Womb, late, hair, sycamore

9.40am (at home)

Naoise fell off his scooter just before the lolly pop crossing. He was very brave. He was sore but he did not cry and he did not want me to kiss his bruised knee better. The uneven stone slabs that but up against the tarmac pavements are lethal in wet and dry.

Walking back from school I saw a herron flying low and exactly above the middle of the main road and the cars waiting at the traffic lights. I picked elderberries and buddleia from the canal side.

We were late again. Naoise simply does not seem to understand, or maybe it is just that he is waking slowly from his late night.

At breakfast the main news article was that the first 10 British women have been given go-ahead for womb transplants. 

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The sun is meant to break the cloud cover. I must get that pram out. A crying pram. A lactating pram. An empty pram. A pram with no purpose. A wondering pram.

I took a photograph of the rocket on the playground tarmac. My rocket is a monet haystack. My rocket never takes off. My rocket is the glue of this project. Temporality. You cannot see children grow.

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I gave my handsome elder son a hug. He stands tall in his man pyjamas. He will tower above me. He loves putting his pretend diamond stud earring in. He loves to play grown up and he loves to play ball and scooter and he loves to have constant reassurance. I lost patience with him last night, he told me off. I needed telling off. I was distracted by completing a job application and I was not as positive and kind and patient as I can be. He was understanding. I said sorry and agreed he had worked hard at his homework and tidying his room and organising his bag for the next day.

I collected sycamore helicopters. I thought about making the family mandalas, maybe the workshop could make use of some seasonal organic matter. I remember throwing sycamore helicopters up in the air and delighting with their flight and aerobatics. I remember playing with Syd and sycamore helicopters.

The warmth of the sun and the words from the Laurie Lee Cider with Rosie television adaptation  are still with me. I must read it once again. All the beautiful lyrical prose. I look up some classic quotes from the book there are many beautiful ones. I must dust down the novel it sits silent on eth bookshelf outside Naoise room, waiting to be read again. Perhaps I shall read it to Syd, I think he would like it.

Bees blew like cake-crumbs through the golden air, white butterflies like sugared wafers, and when it wasn’t raining a diamond dust took over which veiled and yet magnified all things
― Laurie Lee, Cider With Rosie

I will get my hair trimmed today, just the ends off. Syd will get his hair cut too. He goes alone to get it cut now. I like it when it grows wild and big and wavy on top, but he likes to tame it and keep it cool.

Falling and failing and getting darker.

20.02pm

Its the middle of the evening, Naoise is still running around dressed and wanting to play, Syd is in the bath. Patricks time is being demanded by me and Naoise. This is impossible. I need help but its not working, juggling the needs of the children with job applications is a recipe for disaster. I need to manage my own time and my families time more effectively. I need to be strict.

Naoise will not settle at night so we are trapped in this constant state of disorganisation, unable to find any time to work together on projects and adult commitments, and responsibilities that require the attention of two not one grown ups. We are in this together…right? Are we a team or aren’t we?  I try to be independent and not ask of anything but actually I do need help. I do really need help.

My time is spread far to thin. I am trying to claim that time back for me. I get distracted by helping other people when actually I need to concentrate on improving my own situation. Help yourself Helen. Help your own family first. How selfish it sounds. Oh this is so boring. This process of bettering myself and applying for work. Am I not enough as I am. I am doing my best, I am. I am. It all feels so difficult. I am moving through a muddy space. It is dark. It is dark sooner now. By seven it is dark. Light falling. Leaves falling.

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I am tired. Too tired to make any sense. I am tripping. I am sad to be saying goodbye to the summer. I find this death time. This dark time. This changing miserable. I don’t want to hibernate. I don’t want to be in. In is boring. Out is freedom. Inside. I hate being inside. I need space. I need to be able to breath. To move. This house is small and restrictive and it closes in. It closes in on my heart.

Me and Naoise were late to school again. Its ok we got there. We got there without tears and too much anxiety. I tried. I tried. He wanted to sleep in bed, sleep on the sofa, sleep at the breakfast table and then sleep on the sofa again. Naoise is tired. I am tired. We are all tired. Clearly we are all doing far too much.

