The notion that a woman becomes less competent and less capable of cogent, effective thinking and mental recall upon having children seems foolish to me. This is not to say that mothers aren't woefully forgetful at times, or that modern motherhood doesn't require an olympic-grade of mental, physical, and emotional gymnastics that leaves even the best of us quite frazzled. Indeed, motherhood can seem like a perpetual state of double burdens and divided attentions; insert the oft bandied image of a sweaty, disheveled woman spread thin.
Still, I find myself recalling the words of my husband's colleague - herself a working mother with two children - upon the news of my second pregnancy.
"Two takes some getting used to," she cautioned, with more than a little bit of weariness in her voice. "It will be hard. Pull-out-your-hair hard. Glass-of-wine-every-night hard. Falling-asleep-all-the-time hard. But you will eventually find a way that makes sense for you. And then, it's glorious." I often wonder how she does it, taking care of herself and her kids, whilst being a brilliant and downright formidable psychologist.
Functioning well beyond the expert parenting level to which I have yet to ascend, she was in the midst of a hectic research period when I was birthing our son sometime ago. And being the novice parent I was, I had everything set in place for his arrival and nothing for myself. No nursing bra. No towel-thick maternity pads (or sanitary napkins of any sort, for that matter 0_0).
No suitably granny-like undergarments to hold said towel-thick maternity pads in place.
In the middle of her work, she received word of our delivery and promptly asked, "Do you guys have everything you need? What about such and such?" After 48 hrs of labour, we just sat there clutching the phone - exhausted, numb, hungry and utterly ashamed that we hadn't thought past the baby.
Because, isn't it all about the baby?
Visual Artist, Publisher + Baby Entertainer
Before we could answer that question, she was on our doorstep, fresh from the shops with a bag of everything we'd need to survive the first few days with a newborn, and wielding a massive tray of food she had cobbled together on break from her lab work.
We were duly grateful, and thoroughly impressed.
Impressed partly by the realization that she had factored us into her already tight schedule, but also by observing how calm and happy she seemed in accommodating us, in the midst of her own madness. This was no tired mum flapping about in a bedraggled, cranky mess. I'm certain she had her own storms brewing, but this woman was nonetheless on point.
Now with a baby girl in tow, I have yet to discover the special 'way' of which she spoke, but I know it's out there. I saw it in the way my late mum was able to wrangle my sister and I, 24/7, without losing her sense of self and sanity. I've seen it in the way the fathers in my circle take on full-time childcare, whether that means bringing baby and all the gear to the pub, the restaurant, the high-end Shoreditch bar...
I see you, uncle Mau & co. I see you.
And I've witnessed it in the way other creatives have crafted their own take on finding balance in the way they live, the work they do, and in the functionalist approach they employ in designing useful, beautiful items like my daughter's bouncer, seen here.
I spoke sometime ago with Frédéric Gooris + Paulina Chu, the designers of The Bamboo, about their approach to design and ended up having an honest conversation on modern parenting. Their bouncer is made of a flexible, yet dense aluminum that cradles children from birth, and can be converted into a sleek and minimalist chaise lounge for kids. In chatting, they kept returning to the notion of designing a strong item that wouldn't be useless, plastic nonsense after a child's first six months, and could provide a safe, comfortable space for their child to rest whilst they had a moment to regroup, chill out, and ultimately be more engaged and fun parents. They called it, 'staying sparky;' I call it 'not losing your blasted mind.'
Either way, maintaining a sense of clarity, happiness, and balance is of paramount importance, not so?
Suffice it to say, I cling desperately to the days when my shit is in order and everything's coming up roses. Still, in the witching hours when I find myself working multiple projects with a kid jiggling, flapping, and rambling at my feet, I've begun to see glimmers of the glorious bit in the distance. And it looks so damn good.
Onwards and upwards, then.
"We want to find a joyful balance, and stay sparky."
The Bamboo, by Bombol
In Partnership with Bombol
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