin, leave me too vulnerable. Thankfully I have a little someone to help me keep my priorities straight.
On a sunnier note, 11 months ago today Anakin came into our lives and brought with him more smiles and more love than we could ever possibly have imagined.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect son. I could never have imagined how big my heart could grow and keep growing.
And good Friday to you all! I hope the weekend brings lots of smiles and comfort from those you love.
There’s nothing more irritating than strangers thinking that they’re experts on the needs or general wellbeing of your child. It’s like they think that because they’ve had a baby at some point they must be the people best suited to pass judgement and obviously hold some sort of expertise. Having a baby doesn’t automatically give you a PhD in All Things Baby.
I could have called this post “How to make someone feel like a shit mum” because frankly, that’s exactly how I feel right now. World’s worst mum, folks! Catch her right here! No applause, just rotten tomatoes, thanks!
I’ve probably mentioned that Anakin hasn’t been well for a bit. He still has a cold. Or he has what I, Doctor Mum, think is a cold combined with more teething. Anakin’s had a cold before. It comes with a very barky cough. He sounds like a seal. Last time we freaked out and rushed him to the doctor to make sure he wasn’t dying of whatever sort of disease that makes a baby bark. He was fine, it was just a cold. No need to worry. So, when the young jedi fell sick again and developed the same barky cough I monitored his condition closely, but didn’t freak out. Until today.
Today at the supermarket my little snot ball is smiling away at the checkout lady who’s busy telling me about her own kid. As you do, I suppose. All of a sudden he starts barking like something out of a zoo in a coughing fit. I watch him to make sure he’s ok. His little face goes a bit red as he coughs, but immediately breaks out in a huge smile once he’s done. He hasn’t had a fever and he’s still his excellent young self. The checkout lady looks at him then guns me down with eyes raging with blame. “That sounds like croup! My son had croup and he ended up in hospital! Have you had him checked out? He needs to see a doctor!” Wow, could you possibly have said that any louder, lady? I’m not sure the entire supermarket heard you. I can feel eyes in the back of my head staring at me, waiting for my answer. “Uhm.. no, I haven’t taken him to a doctor, but I might take him tomorrow. I’m fairly sure he’s fine. He’s just got a cold.” “A cold? Sounds like croup to me! They sounds like that when they have croup. Take him to a doctor! He could be very ill!”
I mumble something in return, grab my groceries and get the hell out of there before someone hands me a tiara and a “World’s worst mum” ribbon. Thanks, Doctor Checkout lady, for that thorough examination of my son’s health and my mothering abilities. There’s probably a thousand things you could have said to express your (unwanted) concern that wouldn’t have left me feeling like the biggest shit around. There’s nothing I care more about than the welfare of my own kid, and now, thanks to you, I am freaking out. I have googled croup and figured out that yes, there might be the slight chance that my kid has what they call mild croup. Maybe. It still might also just be a cold.
It’s not like I haven’t considered taking him to a doctor sooner, but I’m just not one of those mums who screams bloody murder every time my son coughs. I monitor, I assess, I keep a bloody close eye on him. As does his pappa. But I am taking him tomorrow. Not just because the checkout lady made me paranoid and feeling like the world’s worst mum, but because he’s been sick a bit on and off for two weeks and we’d rather be safe than sorry going in to the weekend.
For the record, I am a goddamn excellent mum. Even I know that. Most of the time.
More than a few times over the past months I have had to remind myself that there is a lot more to me than just being Anakin’s mum. I have been a practising artist for years and all of a sudden my art has had to take the backseat for a while. It was hardly noticeable at first, but in the past couple of months I have really begun to miss it.
During my pregnancy I struggled to go out and do large photo shoots. The last successful photo shoot I did was at 3 months at Hanging Rock in Victoria, Australia. It was cold, wet and the hardest shoot I’ve ever had to do, both technically and physically.
I make light paintings (they are photographs, not paintings) so I work outside at night. As I got bigger this represented more than one issue; I got too tired at night to last very long and I couldn’t manage to log all my gear around. My shoots usually involve larger set ups and a lot of planning. I attempted another one around 5 months, but dealing with water rats due to my use of a pig’s head and other edibles in a creek was too much and I had to abandon it. So while my belly grew I resorted to building props and planning for future shoots thinking I’d be back in the game in no time.