I cannot carry all the feelings, needs and expectations of my family. A family wants. When they want so much I run away to writing, to art, I run in the hills. I am good at running away. I need constant support and encouragement not you should have done this, you should have done it like that, you need to change this, you need to do that. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

The weather was mild and beautiful but I have had enough of today. A day when I have achieved a half finished job application, a tidy front room, washing up, drying up, laundry, recycling, caring, helping, encouraging, communicating, managing. I have thrown it all in the air and I can’t catch the balls, no I am not good at juggling it all. There is tension in my shoulders. I don’t want to juggle.

Watching Cider with Rosie whilst drinking cider was good. That was good escapism.

Haphazard keyboard music going on upstairs. Naoise is playing with his dad and I am elsewhere in this space. I am here between the spaces of the words and sentences and pixels and paragraphs. I am the full stop.

The bone in the stone wall

9.47 am

Today

In the studio. Hat on, its cold, but the radiator is warming up fast. I drove over the hills to avoid the traffic light jam. The horses in the field by the stone wall were siluated against misty fog and stark sun, all in contrast, I thought to stop and take a picture but I drove on.

Naoise was as tired as ever this morning, despite my efforts to try and get him to sleep earlier. Its hard, very hard, this gap between the needs of a 14 year old child and a 6.5 child. P helped though, he helped by doing some bike restoration work with Syd.

We managed at least to sit on the sofa and watch Doctor Who altogether. I had to fight for that. I lost my rag with Syd after he had hassled me continually all weekend about an over priced coat. He swore and shouted, I swore and shouted. We both apologised. I should have known better but I have my limits.

So we sat on the sofa and watched Doctor Who. Just to sit together is good. Just about enough to stick our lives together. Sofa sitting, tv watching.

I read lots of books to Naoise, Peter Rabbit, The Magic Fish, The Shape Game, The Quangle Wangle Quee. He had two rounds of yoghurt and milk supper. When at last I had settled him down he still wanted more to eat. I said NO YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY YOU ARE TIRED AND YOU NEED TO GO TO SLEEP.

The problem with the night time routine is that I seem to be more exhausted than the children. My last story was a made up, about Angus, Lotty and Lucy Loo who all live on a croft in the the far west of Scotland.  The lights were off, and as I was telling the story I found that my own voice was sending myself to sleep.  I kept loosing the thread of the story and it deteriorated into nonsense.

This morning, I left the house in a complete pickle. Laundry not hung out. Washing up undone.

The star chart is a good thing. Naoise is responding well to positive reinforcement. I had forgotten how good a star chart is. He brushed his teeth for three stars. We got to school on time.

This afternoon I will go into Naoise school to do some reading with the children in his class. I am looking forward to it. I am hoping that some focused voluntary work will help me find some paid work.

I decided against going to the friendship group at the Sure Start centre. I wanted to go but I don’t think I have the time. I am still helping my older friend who has moved into his  new home and I am picking up the pieces after P and all his full time work and part time work. Its good to know what your priorities are. Family, art, finding paid work, helping friends. Just juggling all these responsibilities and duties is enough. I may go back, I just need to breath today, have this time in my studio to think, order, list, plan, do.

I write lists and lists of to do, it would be good to start ticking off jobs rather than being stuck in the mud of mundane nothingness.

Mums Text

I watched the moon eclipse. It was lovely. If it had not been a school day today I would have given into my temptation to wake you all by phoning !! xx

Yesterday

Reflections and mediations recorded on my mobile phone.

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Caw, caw, chatter, chatter, chatter.

Lying in the green grass, the sun, the sun in September,  late September, it is so warm, I can feel freckles forming on my face.

I saw the a hip bone of a sheep built into a stone wall. A bone in a stone wall.

Dogs barking. The grass is green, emerald green. The birds. A bee. It feels like a summers day, not an autumn day. A cricket chirps. This is the 28th of September. No its the 27th September.

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What am I thinking?

The windmills on the moors are turning slowly around. I was listening and I heard a wood pecker tapping in the woods. It might have been a woodpecker or just a bird tapping at the wood.

Sydney rang he has made some money from his busking and has become quite obsessed with wanting to buy a new coat.

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I am glad that I am lying in the sunshine, it is sooooo warm. I am glad I am here not making those decisions. Patricks got the kids today, they have gone into town. I hate shopping. I hate everything it stands for. Yes there are things we need and then there are things we really don’t need, and on a day like this I am happy that I am lying here in the sunshine.

