Different selves and the other stuff


These past few weeks have been pretty intense – G is working to a deadline, the film industry is a tough one. He’s doing great because he is great but it means we hardly see him. So I’m working to a really tight routine in order to get everyone fed, clothed, clean and to where they need to be on time. Or close enough to on time. So I’ve got a full calendar with little alarms/ reminders set to tell me when to stop one thing and start another, when to do the school run, when to eat. We’re a small family and we are on our own in all of this, which I think is more common for families these days more than people like to admit. Generally I feel a strong push towards some ideal of ‘community’ values yet there is no community. My days are full and I’ve dropped out of all things social. I miss people, or I feel I should miss people, but I can’t go to events – they are all in the evening and usually require me not to take a child and I’m too tired. I wish visits to each other’s houses at reasonable times for cups of tea was more common than it actually is! But it is not so. I’m too tired to push for it, but maybe one day I could.
I used to try a lot more, but a growing child who is learning to read, who has a full time school schedule – which is much more full than I anticipated – dominates our lives and that’s pretty fair. It’s a very important time in her life. I don’t organize much in the way of activities outside of school because I think we all need rest, she needs rest. And I think she needs alone time and learn how to manage boredom. Which she does pretty well. Even though the entire house will become a museum/ dance hall/ theatre/ abomination after just one day… It’s doing good, I think.
So while I try to do it all I find it hard. Get up, get ready, walk to school, run errands, home and eat, a few hours to draw, school pick up, prepare dinner, dishes, probably laundry and get ready for the next day, bath, reading, pass out. I find switching between all the roles very hard. Especially when I get into the flow of drawing… Or when I come up against something challenging in my work, which is often at the moment because I’m experimenting. There’s no time to brew, reflect, fuck it up and fix it. So I cry, it’s frustrating. I’d love to do six/ seven/ eight hours days but no one else will do the other important things that need to get done. Sometimes I think “drop the art, it’ll make your life easier”… But isn’t that what women have been forced to do for all the years prior. I know it has been hard for many years and will still be for years to come but I have to make this work. I have to do it for me and for drawing. What a real shame if I just dropped it. Grandma wouldn’t be happy with me.
In saying this, I have dropped a lot of other things. Social life, online life, I don’t network.. Online or IRL, writing grants, heck I can’t even negotiate sales or anything because when I get time I just want to make The Work. That’s all I want to do. It feels urgent yet I have to negotiate the time for it and be patient. That is so hard to do.
I’ve just gotten home from an epic public transport journey of collecting art from one place to take it to another. I’m drinking lady grey and there is so much laundry to do it just feels stupid. But I’ll do it tonight because I am 33 and my saturday nights are wild. ( I actually really love my weekends staying at home especially in the cold because it is very lovely. )


3 thoughts on “Different selves and the other stuff

  1. Pauline O'Shannessy-Dowling on said:

    Hi Lily – I think you write really beautifully; I am always really interested to read what your thoughts. So much of what you have written resonated with me. I often have the feeling “to give up because it will be easier”. But then I think, what would be the point? Lately I am eschewing social events etc because I need time to be with my small family [& also my extended]; my home [super-important to me]; exercise my dogs & me. I try to choose on or two “things” to go to every week – during the day or evening; sometimes I might just go along for 60-90 mins. Sometimes I feel super-stretched in so many directions; I am trying to make my practice fully-sustainable, so that it pays for itself, etc, so I am trying to think like a small business person, make art, sell art, be present, accept work, find retail outlets, & on & on it goes. I also do some book-work & a few other jobs for my husband’s business. I have also started my Secondary Teaching studies this year, to help add to my practice & “business”. It can be mentally exhausting; but I find that if I don’t try & over-stretch myself, then everything work better. Daily walks are essential to my practice & being kind to myself & realising my limitations. I have so much admiration for your work XXX

    • Hello Lily. I have been following your blog for a while and your words, thoughts and feelings are so familiar to me. It was some decades ago that I was juggling and struggling the young family, the part-time work and (heaven help me) the innate need to paint and draw. There was little room for compromise, especially with raising children and with creating art. It may seem to others that giving up your art for your family is the answer, but it isn’t. It doesn’t work that way; you may as well give up breathing. So I raised my children and I still made drawings and paintings. I’m not saying it is easy, but I am trying to let you know that it is worth it. Before you know it there are no more school runs; no more reading before bedtime; no more toys and “play-debris” to pick up; and not quite as much laundry. There just might be messages from the other side of the world to say “Hi Mum. I’m fine. How are you? How is your painting going?” I guess I just wanted to let you know that you are doing the best you can and that, other than being a very talented artist, you seem to be an amazing woman. Don’t forget that it is just as important to show your daughter how important it is to have an identity, and we do that mainly by example. Looking forward to your next exhibition. Keep up all the good work and take care.

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