Gone

8.38 am ( awake since 6.30am)

Syd is on his way to Paris, right now he is on a boat crossing the channel from Dover to Calais. I dropped him off half an hour before midnight at the school. All families bidding goodbyes to teenage sons and daughters with bags and pillows and excitement. Always awkward being a teenager, its always hard to show affection. I say goodbye to Syd a sort of shoulder rub and half hug, thats ok, I understand. Its just not hip to be too affectionate with your parents in public.

Before he went we watched one of his favourite films Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris……

I hear small feet descending on the stairs, I may not manage too much writing today. Naoise is now sat beside me wrapped in a blanket, playing a game on my phone. I am not really happy that the digital babysitter is being used by me. This all seems a bit wrong. Not parenting so that I can write about the maternal?

Maybe I will watch one film set in Paris for each day that he is gone, my friend Krishna compiled a list for me.

1/ A Bout de Souffle (Breathless) 

2/400 Blows

3/Les amants du Pont-Neuf

4/La Haine

5/Amelie

There is really not much to say, I will try not to miss Syd, to cling to his being gone. I will make use of this time. The house looks as if a tornado has passed through it. There is much work to be done. I will  use the time to shower Naoise with my undivided attention. It will be less work to look after one than two. It will be fun. Today we will go to The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield see the Lynda Benglis exhibition and I will try and do a little research, get inspired, devise the context for a presentation about Barbara Hepworth that I have to deliver on Thursday.

Mum come on Mum come on, begs Naoise, I am waiting. 

It is better to play with Naoise than write this…..

naoisehidingbehindsnuffle

 

 

F***ing Friday Failure

1pm ( awake in night, woke at 3am and got up at 7am)

I need to write about failure, a mothers failure. This feels like a confessional. I fail. I fail on a daily basis. Its impossible not to fail, but its harder to admit to failing, to describe those failures.

I will try to best to describe an incident of failure. Failure to care in a considered way. Failure to be patient and kind. I worry about writing this. I worry about how you might judge me. I do feel judged. Some people are kind others just judge, they don’t know about the complexities of a situation, how challenging things can be for me and my children, what else is going on in my families life. I worry that I am breaking rules, that someone will read this and think she isn’t a good enough mother, she can’t cope, maybe even report me to social services.

Perhaps they do not judge, maybe I am just paranoid and overcome by troublesome feelings of doubt in my own parenting. I am not writing this so that you feel sorry for me. I just feel that I have to record it, once the words are written it is done, I can forgive myself, move on. Oh mothers guilt, mothers guilt.

For goodness sake stop pussy footing around the subject, spit it out woman, say what you mean to say. See, I struggle, I struggle. My little boy really did not want to go to school today, this has been an emerging pattern over the last few weeks or so. He is very determined and stubborn. He is so slow in the morning, he sits at the table with his snuffly sheet shrouded over him. Slowly waking up. Eventually he will eat, drink, but its so slow, so painfully slow. I shift from being totally patient, to fed up and bursting over with frustration and panic. I can be so calm, I can be, but the clock ticks fast in the morning. I cannot be late again. I cannot. Its not gone unnoticed, its more normal that I am late than on time right now, like yesterday when I delivered him to school mid assembly.

He basically had a massive tantrum this morning. He knew why he didn’t want to go to school, he was too tired, too tired from all the fun that he had yesterday at him and his friends joint birthday party. I am too tired I want to stay at home with you, I am not going to school today, he declared. The day before he told me I am not going to school today, it is raining, I will get wet. 

But today was worse. I did manage to get food down him,  I did manage to get him to drink his milk, and even to colour in the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust wellington boot picture. Its Wellington Boot day at school today. I look, this picture now and it is just so so sweet and lovely and adorable. Two little mice and lovely rich wedges of colouring in felt pen. And he writes I like wildlife kus it is kyoot (cause it is cute).

DSC_2090redmice

I didn’t manage to get him to brush his teeth, or his hair, or put on his jumper. Today was horrid because he sat on the sofa and wrapped snuffly, his king sized duvet sheet around and around his arms and body. He wrapped himself up so tight that the cotton material began to form ropes around his wrists and hands and arms. He was wrapping himself in, and keeping me out. What a protest.

