Welcome to the Creative Mothers series – a fortnightly series of guest blogs for people to reflect on the impact of parenthood on their experience of personal creativity. If you would like to take part with your thoughts, please take a look at the Creative Mothers page and do get in touch.
This week I’m delighted to welcome Ellen from Babies, Biscuits and Booze. One of my favourite new bloggers on the blogging block, I think Ellen has a beautiful way with words – balancing real humour and thoughtfulness in her ponderings on parenthood.
Today Ellen shares the place writing has occupied in her life over the years – from private diaries, and personal letters to a public blog. I find her enjoyment and positivity for what writing and creating can bring to an individual infectious….
I have never considered myself a creative person. My singing makes dogs howl, my dancing is enthusiastic but woefully lacking in rhythm and my drawing skills are so bad that being put on a team with me in Pictionary is seen as a punishment. I can’t sew or bake or paint or do crafts or play a musical instrument. I could carry on but I imagine you’re getting the picture. One thing I have always done, however, is write. I don’t think I ever really considered writing to be creative and until about two years ago I had never listed it as a ‘hobby or interest’ (meaning my list consisted of socialising, reading and walking. I dreaded that interview question!). To me, writing was as natural as breathing and is simply a part of my life.
As a child I loved writing stories or even just writing about things I’d been doing. I started keeping diaries and loved sending letters to people, writing long messages in birthday cards and jotting down my thoughts and feelings. I became notorious for my soppy cards and I began to write poetry. I’ve never really shared my poetry with anyone other than friends or family but a lot of my close friends and boyfriends have received poems from me as ‘gifts’. I’ve always felt that to process any ‘big’ feelings I needed to write them down. It was my therapy, my outlet and entirely necessary for my sanity!
During my pregnancy I would write poems to my unborn child or to my husband, I would reflect on the ways my body was changing and how I felt. I wrote about situations I found uncomfortable or difficult; for example I found being pregnant at a funeral something my philosophical brain couldn’t cope with and writing about it helped to order my thoughts. My family had given me a pregnancy journal which I loved filling in; I hope I can look back on it with my boy and tell him about how excited I was to meet him but how pregnancy can make you feel pretty shite!
And then, boom, my world is turned upside down when the baby boy arrives. I don’t think I wrote much in those first few weeks but I soon started writing little memories and feelings down again (usually in notes on my phone while I fed the bubba!). I then discovered the wonderful world of parent blogs! I read so many blogs during night feeds and it really made me feel less alone, it helped me to make sense of all the new situations I was faced with and, crucially, it gave me the idea to start my own blog. I had actually, once upon a time, intended to start a blog about feminism but it never quite materialised. I think the problem I had with starting a feminist blog was that occasionally there would be multiple issues I wanted to write about but other times there wouldn’t be anything at all. I worried that I would start it and then go months without writing anything. The beauty of blogging about my baby and family life is that there is always material!
Here’s a poem I wrote about how my feelings about my body and self changed during pregnancy:
40 weeks you grew in my womb
and my body didn’t feel like mine anymore
Prodded and poked
Strangers commenting on my size and shape like never before
Everything I put in my mouth I worried what you would taste
and everyone had something to say
We called you Bloblet and declined to know your gender
When the kicks started my worrying became less frequent
I was happy, though my body felt tender
when my stomach contorted like something from Alien
I knew you were healthy and happy in your cocoon
Funny how you can love somebody so intensely
before they’ve taken a first breath
And then, two days before your ETA it was me stepping up to the plate
A hospital room, exhaustion and pain
You pooed too early, they think you are in distress
My hopes of a relaxing water birth laughable
Hooked up to monitors, trapped on a bed
Crying, scared, getting into a state
My body doesn’t feel like mine, it’s out of my control
I can’t do it. I tried my best
They pull you out with what your dad calls barbecue tongs and our hearts stop
There’s a cord round your neck
but you’re screaming and they move it quickly and oh then you’re on my chest
and I love you I love you I love you
You are mine
My body is yours still as I feed you
My milk is everything you have and need
to sustain you, the responsibility is all mine
But I celebrate this. I am proud of you and myself, too.
And you, my boy, are my whole heart, happiness, love.
In blogging I have discovered new friends and found a creative outlet that I am happy to share with people. It helps me to feel as though there is more to me than just my role as a mother and wife; I’m still a person in my own right with my own interests (although is it ironic that I’m writing about being a mum?!). It was scary publishing that first blog and wondering if anybody would read it but I had such positive reactions and soon became engrossed with the blogging community. Everybody was so encouraging and friendly that it inspired me to aim a little higher and blog regularly. Most of my posts are a light hearted look on our family life and how we are coping (or not!) as new parents. I have written a few heartfelt, personal posts that made me feel as though I was baring a little bit of my soul but they were the ones which basically wrote themselves – I felt I had to publish them. I’ve always received good feedback and support; luckily I haven’t been faced with any trolls so far!
Being a mother has made me want to create more, to feel more in tune with myself as a singular being rather than part of the family. I have had so much joy from getting involved with the blogging community and focussing on myself a little each day has (I hope) made me a better mother!