September started with sunshine and bountiful blackberry pickings. Whilst I was stood pulling berries of the branches, my hands were turning a deep purple from the juice and scratched from the prickly thorns, I likened the process to motherhood. Once you start you can’t stop, it’s a little painful and discomforting in the process but when the berries are plump and ready for the pick the fruits of the labour is well worth the effort.
With my youngest recently turning four and starting full-time school. I no longer have babies at home during the week. Their dependency on me is less and they are starting to face the world. I had a tinge of ‘have I done enough’ as I got him ready for his first day and I heard other mother’s discussing the same. I wondered why in this society we question whether we have done enough and feel guilt for not doing. In fact, my son came back after his first day and said “Mama lets snuggle because you haven’t seen me for a while”. This week will probably be the first time I have been apart from my children more than I have been with. I have spent the last 7 years in the role of ‘Mother’ and maybe there are things I could have done better or differently or done more of but I certainly couldn’t have spent any more time with them. For a while I thought this was a privilege, and in many ways it has been but it was primarily a choice which came with its own set of sacrifices.
This ‘Mother and Child’ piece is one of three sculptures in Art in the Park in Bradford. When we went to visit, my youngest sat cross-legged next to the child in a direct representation of the position. In many of my husband’s ‘Mother and Child’ pieces there is some kind of balancing act going on between the Mother and the Child, they are connected physically. In this the positioning of the child separated from the Mother and facing away is symbolic of the stage I am in at the moment. The Mother here is however curled around baby, still in an attempt to protect. Like the blackberry bush, a little unwilling to let go of the berries but when she does, marvelous things can happen. With our pickings I may add, we have made, crumble, pie, blackberry lemonade and smoothies! Nb. No babies were harmed in the process!