Words and illustrations by Jenni Mazaraki
I only have so much time in the day.
There are only so many things that I enjoy doing in my life. I’d rather spend my life doing more of the things I enjoy than the things I loathe. Sure, there are always going to be bins to take out and traffic jams to be stuck in, but I have choices over a lot of other things that I can spend my time on.
When I had my first baby, I devoted every moment of my day to him. I held and rocked my crying boy until he fell asleep in my arms. People told me to dedicate some time to myself, where I could just be me. But I didn’t. I had an amazing child and I wanted to be there for him anytime he needed me. I gave my all to being a mother.
Then I crashed. I was running on adrenaline and no sleep. It was as if I had forgotten how to sleep longer than half an hour at a time. I felt my identity slipping away. Other people saw me as someone’s mother now and I was no longer me.
Before I knew it, I hadn’t done any drawing or writing for over a year. How is that possible? I’m an artist, I’ve always made art. And as an art therapist, I knew the importance of self care during times of stress and change.
So instead of thinking too hard about where I had gone, I started drawing again.
At first I drew tiny little sketches on small pieces of paper at the dining room table. With fineliner and watercolour, I tentatively created small artworks that I could easily finish in the evenings as my boy slept. It felt great not to work to a deadline or schedule or exhibition. These were my moments, just for me.I created tiny worlds that made me laugh. I drew the things I saw around me, an apple in the fruit bowl, a scene from a movie I’d loved. Then as I started looking outside myself and my home environment, I looked at the everyday scenes in my new life as I pushed the pram around.
I saw hopeful signs for lost dogs posted on street poles, I saw friends meeting in cafes for a cheerful chat, I listened to my friends talk about their lives and then I drew what I had seen and heard. All of these stories around me were my art in the everyday. The suburbs became my art gallery.
As I did more art, I felt like I became more like myself again. I craved more and more experiences to draw and write about. It was exciting to know that I had this time out and about with my son and I could tap into my own creativity at the same time. I realised that being a mother and being myself were not mutually exclusive.
So this is one of the reasons I am so passionate about making time and space for creativity. It’s not just about making stuff, it’s about being who you are.