One of my earliest memories is my mum playing her rock’n'roll records and looking through her photo albums – all the pictures of her with her Sharpie boyfriends and their hot cars. She was always so cool, with her red hair and refusal to conform, in her own ways. Mum taught me to be myself, an Individual. One of the worst things was to be a sheep, to go along with the pack. And no matter what I’ve done in my life, or how different I’ve been to her, she has never judged me or not been there to support me and love me. I still get cards in the mail calling me Honey Bee and telling me how proud she is of me. She was by my side both times when I gave birth, bringing new lives into the world. I’m very lucky. Even now, she’s still rock’n'roll dancing every week. Love you Mum!!!
Today is Mother’s Day and I did not get breakfast in bed – and for this, I am truly grateful. There is something about living the ad which just makes me want to stab myself in the heart and die a bloody death. Fluffy towels, bubble baths, ducks and Kleenex, even the word “pamper” – the whole lot just makes me want to puke. Instead, I got up, put on my docs and my headphones and walked down to my local cafe listening to the Ramones and being followed by four ravens (true!). Later, I’m taking my mum to lunch and meeting my daughter down Victoria Street for Vietnamese. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a mother and I adore my children more than anything or anyone in the world, but “Motherhood” in the way it is publicly portrayed, and commonly perceived, sucks. I have never been able to relate to what is seen to be “normal” motherhood, and even if I had wanted to, I could never have conformed to the stereotype of a responsible, good mother. There are just far too many intrinsic links with repression, limitation, subjugation and all those other words I learned at uni. Maybe that was my big mistake: going to university and falling in love with the term “Subvert the dominant paradigm.” Fuck yeah! Now THAT was exciting.
I was still at university when I discovered I was pregnant. Naively, I thought it was pretty cool, and it gave me a really good excuse to hand my Blake essay in late. I still remember sitting in my favorite professor’s room imparting the news nonchalantly and offering him some of my licorice (for which I had developed a sudden and, to my mind, rather intriguing craving). I had no idea of what was to come, how motherhood would change my life forever, in a zillion different ways’, I just thought I’d put the baby in my backpack and keep going to classes. Seriously delusional – or as my mum has always told me, I “lack common sense.” Yeah, right.
To be honest with you, the first few years of motherhood were hell. Again, I just want to say that this was not because Imogen or Julian were anything but perfectly divine, but because I was just not cut out for motherhood in that domestic, nurturing, totally immerse-yourself-in-kiddie-world kinda way. I suffered intense post-natal depression. Fuck, I shudder just thinking of it. I flash back to a picture in our little house in the leafy, middle-class suburb of Camberwell, toys and books and nappies and bottles everywhere, my partner gone to work for the day, not having the energy to organize the massive excursion that going anywhere would be, loads of housework waiting to be done, shopping and cooking and …… oh dear god. There was no communal sense of sharing the work and the children, no hive of activity to join in and laugh together, just isolation and terrifying repetition, day after day. The only thing to do during the day if you wanted to get out of the house was to either go shopping or visit a friend who was in the same situation, drink tea and let the kids play. Eat cake. I was absolutely, appallingly bad at being a wife/mother person. I never had dinner ready, or even organized, I’d go insane every Sunday and rip all the clothes out of the wardrobe and totally destroy the bedroom, which felt like the walls were closing in and the order was eating me up. I’d jump out of the bathroom window and lie naked on the leaves there. Anything to smash through the numbness, the expected behaviour, the domestication of the soul.
How many times did I dress up in my black finery and stand on a chair, dancing in front of the mirror to the Smashing Pumpkins or Joy Division. I yearned deeply for romance and a magic that I could feel but didn’t know how to manifest, except in my own fantasy world. I read Interview With The Vampire, studied Gothic Fictions and painted and powdered my face, dreaming the dark. Whilst the Empress part of me would look after my babies and love my Emperor, my secret soul was delving into the private world of the High Priestess, feeding and enriching the wild, untameable part of myself that would always be separate to my roles as mother and partner. I would hang the clothes on the line in my gothic splendour, alone on the grass, the little ones being gorgeous and hilarious around me. Imogen was born with some kind of faery magic I cannot quite define. She KNEW stuff, and always had this innate wisdom that was just way beyond one lifetime. That was so exciting to discover. As a mother, I was so blown away with this little girl who was her own unique soul, and she’d come into existence through my body! Freaky!! Brilliant!! She was like a little doll, and I’ve always loved playing with dolIs; I loved dressing her up and listening to her sing her little songs and mimic me on the phone. It was when she was about a year and a half old that I walked into the Esoteric Bookshop with Imogen in her pram, and my journey with Witchcraft truly began. Bringing that old magic into the home made all the difference to me. Suddenly, the mundane was transformed into the magical, and as Imogen and I danced to Selene, Goddess of the Moon, burnt candles and sweet orange oil, and made chamomile tea, our bonding was deepened beyond the normal. Delving into the soulful, secret world of female magic, of witchcraft, it was only then that I could begin to feel the true magic of blood and birth and the divine miracle of motherhood. It felt real. It made me happy.
By the time Julian came along, I’d kind of got into the swing of things a bit more. I was back at uni a couple of days a week and as time went on I felt more myself. Then the real restlessness began, and built up and up until by the time I hit my 30th birthday, nothing could contain the energy anymore… and I jumped into the Fool’s journey for the next decade, exploring everything I could in many different subcultures, through art and friends and lovers and travelling. I guess this is where the real judgment comes in as far as being a mother is concerned. Not just judgment from the outside world, but from within yourself. I think it’s basically impossible once you are a mother not to feel guilt of some sort: we all fall sadly short of perfection.Too much love, not enough love – it’ll be something. And we will be duly judged for these shortcomings one way or another, which is kind of funny really, when you realize how you judged your own mother.
Anyway, let’s just say my kids had a wild ride once I took off from Camberwell and flew North. I was searching for my self, my home and my truth, and I felt deeply compelled to do so- as I’d somehow lost them all along the way. I needed to find myself not just through motherhood, but through my art and my relationships and my spiritual life and whatever else drew me in. Indeed, to live any other way would have been akin to binding and gagging me and telling me to be a good girl now. Forfeit your soul for sweet cakes, darling. Hmmmmm. I don’t think so. Sorry! But I did feel guilty, and selfish, and terrified, I had gone out alone in a way that had no structure, no end goal or destination, and certainly no security. My toaster and kitchen utensils were in a box in some boy’s back shed. Imogen and Julz would come and stay with me wherever I lay my hat, whilst their dad provided the much-needed stability that I couldn’t.. I felt like a total fuck-up. They saw me cry, but I also gave them great, crazy adventures and loved them deeply and passionately with all I had. And I was ALIVE. I hadn’t succumbed to the pressure to conform. We weren’t a perfect bank ad family. I’d shattered the stereotype and warned them about advertising and the programs they were being indoctrinated with from the time they could understand. I taught them to question everything, to think for themselves. To be highly suspicious of men in suits. Or tracksuits. When Julian was only a wee lad of about 4, he told me that he had chosen me as a mother because he wanted to be free. At that moment, I felt the pure, unconditional love of a mother and her child, and it broke my heart open and flowers bloomed out of me and stars burst through the skies and the ravens swooped down and pecked out all my iniquities. I have a picture of Monica ‘Bellucci reclining in a black bra and fur coat up on my toilet wall with the quote “I’m a good mother, but I’m a bad girl.” Yep, she’s one of my kind…