People pass by. I decide to talk to them. Its like a summers day I say. Yes, its beautiful, they agree. 

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There are lines chased in the sky by aeroplanes. There are lines. There are aeroplanes shooting up like rockets.

All is still and calm and green and blue and warm. Everyone is making the most of it because it will become dark and wet and freezing and hail, the leaves will fall off the trees, this is the turning of the year. The turing time. For it is still beautiful.

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The leaves are green, turning to brown, crisping, getting ready to drop. A bee. A bee goes past, I am lying in the grass. How lucky am I to be lying in the grass. You can feel the earth, it is hard under my legs and body. I am on my own. How strange it is to be on my own. Always WITH the children. WITH or WITHOUT the children.

Research

Project ProCreate

Matilda Tristam, Probably Nothing 

Kara Walker: ‘There is a moment in life where one becomes black’, Tim Adams, Sunday 27th September, The Guardian

Jo Brand’s tribute to stay-at-home mums put a smile on my face,Vanessa Olorenshaw, Tuesday 22nd September, The Guardian 

 

Sunday Sleep In

8.20am

What to say? What to write? I am sitting up in bed in the middle room. I ran away to this room on my own. I needed a rest, to sleep without the responsibility of caring for Naoise. I left P to put N to bed last night, it was so, so late, I couldn’t find any more love, care and maintenance in my heart or body. I slipped under the bed covers and tried to fall asleep as quickly as possible I could not manage any more caring.

We watched the film about northern soul together. It was not really appropriate for children. I think we need to rethink this total collapsed state of parenting. Children need boundaries from adults. I drank cider, ate chocolate and tried to watch the programme whilst balancing  a bored child on my knee.

Its a dismal day. I see the dismal behind the crack in the curtain. It may turn good. The sun could push out. I am not sure I really want to write this. I am low on energy and staring at this screen isn’t a revitalising experience.

 

Mum Visit/ Went to YSP

Mum came to visit. I was at the end of my tether. Impatient with the children. I am glad mum came to visit. On Friday after school pick up, I went for a walk in the woods. I asked my mum to make dinner. I went to bed early.

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On Saturday I ran around the Yorkshire Sculpture Park with the children and my friend so that P could work. The sculpture park was full of marauding crowds of people visiting the poppies. I tried to take a picture of my friend with my children and the poppies but a woman dressed all in mint green refused to move out of the frame as she was “waiting for the sun to come out” Waiting for the sun to come out in the North of England can be a lengthy process. We gave up on waiting and felt annoyed about the mint green woman. There were crazy things going on in the park, Caro’s being used as climbing frames, children falling on plates of steel, it felt like  shopping mall congestion crowds, more Trafford Centre than culture in nature,  The park had been invaded by poppy explorers more akin to hunters than peace pilgrims.

 

What is it that you see?

11.17am

I am dazed, confused, head sore, cold sore, tired, run down.

I can hear a can rolling around outside in the street, every other Friday is bin day and their is always something that is left astray. The empty can makes a pleasant clunking sound rolling around outside on the stone slabs.

I haven’t got to the studio as planned. I helped my friend move his stuff out and into his home and checked that all would be well tonight. I jotted down some time to help my friend out more again next week. There is responsibility. There is kindness. Of cause I would rather be making art, trying to help me find work, make my situation better. Maybe this duty will help.Maybe this is bettering. Life is all about experiences right? About learning ? Somehow by doing more stuff you get more done, or at least you understand what your priorities are.

I do need to move me higher up the priority list, but maybe that time is now, it has arrived.

Mum is coming. P is out tonight. I am glad mum is coming. I need some help, some care, some tender, loving care.

I stare into space. I stare at the light of the screen and it stings my eyes.

I boiled over with frustration this morning. Arguing never helps anyone, least myself. I am fed up of spending weekends on my own looking after children, there is no let up, its all work, work, work. Unpaid work. Work done for love not money.

I am struggling with the love. I am struggling just to be motivated by a force that is close to religious. What is this love? What is this all giving mother. I am not her. I don’t like religion, I am an atheist. I am fed up with being blamed. I am not a vessel. I will not be a victim. I will not except the arrows. I will not be seen as a madonna figure. I am me. I will feel no shame. I will wait to feel different. I will wait to find my feet. I will speak out.

