I am a mum weeping on the bathroom floor because my kids won't sleep. I am a Project Director running a European film project with panache. I am a dancing woodland fairy casting giggling kiddy-spells. I am a task-master ordering unwanted toothbrushes into grumpy mouths. I am a high-kicking shame-buster changing the world. I am a bullied schoolgirl, scared and over-protective. I am me. I am a mum. I am a mum-me. And it isn't easy.
Since becoming a mum, my identity has changed dramatically. For a while, I felt I'd lost it completely. Then slowly it began to appear again, to reinvent itself - a mosaic of mismatched pieces, old and new.
Many of those pieces have been life-changing, transformative - blessing me with the ability to live joyfully in the moment. And weighing me down with an immense fear of loss and failure.
Many pieces are yet to find their place and pattern. But at last, a picture is starting to emerge...
What happens when you explore your own Mama Mash-Up? What picture might emerge of your identity? I wrote about the impactful experience of making mine for Kind Over Matter here: High-Kicking Shame-Busters.
Join us for this month's activity: Mama Mash-Ups. These are a key part of our touring exhibition Story of Mum: Mums Making an Exhibition of Ourselves. It is a simple but powerful collage activity - choosing two or more images that capture different aspects of our identity and pasting them together in strips. You don't have to capture everything in one image, just something. There are some wonderful examples in the gallery so far, and we would love to see yours.
The Mama Mash-Up activity was inspired by this wonderful example from Suzi Banks Baum - she explains: "I used an image of Gloria Steinem from a magazine, interposed with a vintage 50’s glamour advertisement and played over it with a contemporary rock climber. That, to me, is the interplay of women today, whether or not you consider yourself a feminist, to stand for our beauty, value and integrity in new ways by calling on and engaging new layers of understanding of what it is to be a woman."
Suzi is also guest posting for us this month about her experience of being a creative mother everyday, and collating her beautiful anthology of words and images from mother artists - read her post here.
Our fabulous virtual exhibition tour is drawing to a close. It has been an inspiring and often moving insight into how mothers view ourselves today - who we are, what we stand for, and how we respond to each others' experiences.
If you haven't had a chance to catch all the exhibition posts yet, you can find them all here, or browse the virtual tour Pinterest board. We'll have a few more in the next few days... You can also follow the exhibition round-ups at BritMums.
One of my most popular posts, Invisible Mothers, explains why this exhibition is so important.
What happened last month?
We had a fabulous Ode to Mum-Bodies Make Date on twitter, producing my favourite storify and post-Make Date post ever. Some lucky mums also won prizes galore from organic skincare maestros Bloom Remedies.
I exposed the horrors of my knicker-drawer and my six top tips for a diet-free MmmmMama-Body, describing my body transformation over the past year. That post inspired some of you to think differently about your bodies (hooray! my work here is done...)
We revisited our ground-breaking Love Mum Body gallery, shared a moving post from I Like Beer and Babies' own mum-body series: Body by Baby, and gathered your thoughts on which parts of your mum-body you love best for our Facebook competition (with prizes from the lovely and generous Snuglo).
We also joined in with Playful Learning's wonderful global tour, learning about play around the globe, and sharing some of the fun we've had with their online courses. I interviewed my children about what they like to play most, and loved hearing more about how you play with your kids.
What's happening this month?
We would love you to join us to make Mama Mash-Ups at our next #somum Make Date on Wednesday 11 September from 8.30-10pm on twitter (find the time in your timezone here). We'll have some inspiring prizes for you too, hot off the press - more information coming soon!
If you're in Cornwall, come and join us in Penzance at The Exchange on 12 and 13 September. Our exhibition, starring YOU, will be there until 10 October, so pop in, make an exhibition of yourself, and celebrate everything that you do. You amazing mother, you!
If you're in London, we'll be at The Photographers' Gallery on 18 and 19 October, so put that in your diary! More details coming soon...
Make some time for you and have a go at the Mama Mash-Up if you haven't already. But most importantly, treasure every part of your mashed-up mama identity, the good and the bad, the brave and the scared, the me and the mum. It's all you. And you are more than enough.
With much mashed-up love,
Pippa and Penny