I kept unwrapping him, it just felt like a fight, it was almost a fight, maybe it was a fight. I was just trying to separate him from the comforter, so that I could get him out the door, get him to school. I would have been tripping over the sheet if I had attempted to take that too. He also decided to take off his wellington boots that I had already put back on twice. He took them off and threw them across the room. I stuffed the boots, his coat, his jumper and his tooth paste and brush into a plastic carrier bag. I would try and brush his teeth at school, get out the door, get dressed on the way to school, there are plenty of benches, places to sit and get him dressed en route.

Before I am able to scoop him up, I still need to separate him from the sheet. I start trying to unpick the twisted sheet from around his hands and arms, as quick as I undo, he twists the sheet back up. The sheet is twisting and twisting. I unpick and unpick. I push my fingers under the cloth where it meets his hands. He shrieks, but its not clear if he is just making a fuss or I have really hurt him. It is not my intention to hurt him at all, this is the last resort. I was stern, I did ask him to let go of the sheet, he would not, and the clock was ticking, time always moves on, always moves forward, it never waits. I eventually manage to part him from the sheet. He is crying. He is distressed and upset and its partly my fault, I haven’t kept my cool. I do hope that things change when we leave the house, close the door.

Things seem to get worse, but I am so glad to be out in the fresh air. Outside Naoise decides to run down the stone pavement of the street, he only has socks on. He runs about fifty yards away from me, not far, everyone has gone to work, no cars, its not dangerous, its a dead end of a street. He runs away and I follow him, but before I reach him he decides to take off his socks. So I now have a barefooted child running loose around outside. I scoop him up, cross the road. I speak to my neighbour who has just returned from the school run in her car, she can see that I am distressed. She is kind and listens and tries to suggest that Naoise should put on his socks. I explain what has happened. Oh Naoise your feet must be cold. She reminds him that its friday it will be the weekend, you can have a rest.

I stop by the wall and try to put on his socks, his jumper, his coat and boots, he still refuses to do so. I notice that one of his hands has a little cut on it, just a nick. He must have caught the top of my finger nail when I was removing him from the the sheet. Its bleeding, its a tiny cut, but its bleeding. I cusp his hand in mine, I look at the cut, I feel bad, I say sorry that I hurt him. I am sorry, so sorry. I feel sad. I put him on my shoulders. We walk to school, I cannot remember what we said to each other, maybe nothing. I felt bad about his little hand, ,he is so tiny, so elfin like. I hadn’t meant to hurt him.

Just before we reach the school, he tells me he will put on his clothes. We sit on a bench, I sit him on my knee. His feet are cold and red and hurting him. I rub them warm, put the socks on quick, he still refuses to put on the jumper, I put on his coat, his boots. He still won’t walk, I carry him until we reach the gates. We are so so late. So ridiculously late.

I ring the bell, the catch lets me in. I pass a couple of teaching assistants in the corridor, although my eyes meet theirs, they ignore me, they don’t even smile, or say hello to me or Naoise. In the classroom are three kind teaching assistants. I explain that we have had a hard morning, that its a miracle that we even got here, that he is tired, that he has been refusing to come to school. Its PE, he has to change for PE. I help him into his shorts, hang up his coat on the peg. I reiterate that he is very tired, please remember, please remember. I even admit to having his tooth brush with me, I get it out show them it, there is not point, there won’t be a chance to brush his teeth, I place it back in the carrier bag. His hair is also a mess all tangle bed hair. I stroke his head, I kiss him goodbye. He smiles, he is a different child now, not wild anymore. School makes him comply. Thats good, school is good. I need a rest. I do.

I go for a walk, I notice that some primroses have come out, that the birds are getting more active. I notice a clump of moss that has almost broken off  a dry stone wall, I pull it off, place it in a carrier bag, I imagine doing something with it. The moss becoming a scarf, or a sheet around my body, my comfort blanket.

I stop at the supermarket, I buy some things that my eldest son needs for hi strip to Paris. Medicine, food, tissues, yes I am stressed, its a big thing your son going abroad on his own. I am stressed. I need to make sure that he has everything that he needs. Back home I start drying jeans and clothes on the radiator. I try to rewrite a proposal about this project for a conference. The title of my presentation is Failure and maternal imperfection. I have to edit out 150 words from my proposal, I have to get it down to 400. Its now two, I need to eat, Ive been writing for far too long.