I try, I do try. I don’t have limitless time. My days are short and filled full of roles, jobs, expectations, things that I have to do that I don’t want to do. I am not perfect. I am not ideal. I get angry. I get frustrated. Who wouldn’t. Who wouldn’t find this life frustrating. I am not a saint. I cannot keep up with the saintliness. I cry. I cried. Syd put his arm around me.

I couldn’t stop myself from shouting. I shouted. I made myself heard. Yes its counter productive I know, I know, I know. Inside I am often shouting, I try to surpress the anger, keep it in, but that isn’t always possible. Do you feel angry? How do you stop boiling over? Have you any advice for me? For others? Why do mothers feel any? Am I the only angry mother? Why is anger not allowed? How do we deal with anger?

I have my limitations. Not everyone listens or wants to. I want to talk but there is often no time and ears are shut. Boxes. I cannot always speak about specifics. This is public. I am aware that this is OUT LOUD even though its quietly written.

I am sad that I cannot attend an opening. I don’t have the money. I don’t have the energy. I don’t have the childcare. It is the lack of finances that mainly curtail my freedom to decide. Not to have choice. To be dependent. It isn’t easy. It restricts choices. I don’t choose this.

A friend talks about how privileged and lucky we are. I know. I know, but I struggle to find the positive and I have to describe where I am at right now.

Do I really need to dumb down to get work ? I sat in the Sure Start course and wondered how I had got to this point. How I had got to being sat here in a dark basement asking the question in my head how will this help ? How will this help? This is so basic, how will this help? I know this. I know this. What is there to learn.

Of cause there are always things to learn. Mainly to learn from other people. Knowledge of others lives. How other people live. Who I am. Who am I ? I am lost. I am lost. Like these other women how did we land here. Grasping, holding, sharing. I am grasping, slipping, trying not to slip. I don’t want to google my name and its meaning. I find this all cringingly hard. We are all sat around this cold table. We are all distant. I am not light. I am dark. So my mood does not reflect the meaning of my name.

I struggle to be the student and not the teacher. I struggle to sit and not stand. Can I stand up? I can stand up. Its not all about me. The teacher talks a lot about her. I learn a lot about her. How can this help me? Respect, humility, compassion, difference. Always good to appreciate difference. Difference of opinion. I need to learn to keep quiet, to try not to think. I need to listen. Just sit and listen and keep my mouth shut, but I am opinionated. I interject about my struggle with school and rules and tests and really is phonics the only way to teach my child? I struggle with authority. I struggle. I am struggling with her authority, her teaching strategies. I want to run away. I feel frustrated.

When the course is over I cannot wait to get outside. It has been a long time since I have sat through a morning without caffeine. I am not sure I will return. Do I want to come back? How can I get out of coming back to the course? How can I escape. I am advised to go back and try it again, to go a second time. If I don’t go a second time and stick with it, what will be lost? Lost that I cannot stick to something, that I cannot see what I might gain? I am not convinced. What I can give, what can I get. Really what is it I can get from this situation. My time is so precious and short and I want to be making art not feeling small.

Small.

It was like being in a Mike Leigh film, right in the centre of it. It was depressing. I left thinking about how much my children teach me, and how much that there is to learn. Humility. My brain won’t stop. Have I wasted one and a half hours of my time, why am I here. To learn that children can learn anywhere, everywhere. I knew that. Did I know that? I think I did know that.

What have we learnt. We have learnt about each other. Desperate. Seemingly desperate, tired women with children trying to move towards working. The work place. The place of work. Outside the home. This shift and this transition back to work.

A birthing.

A taking away of what I hold precious. To walk my child to school. To collect my child from school. To try to smile and be patient and not be rushed. To not be paid. To not be paid for my time. To cope without. To see how far living on love not a wage can stretch. How it has challenged me. How I feel like jumping in a pram and being pushed. Push me, rock me, hold me, stoke my hair, fetch me warm milk, dress me. Can I be the baby once in a while. Can I be naughty and reckless and flood the bathroom ? Can I be cared for rather than being the one that has to care for others?

Love. Care. Maintenance. Compassion. Connection. Understanding. Work. Diligence. Resilience. Reliability.

Cry, clean, cook, don’t dust. Piles of washing up. A cold sore. Make art. Don’t care. Let the mess build up and create.

