The next contribution to our guest series on motherhood and identity is a powerful and honest post from Sara Davies on how her post-birth journey transformed her sense of self.
Motherhood did two things for me. It very nearly cost me my sanity, and it gave me a voice. A voice that I thought I had lost years ago. My artistic voice.
After graduation I fell into the ‘good girl trap’. I wanted to please everyone around me; I wanted to be grown up with a proper career and a five year plan. Making art just didn’t fit with the vision that I was being sold by society.
So I settled down and fell into a series of deeply unsatisfying jobs. My boyfriend and I got married, we bought a house and a lawnmower, and everything was rosy. No, really, I was happy. I love my other half and I love the life we have created together. But something was missing. There was a small nagging voice at the back of my skull that would just not be quiet. At my core I was hollow. I missed making art so much, but didn’t want to admit to it, so just kept plodding onwards, ever onwards.
And then I gave birth to my lovely daughter, and my life turned upside down. In a good way, but also in a very very bad way. My whole sense of self was shattered. I didn’t know who I was anymore, where I was going or what my purpose was. Which is ironic, given that my purpose was clearly to nurture this tiny, fragile little person snuggled against my breast. But there you go. Motherhood is not as simple as people would have you believe.
It took me a long time to recognise what I was experiencing as Post Natal Depression. It didn’t fit into the box Health Visitors and the NCT have created for it. At the beginning of this year (nearly 18 months after giving birth) I had “an episode”, which made me confront what was happening and get help.
Then, as the fog lifted, I was desperate to start making art again. And not just make it, but to show it to other people; to define myself by it.
This time round I’m not letting what society thinks I should be doing get in the way of what I want to do. I need to set an example for my daughter. How can I encourage her to follow her dreams if I never follow my own? Making art makes me a better person, a better mother. Because I am whole again.
You can follow my progress on my blog www.morethanoneversion.blogspot.co.uk
And I am incredibly proud to be showcasing my durational performance AOB Item 1 at the SPILL Festival in Ipswich 31st October – 4th November 2012.
This month we’re sharing self-portraits that complete the sentence “I’m a Mum and a…” What’s the first word that comes into your head? Write it on a piece of paper and take a photo of you holding it up. You can see what other mums have told us about their identities and share your photo here.
For more posts on motherhood and identity, try