Forgive me for I have failed.

 

The day after my babies sixth birthday

7.00am (been up since 6am)

I am not sure why I am even bothering to open up my computer as I am very much cutting it fine, there is no time to write anything of worth. A quick sketch maybe. Naoise birthday was good, and went much as expected. He spent five hours building lego. My mum and dad came over to spend some time with him. My dad is worse than my teenage son and spent the entirety of the evening staring at his mobile phone. I shouldn’t complain at least he was present. My favourite model that Naoise made was that of a small kitten with ears, mouth and eyebrows that moved. I held him in the palm of my hand and imagined him real. Naoise has called him cat cat.

I have been up making a large chocolate cake for Naoise and his dear friends joint birthday party. Such a big cake, I do hope that it turns out ok, there is more at risk as the quantities of ingredients are increased. So much sugar, so much fat, so much flour, not enough eggs but its alright as I have found that milk binds a cake just fine. I made chocolate mice to run around its circumference, and I want to make some squirrels for the top. Naoise did request squirrels. One of his favourite books is all about red squirrels. He loves an illustration within it that depicts a squirrel sleeping with its tail curled around its body. So sweet. So sweet.

I am running out of time to get Syd ready for his Paris trip. He keeps wearing the clothes that I have washed for him to take, its driving me bananas.

I need to get the family up, dress Naoise, coax Patrick and Sydney out of bed. No time for this.

My baby is six today

6.45 am (been awake since 5.45am)

Where does time go? You slipped into our lives six years ago, I say slip because your birth was slow and long and calm, perhaps too calm. It was also scary. and frightening, and shocking and amazing and wonderful. Your entrance gentle, quiet. Every new baby is but an angel to their waiting parents. You were blonde with downy hair and big ice blue eyes all crunched up awaiting to unfurl. A fresh spring leaf.

Our love for you is boundless. To infinity and beyond and back again. I love you more than words can say. All of that tacky “sentimental” stuff does have meaning. My second son take all these words and phrases wrap yourself up in them, take comfort from the passions of parents.

After you were born I spent a week camped out in my bedroom, feeding, feeding, feeding, changing, changing, changing, watching, watching, watching, day became night and night became day, one endless party to newness and helplessness. I also developed a teenage crush on Nick Cave, I hugged the copy of NME close to me. Me and Nick would make it through each night, he would provide the sound track to my babies first year. I would play this track Breathless again and again, dance around my little front room, feel ecstatic about you, jiggle out trapped wind, wrap my arms around and around our love.

For it is love, it must be that provides the endurance to continue to care when you have no energy left at all. When all you want to do is sleep and rest. When your head feels totally numb and just getting up, getting dressed, washing yourself is almost impossible. Who would have thought that such a tiny human being could cause such havoc. It is easy, so easy to forget the intensity of this time. In the forgetting probably comes romantic notions about what it really was like, idealisation.


I made a big chocolate cake disaster. I baked the cake as you lost yourself in Mine Craft and your brother strummed his guitar. The cake cooked fine, but when I got it out of the tin it broke into four pieces Patrick was distracting me with a rant about the Green Party leader, I should have been more careful. I got annoyed with him. I shouldn’t have snapped. The cake broke real bad.  A large cross formed from the broken quarters. Baking failure. Big no, wrong, incorrect. The children poked and ripped at it as if wild dogs to a kill. I will have to make it again. Ahhhhhhh


I’ve been up since early wrapping presents for little Naoise, he has to go to school today, but I am sending him with a packet of chocolate buttons for each child in his class. Chocolate is important. Chocolate bonds friendships and love and family. How Naoise loves chocolate.

Mum and dad are coming over tonight and my next door neighbour. We will watch him blow out candles, sing praises to his birth and assist him in constructing lego models.

My neighbour’s son was also born on this day, he is a man, all grown up. How special it is that we share our sons birthdays. When Naoise was born she bought around bowls of fresh fruit for me to eat, she made sure that I was ok, and she adored our new baby.


 

 

 

Calculations

7.30 am (awake since 6.45am)

I am cutting it fine with the time this morning, they are all sleeping.

I get Naoise dressed into his uniform each day then he crawls back into bed and has a lie in for an extra hour, he never wants to wake in the morning, he loves his bed.