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In the studio I make a map, a plan. A drawing. I write lists and lists of to do. To do. I think how to edit this project, by season? By section of the most pertinent subjects? I imagine it as a series of books, beautiful books, objects not pixels. Perhaps it cannot be edited, it is what it is. A messy lot of ideas, emotions, struggles, observations of my family and where I am, my point of view. Who is this mother and what does she do?

I am here. I am here in this space, and this space listens. It orders my muddle of thoughts.

Last night N flooded the bathroom. I was in the kitchen and I thought the rain outside was in. It was raining inside. N  was pretending to be a baby andhad tried to flush a nappy that he had put on   down the loo and then the loo had overflowed and the door was locked and I bashed on the locked door and cried to be let in. I was calm. I am calm in a crisis. I did not shout at him, I was very cross but I was calm. I got on and cleared up all the water from the floor with more and more clean towels from the airing cupboard.  I tried not to panic as I called for help from Syd. We both rushed about soaking up the water with the towels and creating a completely filled laundry basket with sodden.

The flooding happened after two rounds of chocolate milk shake. Giddiness and silliness and misbehaving.

The floor was ok, it survived but I was not ok. I was fed up.

There is a flood inside me. Art makes me sad. Motherhood makes me sad.  Art makes me sad as it does not always make life easier. Motherhood makes me sad because what ever I do it is never enough. It is never enough just to be.

It asks so much of me.

Art is not as demanding as my children but it does demand feeding and as with motherhood it is a monster of expectation.

Can life, motherhood, work in the home, outside the home, can it all be done? This is my art. These words and notes. This is what I have made. It is here. I cannot always see it, but these words and images are an attempt to make a mark. To learn. Appreciate. Understand. To feel no shame in what I think, what I see, what I want to share.

To say positively THIS IS ART.

Change. Change sometimes happens so slowly that it is hard to see.

What is it that you see?

 

Forgot the washing up liquid

6.41 am

The sun pushes up slowly around six and with the light I wake. I am downstairs by 6.10am, I had wanted to write but there was a pile of unwashed dishes and they were calling out clean me. I forgot to buy the washing up liquid so improvise with washing powder instead. It works, very soapy and slippy.

The radio plays in the background. An article about rubbish collections only once a month, talk about “migrant crises” and quotas.

Its an utterly miserable day as grey as the slate tiles on the roof.

When I collected N from school yesterday he played with his friends in the willow scrub. He called me to come and see where him and his friends were playing. They were all climbing in a laurel bush, climbing high on very thin branches above a concrete fence. They all climbed as high as the leaf line, until their heads could poke out the top. I loved to climb trees at their age but as I watch them climb all I have is fear. Fear and anxiety and I wish N hadn’t come to show me their confidence. They are at ease and happy and very pleased with their climbing. I am glad when their parents call and I can make my way down the bank.

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I am going to a course arranged through Sure Start today its called Tactical Parent Helpers.  I have little idea what it is that I am going too but its meant to be helpful with parents who want to find work in school and as  I am toying with the idea of changing career and becoming a primary school teacher it would seem relevant to me. I will go along with an open mind.

Spent yesterday evening helping my friend with his new home, hoovering, putting up temporary curtains, sorting out bedding, providing a little care. CARE. Later, I went on a late night trip to the super market and forgot all the important things toothpaste, washing up liquid, bread. Syd came with me so I came home with crisps and chocolate and items for his lunches. I was pleased that P put Naoise to bed last night, its been a while since we have changed night time roles and duties. As I was relieved of my night time duties with Naoise I had time to make sandwiches and tidy downstairs a little and make a cup of tea for my friend when he came back to my home.

I can hear P getting up. The cars on the road moving through wet. A bus slowing.

This evening N has a friend coming for tea, Syd will be going to his guitar lesson and then on Friday I can breath a sigh of relief as my mum is coming to visit and she will help muck in with the kids and the domesticity and her company will lift my spirits and bring me energy.

 

 

Must-Urgent

Must

8.24 am (before school run)

Naoise fully dressed but wanting more time to sleep on the sofa. His tooth brush, shoes, coat all ready. Bag packed with book, sandwiches and swimming stuff, scooter leant against the door. Breakfast things ready for him to eat and drink. Yoghurt, milk, bowl, spoon. Apart from Naoise actually being conscious we are ready for school.

