Anna, Molly & Neve
Motherhood. That ten letter word which defines the state or time of being a mother, it slips so easily off the tongue and hints at an all inclusive club, a sorority which pledge is that of a full belly, a babe in arms or a child you call your own. It can be joined in a moment and its membership never expires, even those whose arms lay empty after heartbreak will forever be a mother in their bones. I am grateful to be one of these women, no matter how wild the journey can be. I know what it is for me to be a mother as I breathe it every day, from the moment my senses wake and even in unconscious sleep, as my breath escapes me, I am a mother to a boy. I know this as he calls on me so and every decision I make considers his face, I see my strengths and weaknesses as I navigate this life with him, always holding onto me, my ever present shadow.
As part of the new series Oh Mother, I have reached out to other mamas, to catch a glimpse through their eyes as they explore the life around them. Five mothers raising babes in adopted cities that they now call home.
The first amazing woman I'd like to introduce is Anna Blightman, photographer/artist, mother of two gorgeous girls Molly (4yrs) and Neve (6mnths), a British mama living in Berlin. Here she shares some moments with us.
1. Describe what the word motherhood means to you?
A vast word, with thousands of descriptions. Motherhood to me is unconditional love, making exhaustion manageable and tantrums forgivable. Helped by coffee and a quiet five.
2. Tell us a bit about the place you call home?
We live up high. On the fourth floor of a four floor building, this is high for Berlin. Our place is spacious, filled with quirks and creaky floorboards. We've been here since 2011 when Molly was not quite two and the place was unfloored and unfurnished She will be five in July, and our flat is now full, not only with possessions but with people.
3. What are the ups and downs of raising a family in Berlin?
Berlin is amazing to raise a young family, brimming with playgrounds, green spaces and kinder cafes. Not to mention very affordable child care. For almost every activity there is an English option, and ice creams are a standard €1 a scoop! On the downside we have no Grandparents nearby to share both the highs and lows (not to mention the babysitting !), and sometimes the misunderstanding of culture makes me feel like I'm floating here with just my family.
4. What is your favourite thing to do in Berlin with your kids?
Before Neve, cycling around the city was my favourite thing to do with Molly. The summer has brought on the lust for being outdoors, in the parks, at the sommerbads (lido). In the winter, a waffle and a hot chocolate at one of the multitudes of cafes is a great way to warm up after sledging!
5. How has becoming a mama changed you?
I'd like to say i'm infinitely more patient, more relaxed and less greedy. I think I am really too tired to care!
6. How does the cityscape influence your parenting style?
I'm not sure how to describe my parenting style, or how living here influences it. There is lots of interesting exhibitions, pop up workshops, young fashion labels and more for children. It is always interesting to see what is happening. The creative city perhaps encourages one to be more creative in your everyday life.
7. How do you achieve a creative work-life balance?
My creative - mother balance isn't really ever achieved. I look after the children when they need me, and create when I have time…I'd say one completely outstrips the other at the moment. But she is only six months old. My children become my creativity. I often use them in my photos, or, for example, I really enjoy cooking and baking for and with my children, so I've started to create some recipe cards. Everything just takes so much longer.
8. What's your favourite thing to do in the city when you're child free? Without children I like to walk quickly, take pictures, go swimming, oh and sleep. The occasional meal out, or cinema visit is always a treat.
10. What the best parenting advice your mother ever gave you? The best advice my mum gave me was to have my first child when I was doubting it all (and again with my second!).
Thanks Anna for sharing your thoughts with us. You can see more of Anna's Polaroid work at petitepost, Anna's blog and here.