Patrick went to bed at 2.40am as he was working late on some freelance work, I know the exact time he went to bed because I heard him stumbling around the stairs and landing so I woke up too.

Syd stayed up trying to find a moment for me and him to watch a TV programme but by the time Naoise was asleep, I was struggling to keep my eyes awake.

They have all requested that I wake them up at different times, Syd 7.45am, Patrick 8.00am and Naoise didn’t actually request a time for me to wake him up at all, in fact he told me that he was going to stay at home today. There is no way that Naoise is staying home today. I am desperate to get back to the studio to make some physical marks.

schoolroadmarkings

I spent 3 weeks of the last 6 week term nursing ill children at home, I need to get my pencils out and work. Working, making art, settles my busy mind. I am also keen to try and get some more paid work…..I need to apply for jobs, art opportunities and create some more short courses, and I want to organise some exhibition/event opportunities for myself and others. I have decided its pointless applying for art opportunities that I could better organise myself.  I will write a list and if I can just move through it, cross some things off then maybe my situation will change, maybe.

Naoise turns six tomorrow. One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six……so we have spent

5 years 11 months 30 days
or 71 months 30 days
or 312 weeks 6 days
or 2,190 days
or 52,560 hours
or 3,153,600 minutes
or 189,216,000 seconds

together.

And this doesn’t include the ten months of cooking in my womb, the slowly awakening, quickening into life, the feeling of feet and legs and body turning and twisting from within a tight space. Its a lot of time together.

He has asked for a cake with a sleeping  squirrel and little mice on it, nothing like being set a challenge. I love a bit of cake making and decorating.

 

 

 

Don’t feel like writing

11am

Ive been up since 7am. Naoise back at school, Syd still at home, its one of those random teacher training days.  Don’t feel like writing and staring at the screen. Wet day yesterday, spent most of it inside, drawing, drinking tea, too much mine craft. The children both produced super drawings, I love Naoise fatree/factory and Syd is clearly thinking about his upcoming trip to Paris with his mini Eiffel tower and self portrait.

headandeffiltowerfatree

 

I took Syd fishing in the pond. All he caught was our umbrella that fell into the brown water. Darkness fell and we returned home. Got to get weighed tomorrow and I am dreading it, I am quite sure I have put on weight as the diet and exercise went out of the window over the half term break. Motherhood should come with a health warning, its just so hard to keep well whilst caring for others. Its so hard to find space and time to nurture the self.

As Syd is off to Paris at the end of the week,  I have been thinking of sitting him down to watch some french films to prepare, I asked my friend Krishna for his top recommendations. He mentioned this film Rendevous by Claude Lebouch made in 1976. Its a high speed car chase through the streets of  Paris in a Porsche.

http://youtu.be/37xiW4j0TtI

Us & Them

7.14 am

I had panned to lie in but I am awake. Why is it that I am always awake when I hope to lie in? Sore eyes, muggy, but I am awake. I’m sat in bed writing, I do want to have a rest, fall back to sleep, dream of nothing. But I can’t.

One, two, three, four, five, six pigeons sitting on the ridge of the mill roof. Beside me Patrick, soundly sleeping, its Sunday so there are few cars on the road.

My body is drained, I shouldn’t have had so much heavy red wine to drink, but then, we so rarely get out, it would be a shame not to celebrate the occasion, I think its been about a year since we had a night out together, but to be honest I couldn’t actually remember when it last was, so maybe longer.

We held hands walking down the road. We clunked glasses together with a dear friend, sounded our  cheers.  My friend always looks glamorous, Monroe hair, black dress, black lacy bra, cleavage, curves; she points out that my lipstick had spread all over my teeth. I am clumsy at glamour.

We ate a meal at a corner table for two in the restaurant upstairs from the bar. Cheap Tai food, bowls of spicy soup followed by red curry. Music and the sound of talk sweeps upwards. We discuss politics, the upcoming election who will vote for who. Politics in our house stretch from red sea to the green lawn . There will be heated discussions over the next few months. I wonder if our votes will count for anything, change anything, better anything. I always vote, always, women, and men laid down their lives so that we could vote. Us/Them. We talk about art, we talk about the children, we talk about our mothers, about ageing and health. We talk uninterrupted and sip from our glasses. We sometimes disagree. There is always a little conflict bubbling under the surface, its probably what keeps us together.