I am writing this now as I don’t see a chance of being able to write later. First appointment of the day is from sure start advisor to come and see where I am with all the job hunting and career changing list of to do’s that she left me with last week. I realise how time slips. How distracted from what I should be doing I am. How being a mum is a constant distraction and a constant pull of priorities.

The five minutes sounded on the oven buzzer, the washing machine is singing its circular song, the sun is high in the sky today, a gentle warm light of autumn.The year is coming to a close. I need to act on some of my list else all I will have is an art project comprised of a very long list of things that I hoped to have done but haven’t achieved.

Must cook the apples that mum bought for me from her garden. Must make bread. Must wash the kitchen floor with my hair dipped in milk. Must throw the green pram down the cobbled street and film something spilling out of it….milk, knives, paper, potty’s ???? Must write a PhD proposal. Must write an arts council funding application. Must tidy Naoise room up. Must help Syd to read. Must hoover the red rug in the front room. Must stop writing this and get Naoise to school.

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Urgent

9.26am (after school run)

Naoise has no sense of urgency, he even tries to go back to sleep on the sofa after eating two cold bowls of yoghurt. I tell him we will be late.

Every morning he has an explosive snot happening. Snot catapolts itself onto the stone floor.

I tried to find my front door key, and realise that Syd has taken it. I leave Naoise outside the front and go out the backdoor through the yards of the neighbours houses. Naoise thinks its all very funny.

On the way to school Naoise realises he is desperate for a wee. He has a wee in the beach hedge. He watches his wee trickle along the pavement into the gutter. A lovely river of wee.

We aren’t that late today the lolly pop man is still in force to help us cross. He makes his comment about Naoise being Speedy Gonzalez on his scooter and just as well when you are as late as we are each day.

The side door is still open and I know the teaching assistant who is on duty, she is a kind woman. She asks about Syd. I tell her that he is taller than me now and that I get a big man/boy hug in the morning from him that keeps me going all day.

Best find my CV that is what I had to do. Best look up that Job. This is urgent. I need to find my sense of urgency.

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Loving attentiveness

13.44pm

In the studio. Sun shining. Conversations on the street. Just completed writing a very quick workshop proposal. Need to write more, one for the Hepworth. Don’t forget. If I write things down enough I might actually get around to doing them. The idea is to tick items of the list, normally I am lucky if I achieve just one thing. Headless chicken. I am a headless chicken.

Eating crap. Bread. Gluten. Crisps full of sugar and fat. When it is my period I don’t feel like eating good, I want cheese and chocolate and caffeine. I want all the bad. Fill me with bad.

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Sluggishly got out of bed. Naoise still asleep. P downstairs making coffee. Try to raise  Syd, who grunts and groans. Make sandwiches for both boys. Try not to be grumpy with P, its hard, I remind him that I feel grumpy and that sometimes he is too. I am grumpy. Lumpy and Grumpy. Take coffee upstairs, remind Syd again to get up.

Go back downstairs, can’t remember. Oh yes had breakfast with P. Cant remember conversation, not sure I wanted one. Syd comes downstairs he is as grumpy as me. P tells him off about bike tools and equipment being left out. I make Syd breakfast, toast and marmite, and a cup of tea. P goes to work. Syd runs around packing his school stuff into bags. Syd eats half of his breakfast and leaves for school. I grab my hug goodbye.

Back to the attic, dress Naoise in a half sleep, cuddle him back in bed for a snooze, he is still tired and needs sleep. Back to middle floor, have shower. Knock on door of my bedroom where guest is sleeping and get knickers and bra. Say good morning to guest, try to be quick and discrete. Get dressed at the top of the stairs outside Naoise room. I have literally no personal space. I have none.

Try to take Naoise downstairs, but he wants more sleep, so I let him rest some more.

Dry hair. Head upside down.

Back downstairs prepare toothbrush, glass of water, shoes, bag, bowl, mug for milk in place.

Back upstairs, Naoise still wants to sleep more.

Back downstairs make Naoise breakfast, toast, very milky tea.

Bring Naoise downstairs even though he could sleep forever. Sit him up in his sleep in his chair.

Present marmite on toast in front of him. He nibbles one slice. He says he is cold. I wrap the blue fleecy blanket around his shoulders. He hunkers down, sips his milky tea. He is still all sleep and no wake.

