Mother of The month
1. What’s your name, and your children's names and ages? Where are you based? What kind of making do you do or dream of doing?
I am Ruth Dudman, and my boys are Hollis who is 5 and Murphy who is 2 and a half. We live in Worthing, on the South Coast and I work freelance as an independent producer.
2. How do you do it?! How do you make it work?
I love it when other people bring their children along to work (I jump at the chance to snuggle babies and play with toddlers) but I’ve never felt like it works for me to bring my own children. I have spent A LOT of my time puzzling over childcare arrangements over the last five years. Both my husband and I are freelance, which means routine is out the window and the childcare juggle is a constant topic of slightly frustrated conversation in our house. I think each new stage/age of the children has required new thinking. I am definitely still learning and it often feels like a scramble, but at the moment our main survival tactics include:
1) A few trusted people that the children know well and we can call on when we get stuck (I am intentionally cultivating this pool of people as I have realised it’s a life saver).
2) A pre-school that is flexible enough to take our youngest for a bit of extra time at short notice.
3) Trying to arrange slightly more childcare than I think I need so I’m not always completely up to the wire. This means as well as doing the ‘work’ work, the quality of my thinking and planning is so much better. Shaking off the guilt of occasionally having some time to myself was also a great move on my part. I would recommend it.
4) And if all else fails it’s emails in bed and Paw patrol on the i-pad. Yep, no shame.
3. How has your mothering impacted your making?
I run a programme of work called Motherworks which is a platform for exploring maternal mental health and our experience of motherhood - so quite a lot! As a producer motherhood has also made me much more considerate and compassionate towards the other people I am working with. And of the other parts of their lives outside work that are (obviously) more important than anything. It has also enabled me to use a single hour/half an hour/5 minutes pretty effectively – and as part of that I’m learning to let go of perfection. I’m trying to replace it with a kind of ‘fast and furious’ attitude instead. But I don’t think my work suffers from that, I think if anything it has just made me bolder. Nothing is ever perfect anyway.
4. And vice versa?
Works gives me energy and I get excited about it. And that means that even if I am really tired, I have more energy to be with my boys and I am much more able to be excited about what they are excited about. It also pays the bills and puts the fish fingers on the table – a pretty crucial part of my mothering too.
5. The best thing? The hardest?
Over the last year I have been working with artists whose practice explores our relationship to motherhood – including those who have suffered personally with poor maternal mental health. Lots of their work interrogates some of our social attitudes around mothering and exposes misinformed or unhelpful narratives. I’m learning a lot and my own mothering has definitely been informed in the process. So I feel really grateful for that and their work.
I don’t know about the hardest, but one of the worst things has got to be feeling torn. The feeling I can only sum up as the “My child has got chicken pox, but I really REALLY need to go to work today.”feeling.
6. Future dreams?
To run Motherworks for as long as it feels relevant and necessary.
Sat 8th June, Cambridge Junction.
The day will present new work from artists exploring maternal mental health and our relationship to motherhood. Featuring work by artists including Anna Furse & Nina Klaff, Hunt & Darton, Edith Tankus, Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, Search Party and Frauke Requardt & Daniel Oliver. Plus speakers from Arts and Minds and Mothers Who Make. The programme is designed primarily for an adult audience, however all performances are relaxed and people with babies and children are warmly welcomed. We understand our audience may need to make noise, move around and eat their snacks throughout.
Motherworks and Maternal Journal callout
We are looking for pregnant women*, or people who have given birth within the last year who have a history of mild/to moderate mental health problems to take part in 5 free creative workshops.
Sessions: Weds 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th May & 5th June 11am—1.30pm (inc refreshments) Cambridge Junction, CB1 7GX. Sessions are led by artist and midwife Laura Godfrey-Isaacs and a series of guest artists including Hollie McNish, Bridget Minamore, Anna Furse and Jodie Hawkes.
Email: Laura.godfreyisaacs [at] gmail.com for more information on taking part.
Find MOTHERWORKS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @motherworksuk
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