One, two , pigeons sitting on the ridge of the mill roof. Mum and Dad looked after the children so that we could go out, it was only for a couple of hours, just long enough.

I switched the heating on, its clear and cold outside, maybe there has been a frost. I am not a fan of the dark side of the year I see though that it is getting lighter.

The bulbs are pushing up.

It was gone six last evening, and the sky was only just beginning to blacken to night as our car drove back into the arms of the valley.

We spent Saturday running around a National Trust house with my parents. Our house is a tiny two up two down workers terrace, but a stately home is big and has plenty of room for romping and stomping. There is something about National Trust places that makes me want to misbehave. It is easy to misbehave. There are so many do not touch signs, red ropes to keep you out, volunteers to direct you in a one way direction around a designated, controlled path of reverent nostalgic heritage. Very controlled. Lips pursed. Bottom clenched. Stand up straight. Don’t fart. I don’t feel at all reverent or respectful of a palaces built out of the slavery of the common man.

Boring and strange portraits of aristocracy, pale, fragile, waif children in fancy clothes standing beside fierce thick set hunting dogs. Long mahogany polished table lain with sparkling crystal goblets and empty plates of imaginary feasts. Heavy carved wood of four poster beds, intricately embroidered throws, proud standing baths resting on dismembered lions feet, pristine servants quarters cleansed and emptied of toil, silenced harpsichords, guilty gold leaf flora and fauna, large mirrors reflecting inward, red leathered books, blue veined vases and the blood, sweat and labour of  lost souls swept under carpets and tidied away.

The volunteers/sentry guards of this place seem ok, they don’t frown at my boys squabbling and romping and running down red carpeted corridors. The children’s rebellious running reminds me of a  scene from Goddard’s film , Band a Part, where  the main characters run through the corridors of the Louvre.

The boys have no interest in heritage, but they do enjoy the space, the acoustics, poking at things that you shouldn’t. Naoise finds the inner mechanism of the outside clock. You can see its wooden pendulum swing, and it makes a lovely tick, tock, tick, tock hollow sound.

We run outside in the garden, more silly signs saying “don’t walk on the grass, the bulbs are sleeping”. So many do’s and don’ts rules and regulations inviting me to misbehave. We walk around the lake, where Mr Darcy of Pride and Prejudice rose. I throw my arms around his handsome torso and whisper sensually in his ear. Maybe I will buy a tea towel with his image upon it, and now he is embracing me and my washing up.

Meanwhile my Mr Darcy is snoring beside me in bed. An alarm on a wrist watch sounds. I need sleep, my head is spinning again from the red wine hangover.

Patrick took some photographs of me on the lawn in front of the house, I am playing, pretending that the stately house is my home.  I’m trying to pose like a model from Tattler, I’m trying to look like a debutant, the landed classes- I am trying too hard, I am not sure that I am pulling off the look…….I am trying to look demure, polite, passive, proud. This isn’t much of a revolt, I need to revolt. I need revolution. I need to change.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We all need bread and roses.

I am sick of Downton Abbey ( though I’ve never actually watched it), Harry Potters, Doctor Who’s in bow ties that look like Tory Party leaders, pointless competitions about baking cake, and empty stately homes that belonged to them  that now pretend to be for us but that can only be reached by car, and are only accessible to those that behave and follow the rules. I am sick of behaving,  how should  a family behave? I am sick of compliance and fitting in. Its all too nice here, its all a veneer, its all a veneer. Its all about pretend, make believe, control, cleaning up, pushing under.

FIGHT BACK art needs to FIGHT BACK.

I need to fight back, I need to do more than petition click with my mouse, that’s too easy, I need to demonstrate with mind and body. I need to stand up. I need to be physically present. This is all too polite, all too clean, words are not actions.

I need to act, make a mark, not just write. I need to combine voice and body and mind and art. I need to stir it, mix it, bake it, make a delicious devilish cake.

Energy

7.20am


Late to bed at 1am. Later Naoise wets bed. Give him shower, dry him, new pyjamas on, back to bed. Requests for warm milk and banana. I roll over and ignore him, thankfully we both fall back to sleep. Later still, complaints about growing pains in his arm, I grunt back, I think of fetching paracetomol from the kitchen, but thankfully we both fall back to sleep.