He says he does not want to eat toast. I am screaming inside its time we left for school, not time to make a different breakfast. I should have said no, but I don’t like my children going to school on empty stomachs so I fetch him some natural yoghurt in a plastic bowl.

Pause to help studio friend remove clay neck from clay head. 

He eats the first bowl of yoghurt and asks for another. Time. Time. Passes we are late, late, late. But when you are late, late, late you might as well go steady and be really, really, late.

Each task seems huge. As he is eating I try to brush his hair which he hates and so stops eating. I then put on socks. He takes off said socks and shoes as they are uncomfortable. I find different socks and we have success with the shoes. Is this not maddening. How fussy is my son. Or is he just particular. I know little things matter to little people but this does drive me mad.

Coat on and we are off, its gone nine. Oh well. We are well and truly late.

He zooms along the pavement on his scooter, as I try to catch him and provide a safe barrier between him and the cars zooming past on the road. The lolly pop man has gone home. I cross the road with another mum who is as late as I am.

Naoise does his loop around the playground, might as well, a few moments more won’t make a difference. As Naoise places his scooter at the back of the school, little children wave at me as they make their way up the school stairs to assembly. I wave back and smile. Late, late, late.

I ring the bell at reception. I usher Naoise towards a teacher and off load his bags on a teaching assistant. All is well. I apologise for Naoise lateness. Its ok.

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Walk home and breath the blue and feel the heat of the sun.

Wrap up picture in brown paper. Drive to post office to get it weighed. Come home, organise courier. Stress about courier. Check all details are correct. I answer a phone call, its Calderdale Adult College, I can’t do resit GCSE maths all the classes are full, the man says I can do it next year. Next year. Another year to wait. I am trying to increase my employability, a D in Maths is no good, I might retrain as a primary school teacher as I am worried abut my future as an artist. Its not paying the bills and I need to pay the bills. I don’t want to remain stuck.

Receive another call from Todmorden High School requesting that I drop off the medicine that Syd has forgotten. Receive a text from Shade School requesting that I drop off Naoise lunch. Naoise has his lunch, its in his bag. I ring the school and tell them that his lunch is in his bag. AHHHHHHHH is it not surprising that I never get anything done with all these jobs to do and lives to pick up I have no time for my own.

Try to print out labels at Tod library, but its closed. Get cold sore cream from supermarket. I am run down. Too much running around.

I make my own lunch. I leave the house. I drive to Hebden Bridge. I park at the studio, walk to Hebden Bridge library but thats closed too. I send P a message and see if he can print out my labels. I think about how much we need a printer in working order, but nothing is ever that simple, ink costs money and we are out of money this month.

At the studio. I make coffee, and write one art proposal. Its ok. Its ok. Phew. Phew. I tick off some things on the list.

Need to stop writing what I have done.

Urrrrgh

9.12am

Awake in the night sleep talking. Shouting out Its all wrong, Its all wrong…dreaming of bikes and cake and otters sleeping in family bundles under a flowing river.

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School run went all ok. No fighting. No stress about taking objects in at the last moment for show and tell. No difficulties over teeth brushing. Phew.

Its dark and wet and really urrrrgh.

Stomach bloated and head fuzzy after too much red wine drinking. Watched Doctor Who with N but missed the last few minutes as my guest came in and wanted to talk. It was too late when I got N to sleep last night. It was gone ten.

marykellyother21:09:15mothermarykelly20:09:15

 

We went to Manchester. N and P went to the Manchester Museum and I went to the Whitworth Art Gallery. I walked around the art gallery in a daze. I found some interesting things, bent over bottoms pretending to be a mountainous chinese landscape, Cornelia Parkers Magna Carter embroidery, a Peter Lanyon painting, William Blake water colours, Mary Kelly, Gillian Wearing. I couldn’t afford a coffee in the posh cafe restaurant, thats ok. I normally bring a flask. I got a snack from the super market instead.

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Gillian Wearing, Steven, Danny, Daniel, Ryan, 1996, photograph, Whitworth Art Gallery

I missed P and N. I needed a rest but thought that they were probably having more fun looking at bones and fossils and mummified cats.

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Lui Wei, It Looks Like a Landscape Painting, 2004, Digital photographic print

I will go to the friends group at the Sure Start centre, I am not sure whether it will be relevant but its worth trying. I have a long list of to do, but it would be rude not to at least try to go to this group. I will walk down the road, the canal will be muddy.

