It was 9pm, my boys had just given in to sleep after seemingly endless stories, I had barely managed to resist sleep myself but I was determined to have some ‘Me Time’. You may ask what value is ‘Me Time’ when all you really need is sleep, and yep, there is the rub.
I sat on the stairs in the half-dark, enjoying the solitude and the stillness. I was delaying going downstairs to the apocalyptic vision of flung toys, teetering dishes and mounds of dirty clothes.
Was the elusive ‘Me Time’ just making me feel resentful?
You see, a creative valve had opened with the birth of my second child but the ideas that kept flowing were just withering at the roadside, whilst I whizzed by in the unstoppable motherhood machine; picking things off the floor, buttering toast, school run, football club, kissing grazes, grilling fish fingers, singing nursery rhymes, shopping, reluctant baths, stories….
Not that the motherhood machine was without joy, but it was relentless and this idea of ‘Me time’ seemed to promise something that might bring balance. But how?
There on the stair in half dark and comforting silence of sleeping children I flicked through Facebook. And PING! I saw a way to work around my time restrictions, to reach out to a wider community and to get back to making art.
I immediately posted it on Facebook, I was going to start an artists book collaboration. It was to be called Intervention, because that is what I needed to get me making art work again. Within minutes of posting this project I had people asking to join. It just took off.
So when I finally made it to the bottom of the stairs to face the aftermath of the day, I had been injected with energy and enthusiasm! I thrashed those malevolent dishes and malingering clothes ! I didn’t even wince, much, when I trod on the Stickle Bricks barefoot.
We’ve been collaborating for nearly a year now. There are 20 of us and many of us are mothers, but not all. We are working on 20 books, each with its own theme, and every 3 weeks we post that book on and the next artists adds work to it. Some of us are artists, some musicians, a few writers, some professionals some just starting out, some dabbling. But we have all have found an outlet and a community. These books and our ideas are traveling all around the world, ( just like I used to, before the boys).
We met for the first time last week at my old work, Battersea Arts Centre.
How incredible to revisit the vibrancy and buzz of a place that I used to be a part of. And how exciting to return there with my own project and a group of brilliant collaborators, with so much to share.
I keep in contact with all collaborators through Facebook on my phone. Ironically, in the media there is often discussion about how mums spend too much time looking at their phones. But thanks to my little phone I’ve managed to give a crucial part of myself an outlet which fits around my motherly duties. I’ve also managed to sell a few prints that came out of the project, which you can see on my Etsy page.
So, if you see me in the playground looking at my phone, just withhold judgement for a moment; it’s my ‘Me Time’ and it helps the the mothering machine to run a little smoother, with all on board benefiting.
A big thank you to Lucy Sharpe for allowing me to use her photographs in this post.