Sweat, pushing, bare chests, pushing, jumping, hands in the air.

Sweat, dancing on a friends shoulders, jubilation.

Sweat, greasy bare chest and muscles.

Sweat, bashing and banging and loud loud sound.

Sweat, drum, beat, chest, banging, loud, loud, loud.

Sweat, crashing, bass sound, chest muscles, flesh, loud, loud.

Sweat, ecstatic, plastic beer glasses, crush, bare chest muscles gleaming.

Sweat, jumping, pushing, forming a circle, pushing, holding up.

Sweat, chests beating chests, loud, loud, loud.

Sweat, swearing, chests colliding, loud, loud, loud.


Wonderful time out with Syd at NME awards gig in Leeds. Wonderful time so amazing to be here with my son, surrounded by all the beautiful young people, feel so great to be alive. Wonderful to watch my son, so happy, so enraptured…….Wonderful time out with Syd until I realised that we had to leave the gig early and only three songs into the main act. ……..I cannot believe that the last train back home on a Friday night from Leeds is 10.35 am, totally rubbish, totally rubbish, I should have driven, I should have driven.

Awful stress running to catch the last train home partly because I had left it to the last possible moment to leave. Syd struggled to breath as we ran, he almost had an asthma attack. He was gutted that we had to leave. I was gutted that we had to leave.

We did manage to catch the train. We were both angry, and hurt and disappointed that we had to leave. Syd scowled at me, if looks could kill. Syd was in tears, great big rolling tears. Syd put his hoody right up over the top of his head, tied the string tight. Locked out the world. I pushed a chocolate biscuit onto his knee, he ignored it. He ignored me. We moved from ecstasy to deep down disappointing teenage emotional dreadfulness. High. Low.

I loved what we did see, I loved it. Massive amounts of energy and passion and loudness and sweat, but I did f**k up on the plans, and I really should have checked the timetable, I should have driven. Bloody mothers guilt, slipping from awesome parent to lets blame the parent, lets blame myself parent. I need to get a reality check, I am an awesome parent, my parents would never have dreamed of taking me to a gig, a proper sweaty, rebellious, rocking gig. I give my son the most amazing experiences, and he is the most amazing teenager. Teenagers rock, they do, especially when you can rock with them. I am not too sorry. I loved the moment, I loved being out with Syd, I loved what I saw, crowds swelling and young men joyous and beautiful and full of life, full of it, bubbling over in raw energy both on the stage and in the crowds.

I tucked red eyed, tired, sad, rock kid into bed, gave him a hug, switched off his lights. I then drank wine and cheered myself up listening to some music with Patrick. I never learn that cider and red wine really are the worst ever combination. My head hurts.


 

Fight the power

07.54 (alarm sounded at 6.45am probably should have switched it off)

I bored the pants off my gorgeous partner yesterday, talking about rejection and trying to understand where it is that I am going wrong, why I am struggling to get any success with the opportunities that I am applying for. Unpicking how people think, how selection processes work, personal and political agendas.

I am an artist a mother and a feminist. I think that my work does push boundaries and does work from within a feminist framework, and that it is of a high quality. I value the work that I make and I know that others do too. What I cannot comprehend then is why it gets rejected from those opportunities that are forged from within an established feminist discourse.

It was suggested to me that I am an outsider. Perhaps I am an outsider.

I thought that feminism was about diversity, supporting others, reaching out, holding hands together, making headway as a group strengthened by their solidarity. I thought that it was about representing work that is challenging, and that for what ever reason struggle’s to get seen. I thought that it was about breaking down power structures, reaching beyond the self, the ego, reaching out to others.  I thought that it was about working towards equality for all. I thought that it wasn’t about quality control or boundaries, I thought that it was about raising consciousness and a voice about being inclusive. I thought that it was about love and respect. Sisters who rejected me, I am disappointed.

I must move on though, be positive, remember that this is about patience and perseverance and that just  because your doors slam shut in my face, it does not mean that other doors will not swing open, let me in, except my thoughts, ideas, and questions.