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S back today. N said that he really missed S over the weekend, he does so love his elder brother. I miss him too. It never feels right just the three of us, we are a family of four. I sent lots of text messages to S but had no reply all weekend. I hope he will be pleased with his new retro racing bike. P seems very keen to learn how to fix it up to its former glory, I think he is secretly envious. He has worked out how to make the chrome wheels nice and shiny by rubbing tin foil onto them. He proudly showed me a shiny bit.

It is quiet, the washing machine has come to the end of its cycle. The rain looks like the drenching type. I will wear a coat, converse boots aren’t very practical but I am not changing them. Best get on my way else I will be late.

A much needed mothers lie in

11.24am (in the attic bedroom)

N and P are out collecting a second hand bike for S so he can ride to school. I am pinching myself because I am actually getting a rest in bed after going out last night for some drinks with friends. I can hear the birds singing and the neighbours chatting to each other in their back yards.

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I remembered this morning that I wanted to make this more of a collaborative project with N. In order to become more visible I need him to turn the camera on us. I gave him my mobile phone. He loved it. He teased me with the flash option and put dots before my eyes. He worked hard to capture images of him and us and me. It was a relief to give him control. To let him become the author. Its good to break down the power relationship between mother and child. We are making this together. It needs to be a true collaboration. It felt like a good breakthrough.

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I am resting.

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N bought me marmite on toast in bed. Bedroom service he shouted with a smile on his face as he entered the room. The house is a mess but I don’t care. I need to slow down. I need to breath. I need to rest. My stomach is bloated. I have my period. Its always heavy. Its always painful. I put on a kilo in water retention. The body of a woman. This cycle. Irritates me. Constantly filling and draining. I will be glad to say goodbye to the mechanisms of fertility.

I miss S. He is at his dads. Even two days can feel like an eternity.

Friday night was a disaster. I couldn’t recover after N’s huge tantrum after school. I think N picks up on my pre menstrual tension, or he was just hungry as he gave his dinner to his friend, either way the strength of his tantrum was extraordinary and he exhausted me with running and chasing and scratching my skin and pulling at my hair. The receptionist in the GP surgery was very kind and checked to see if we were both ok. N was distraught about having to go to the health centre first rather than to the super market to buy food. I tried and tried to explain it  to him calmly. He just does not understand time tables and appointments and that other peoples needs sometimes have to come before his own. He must have been so tired and so hungry. Now, now that it is Sunday I can see clearly what went wrong, and what I could have done to prevent the disaster of a Friday night. Its always when I plan, when I have a vision of family loveliness that it all falls apart. In the end S went to see the doctor on his own. I could have prevented wrestling a child up the corridors distressing N and me, I could have prevented this fight. Fighting is no good. The answer was for S to go and see the doctor on his own, which he did, now that he is taller than me he is capable of doing this alone. Thats all ok. We were all over tired. Mums don’t think straight when they are over tired. Children don’t think straight when they are over tired.

Gosh this is all so dull. I wanted to write about that incident though, record it, place it here. Tantrums. When do tantrums happen? Why?

Head sore, my own fault, three bottles of cider, but worth a hangover for a little fun. So much to do. Plan workshops. Write workshop plans. Make art. Apply for jobs. Clean and tidy house. Re-write CV. Research primary school teaching. Re-sit GCSE maths.

Make Art thats all I really want to do. Make Art, but its really pointless just making art for no reason, there has to be a point to it, else it just becomes a stress rather than a joy. It always comes back to the problem of trying to make it pay. It has to be able to pay the bills especially when there is a family to support. This doesn’t pay the bills.

 

 

 

 

A Milanese Art Show Is All About Your Mother, Vogue, August 24, Julia Felsenthal

 

Sunny Saturday

18.18pm

Naoise is snoozing. The oven is heating up to cook ready-made supermarket meals. I have been out all day with Naoise so that P could get on with some work. I met mum and dad at a park outside Manchester. Naoise scootered around. We fed chickens, saw albino deers and smelt roses. Me and Naoise hung out with the grandparents and ambled about.

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Sluggish and back aching and dreary today, its day one of my period, I grab for chocolates and sustenance and feel drained.

Came home with a bag of apples from mums garden, too tired to write much today.