Before Anakin was born I had a lot of ideas of images I wanted to do with him in them. I pictured everything from the classical newborn portrait as a light painting to larger set ups with various taxidermy and other props that would be included in my current body of work. But I didn’t count on my little man not being a good sleeper, and there is just no way of light painting anyone that isn’t perfectly still for the duration of the exposure. So a few days ago I had to come to terms with the fact that I will never get those images. For Anakin to be a part of my night work he will have to grow a lot older. This realisation made me fairly sad.
What I miss most about my work is that it creates balance in my life. My work is dark, it plays with ideas around horror and humour, it reflects on issues of displacement; both cultural and from reality. Now that I am a mum everything can sometimes become just too cute, too adorable, too goo goo ga ga. I need balance. I need to feel like I am still me.
In December my maternity leave ends and I’ll have one year to finish my Masters and write my thesis, or… a couple of months to upgrade to a PhD. And my project is currently way too big to finish in one year unless I evolve into some sort of superhuman. All the while I will still be a full-time mum. I still find the idea of how to pull this off mind-boggling. But in having said that I am very excited about getting back into it. I am itching to get back out in the night as soon as it gets a bit warmer and I can’t wait to get a bit of gore out of my system.
The above image is Anakin’s favourite. It hangs in our stairwell and every time we pass it he smiles and has a giggle. Perhaps he senses his uncle Eirik under the mask though they have never met, or perhaps he just gets my kind of humour.
So far the only participation Anakin has had in my life as an artist is coming to the opening of the show in Sydney, and at that he did remarkably well considering it was way past his bedtime.
I suppose it’s just a matter of learning the balancing act between work and baby. I have never been particularly good at time management because i have never had to be, and my post-Anakin life has never had enough hours in the day or days in the week. And the very few hours of free time I have at night are only so precious I haven’t had it in me to use them for work.
As I write this while Anakin is napping it seems only ironic that I spend this time ranting about how I have had no time for my art when I in fact could have spent the past hour or so doing something about it. But then again, I deserve some lunch and a time out too, don’t I? I take comfort in that my mind never stops thinking about my work or coming up with ideas for images regardless of what I am doing, so I guess it’s only a matter of time, right?
Alright, before anyone thinks my life as a mum is The Sound of Music, let me just stop you right there. It’s not. I hate musicals. Too much singing and dancing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother. Most of the time. I think my son is absolutely divine, I love him more than I can ever possibly explain. I adore our little family and I have a fantastic partner of 7.5 years (who probably doesn’t get credit for being great half of the time). And I’m going through a very sentimental stage at the moment, the “my baby’s growing up so fast” one, so I understand if things read a bit like the sound of music right now.
But it’s not all glamorous or always hunky dory. Most days I look like I’ve just walked through a wind tunnel. I haven’t had a haircut in ages. It takes me half a day to get in the shower. I wear my pj’s for most of the day. I haven’t finished an artwork in a year (YIKES!!). I used to consider myself quite intelligent and good at what I do. Since I became pregnant my brain has not been at its sharpest. Today I found myself washing dishes from the dishwasher that were already clean. At one point in my pregnancy I couldn’t remember how many days were in a year. I guessed 252, convinced it had to have 52 in it and there was no way there were over 300. I was stumped when Steinar told me it had 365 days. Whenever I attempt to do any form of research my brain refuses to compute what I am doing. Everything baby sticks, everything else does not. My website, the one thing out there that informs the world of my work, isn’t even up and running at the moment. I just haven’t had the time to get it back up. (Shame..shame..shame!!)
All of a sudden I look like the cliché mum, vomit stains all over, hair in every direction and like I have no time to tend to myself, which I don’t. I think I used to look at least half decent. These days I leave the house not noticing that my crotch is full of regurgitated food and that I look more like a middle aged scarecrow than an early thirties mum. There is usually no time to put the yummy in my mummy, and it sometimes makes me feel pretty shit.
I haven’t waxed my legs since… i don’t even remember. I wear clothes for their practical function for breastfeeding, not for their style or great look. (I miss my wardrobe so much!) Because I share my body with my baby all day I have (a lot of) days where I am probably the least pleasant partner to be around because I just want to be left alone. I miss me time. I also miss us time.
I’d love to have more time to read… something other than “Where is the green sheep?”. I’d love to have a day where I didn’t have to be on a schedule and always three steps ahead of what needs to be done.
I’m tired. Pretty much all the time. And let’s not forget to complain about how I haven’t had a good nights sleep in… forever. I don’t even know what that means anymore.
There. I just had to get that out. Now I can go back to being sentimental, doting and in love with my son. Because some days it really is like the sound of music. (Yes, even with the singing and the dancing.)