I am good at DIY and working outside of the establishment. I will gather up my troops and soldier on. I have already scribbled down at least five projects that I would like to instigate. Its not that I don’t have the imagination, the ideas, the passion and the know how, its just that I feel tired and worn down,  I have less time than perhaps I once did. Not just time but head space. Not just head space but money to help make the ideas a reality. Its harder when you are a mother when you have responsibilities outside of your arts practice. It does make things trickier. Perhaps I am just making excuses. Perhaps I am loosing the will to fight. Perhaps today, this week I just feel done in, its the half term after all and I am juggling too many balls at once. I am not that good at juggling.


My eldest son sang his heart off at a gig last night. He is a singer song writer, he has passion originality, a beautiful sweeping voice, varied, full of emotion and power. He inspires me. His strength, his perseverance, his modesty. He loves what he does and he just stands up and gets on with it. I need to look to him and follow his example. This is the track that he was playing in the car on our journey to his gig.

 


 

 

 

A day at work/ A day out in Manchester

7.59am (half term holidays, awake since 6.45)

I hate waking up to a kitchen full of unwashed plates and pans.  Sticky pools of baked beans, congealed tomato sauce, rock hard rice mounds. As I scrap the wasted into the compost bin I try not to vomit. I wash the dishes and leave the pans and baking trays, I need to wake up to face the grease on those.

I quite like washing up. If you can get from beginning to end of a job without interruption then there is some satisfaction. I like dipping my hands into hot water and suds, staring out the window, wiping off mess, it reminds me of painting in reverse.

The weather is a wet grey miserable nothing, entirely uninspiring. My family may just have to kill each other inside this tiny house today. I am not a fan of the board game, but I love drawing and crafting and Syd is always content to jam a day away on his guitar, maybe there will even be some energy for baking, or a big game of hide and seek.

I spent yesterday in the studio, hugging my new radiator and getting lost in artists statements and job applications and wishing that I was drawing as opposed to writing. It was quiet and calm, the hours sped past.

naoisejamming sydjamming

Patrick kindly looked after the children for the day, they went day tripping in Manchester, chicken and chips for lunch, frogs at the museum, art at the art gallery, trying out instruments in the guitar shop and a selection of Indian sweets from the shop in Rusholme. They got back at seven, all of them exhausted, especially Patrick as Naoise had spent most of the day on his shoulders.

The evening was a disaster. Syd had a fight with me and Naoise about fish fingers and subsequently went on hunger strike. I shouted at Syd, then Patrick sloshed two bowls of tomato and red pepper soup all over the kitchen whilst burning his hand.

We all said sorry.

Hurt

7.10 am (half term holidays woke at 6.45am)


Went to bed early,  woke at eleven to cries of cramp from Syd. I got him to jump around a bit to get the circulation going in his leg, and then I tucked him back in bed, he was half sleep.

It was so good to sleep all the way through the night, no fever in the early morning, no bananas or warm milks to fetch, no pyjamas to change.

The washing chugs around, occasionally a zipper clanks against the glass door. It is a comforting chug. Many cars zoom there way to work. Its not frosty, but it looks cold, the sky is grey and the clouds are shifting.


Yesterday felt hopeful, there was frost and sun and blue and clumps of snow drops. I sat with a chick on my knee the biggest most excited child there was on the straw bales.

I thought that I would give up with the writing today. I thought that I would leave a blank, say that I was tired, had had enough, no time or head space over the holidays. I thought that there would be nothing to say. I wake and words begin to form sentences. To compose strings of meaning. I have to write about hurt, about how words can hurt.

Even if I write “I do not wish to cause any harm, I do not wish to cause an argument”, even if that is my intention, its not enough, its not good enough, clever enough. I have to find a subtle way around this issue of honesty. How can you be honest without causing hurt? Perhaps it is impossible to write honestly without causing hurt? This project that is meant to be a piece of durational art work stretching over of 365 days, writing about me, my family, how I see the world, but perhaps its not possible.

I need to question  ethics. My partner feels uncomfortable with me writing about him, he is a very private person. I have crossed a line. I have made him feel cross. I realise my mistakes, I understand his point of view. I will try and write just about me, about my perspective, not about him. I need to find some direction on this, my writing is clunky and do it yourself, my words are simple, I find fiction hard. Stories begin somewhere in the real world. My stories need to tread  more carefully. Its immature of me to write about adult disagreements. Its not fair on you, I am sorry. Please find this public declaration of sorry meaningful.

