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The life of a 'mummy' Artist

..not the kind enbalmed and wrapped in a cotton shroud of course.

It is the queen of  paradoxes. Being mum is the most rewarding of privileges in life; yet we might dare ask the question why do we still feel unfulfilled?

Remember Nicola Horlick? Being Supermum, the icon for "you can have it all". Somehow I don't buy the that..I'm struggling some days. Yes the most important part of my life is of course my child, undoubtedly.   Everything amounts to nothing if she is not ok.  I know that. But is that it? Since April 2020 #lockdown,  life as we know it has altered forever;  What is the new 'normal'?  I don't think my life was normal pre-pandemic to be honest. My life, the last four years, has pretty much been like that of a single mum trudging through thick and thin and I've really not had a moment to focus on my career. Are there mums out there like me, a spouse/partner married to a job off site?  it became a joke in our house - single without the thrills of being single!! This is not diminishing the real plight of single mums, I'm simply saying I was in no man's land. I've been waging war internally; vacant husband, being mum, 'keeping mum' about the internal struggle I've had. There were momentus shifts in my health, not only on a physical level but also emotionally.

Oprah says when you find yourself in the midst of a storm, you have to  become still, like the eye of the storm. The eye is the clearest and calmest part of the storm. We all need clarity and clarity comes from silence.  Silence comes from removal from distractions, noise and the cacophony of daily life. I was in no man's land ever waiting for that strength and support that I knew my husband provides for us, when he's here.

Then came lockdown and with that came the forced silence...all external noise gone in an instant. It's as though Thanos had worked his magic! And for me it was like the hurricane around me that I had been struggling to manage, had imploded...suddenly the eye of the storm projected outwards - no people, no shops, no work. The hurricane was within. We, collectively as humans were forced to live in a nuclear way. Husband back thankfully, though unplanned. I had what I needed most ... my family together. Yeay! yeaaa urrhh oh? We all know the rest of that.  Sucked inside an apartment, no where to go, nothing to do, in each others' ways, news of death tolls, panic buying, conspiracy stories and the desperate search for a vaccination.  We thought it would be for a few months, that turned into a year, then it  spread to a second year....now it's here to stay it seems.

In that year and a bit, my daughter has matured so much, taught us and herself, so much about the human condition.  We have grown together, travelled in time; almost watching time pass through a lens, seeing seconds, minutes, hours turn into non days, non weeks, then non months. Aaah yes, and then there was homeschooling.. well wow! Excuse me, can I just swear for a moment? @£$%^^&*(()&^%^%$$£@!

The eye of the storm was conflated. Outside was calm but inside every household was the storm: every hospital, every care home, every morgue, every family. Yet I have to celebrate that we are still here, we are strong, Alhamdulillah. focused on gratitude for what gratitude is - the laser focus on the small things that make the big things ok in the end. Grateful that women know how to survive, how to rise and how to raise. Yes we do it messy; I do messy, but in the end I'm I'm still here to share this.  And I wonder why I am not mummified yet?

It's that messy space that made me realise 'mumhood', powerful though it is, it is not me in my entirety. Reality bites: it is uncomfortable to shed  layers of guilt, and responsibility.  The realisation that I, in my wholeness, am more powerful than being a mom.  And so be it,  here is no guilt, no shame, no brazenness, just silent nod to my expansive self. When my daughter sees me as more than mum, surely she is more empowered because of this.  We want them to rise, we have to be that example.

Workwise, I played truant in the beginning of lockdown. My airbnb room was no longer an option during lockdown and so the studio was reborn out of that room. But I played truant. Then came the project - the carpet project and I said yes. But I still played truant. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a global hurricane to raise an artist. I know why I played truant, because guilt, imposter syndrome, procrastination played havoc with me. I must make sure my child is ok, art can wait. Home is first priority, my family are my first priority; art can wait. We have to live first: art can wait. Then crept up eons of social conditioning of women that has dented our collective DNA, of course I'm feeling guilty, like most of my girlfriends. But that happens only when I am ok within myself, comfortable in my own skin, about to do what I love.   That's when the guilt plays tricks. But following my heart's call, creating art- making a living from something I love doing - this is not being selfish, rather it is self-nurturing and I had to retrain my brain to believe that. Art completes me when all other aspects of my life are running concurrently. Coming back to the same question.. does motherhood complete me? I think it made me grow into a powerhouse and still does but it is not all of me. I say this with great deliberation as mummyhood came to be after a long fraught struggle that unfolded a tiny miracle before my very eyes 10 years ago. Our tenacity and our experience, the scars of fighting some social conditioning, some DNA wiring of our  neuronetworks will live beyond us to tell our daughters a different story.    We are their first role models as parents.

Society has made us act and think in ways that are far too limiting. As a believer in the Divine, when I place trust and central focus on God, I do a very important thing. I answer my own calling.. you don't have to rely on dogma or others' opinions, really you don't. You rely on a supernatural connection that no human voice match. The silence in contemplation is void of judgement and clarifies my Truth. But it takes courage to be consistent, and I do falter.  By nature we angle all thoughts from an egocentric perspective and it takes conscious effort  to break free from that. My child will always believe that I was born to be their mother, my spouse will say something else, my parents another etc etc... people feed you with their own projections of who you ideally should be.  You need that 'silent voice' to centre you again and keep you en pointe.

Due diligence, being present and embracing the mess. I am learning to love being a 'mummy' artist. And she loves it too. And so does he, my wonderfully supportive partner. I get to be lioness, queen, "boss of me " when I get to be 'artist' me.

I recommend reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.


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