How motherhood birthed my new creative identity
When I became a mother, aged 35, my old sense of who I was (a social hub with a cool and creative career in film, a wife, someone who would be a writer one day) disintegrated. It was painful and debilitating.
Pregnant, all I had thought about was the birth, and working of course – up until a week before my due date. Fortunately for me, my sensible baby was late. But I had barely adjusted to the wriggle in my stomach when my bump became a folded duvet of stretched skin. In the shock, I strapped my son in place and fell back on old patterns: from high achiever to ‘perfect’ mum, from workaholic to mumaholic. In my struggles to breastfeed and parent and live up to the fantasy version of mum-me, I left no time for me. I no longer felt creative. I no longer recognised what I felt.
One of the more unconscious reasons that I started Story of Mum was the desire to find myself by making time for creativity again. My mumaholic still required a credible excuse for ‘play’ (and to a certain extent, it still does, though I am negotiating more reasonable working hours!). Set in the familiar context of facilitating others (the role I have played all my life, never more so than as a mum), this new ‘project’ gave me a gold-plated excuse for me-time, and gifted me with a space where I could start to tune into my own voice. Here, I could safely share stories and creative activities with other mums around the globe on a journey to greater self-awareness and validation.
Motherhood has made this creative me-time more precious, richer. And it has allowed me to reconnect with my creativity in a new way – playful and free, in touch with the energy and intensity of my children. Every day that I see a loo flush or a bug crawl or a cake bake through their eyes, they reconnect me with my own youth – when invention was random, uncensored, messy and colourful. My children teach me to create without judgment. For the pure joy of making something in the moment. It doesn’t have to be hard to be good. It doesn’t even have to be good.
And each time I create I learn something new about myself, this new mum-me. Creating is my lifeblood, the way I come to understand the world. Like motherhood, this creative space can be stimulating and challenging, upsetting, deeply connecting. It is always a discovery. I am using creativity to find me, to birth and evolve me. Creativity makes me a mother, over and over.
It is amniotic fluid, a heartbeat, blood and stretch marks.
It is the cord that feeds me.
It is yelling and grunting, holding and weeping.
It is the stark red spots on my face from straining so hard to Get. It. Out.
And the easy slide of a placenta onto a bed.
It is the miracle of a squelchy pink being in my hand curling out.
It is eyes that see eyes for the first time.
A breast, making milk, filled with the antibodies of my kisses.
It is love and it is letting go.
It is the noisy acknowledgment that I am special and I am everyone.
For as we create, we are all mothers.
I live in Cornwall, UK with my salty-skinned surfing film-making husband, boisterous 5 year old boy who thinks he’s half Octonaut/half Power Ranger, and 3 year old daughter who inspires me by saying YES as if it’s the easiest thing in the world (and now, WHY, over and over again…)
Life is a constant plate-spin of intuitive mothering and my work as a feature film script editor and project manager. My passion is story of mum – especially making up quirky new activities, and hosting our #somum Mums’ Make Dates (2nd Wednesday of every month from 8.30 – 10pm GMT on Twitter).
My friend Loz Hardman died suddenly in 2009, She was an incredible source of brilliant parenting, work and relationship advice, and offered the world everything she had. Her life was my inspiration to just try this and see what happens.