Is all of this just too too personal?Art needs to look outwards as well as inwards. It needs to communicate to a wide audience. Is this didactic? Its not just my partner, its the children too, I need to carefully consider them all. I am blundering about, stumbling and picking up the mess I leave behind. I’ve already assigned real names to people and places, so its too late, I can retract a little, hold back a while, but I have said too much already and its out there existing, it has a life of its own and I don’t want to erase it.

Writers make up names and characters, they write fiction, they leave things a while, reflect, let the dust settle, edit out, put back in, weave words around the made up, the imagination. What is fact? What is fiction? What is record? What is document? Am I making one big colossal mistake? I will try another approach, I will try to consider words with care. I will look back over what I have written before clicking publish, I will protect myself and my own. A mother needs to protect, a mother should protect, have I stepped too far? Are my actions un-motherly, have I been bad? I wanted to be bad, but is this madness to write in this way, each day? I need to tread lightly through life, so as not to hurt.


I get hurt too. I get hurt by rejection. An artists needs a thick skin, they need to be both sensitive but be able to manage rejection. Artists need not take rejection too seriously, they need to push forward and beyond the no’s and crosses and not good enough.

There are always doors closing. Why do doors close? Who are the gate keepers ? What makes some work  not high enough a quality to make its way through to a shortlist, to an interview to a place on a wall, to recognition? I have decided that it all boils down to personal taste I like it, I don’t like it. Next. If its not about personal taste, then its about ego and power and money and that some art is just so naughty so dangerous so transgressive that it makes people nervous and they don’t want to sit beside it, it makes them feel too uncomfortable, it would be embarrassing, it would be too much of a risk to say you know what this is ok, it works, it communicates, its great, it should be seen. It speaks.

I have found that representing myself, my own work is the only way forward. Let my work not be judged, let it not be censored, let my work be seen.

Beep beep beep…..beep beep beep…………………………….


 

 

 

 

 

Discontentment

8.45 am (half term holidays, awake at 6.45am)

Slept through the night, waking once not for a child’s fever but for the strangeness of dreams. I dreamt that I had borrowed a canal barge to sail down the Regents Canal in London, but had forgotten where I had left it. I woke up thinking that this anxiety was real.

naoisesleepingwithmonster

Not much time to write as heading out on a day trip with family and friends to The Wild Boar Park in the Forest of Bowland, a place where you can sit a chick on your knee, feed a lamb, watch meer cats play, go on a tractor ride…. Making a flask of strong coffee, getting a picnic together, chocolate soya milkshakes, water,  bananas, donuts, smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, chicken samosa, vegetable samosa, corn cakes, jaffa cakes, plums a feast of cultures colliding to please boy, man and woman.

sydtyping

Resentment and hurt and frustration boil under a thin veneer of getting along. Relationships are a tangled web of disappointment. I can’t describe the actualities, for fear of causing more arguments. Why do adults resort to arguing over small things, that probably don’t matter ?

My failure seems to be forgetting to empty the compost bin, but I don’t really think that it is about that. Or if it is about the compost bin, if I empty it will another argument replace the one that I have solved ? Living with another adult and looking after children for me completely erodes any romance, any joy, any excitement. I wonder if equality can exist and so does my partner. Always the other trying to fix fault. Always easy to fix blame. Always easier not to forgive, to brush aside, to clench your teeth, to turn away.

Working through a list of mundane routine and childcare and unemployment. Rejection and disappointment seeps out of my skin. It sweats and stinks and scares. It hates me and others hate me too, not for what I am, but for what I have become. Ineffectual. The rejection makes me want to run away to the city, running to the hills wouldn’t be much of an escape here. He probably feels the same, who knows, no one ever quite knows the truth of it, what really goes on inside another person’s mind and sometimes being honest or trying to communicate and reach out an olive branch to hold is no help at all. Plod on, plod on, forget, erase, continue. Try.

pegdollfamily

The day with the children plodded along, negotiating homework’s and reading with Syd, making peg dolls and playing drawing games with Naoise, supplying a constant stream of refreshments, trying to keep them off electronic devices as much as motherly possible, washing up, drying clothes, tidying, putting away, hoovering, maintaining, ironing out sibling rivalry.