I’m learning to pause

and I’m learning to choose my battles. In fact, I’m learning to walk gently and
with intent across eggshells these days, as a mother to a teen.

We’re fast approaching the two-year mark of when I last held up my camera to photograph her
within our day-to-day family life, when she said “no photos please.” So this unplanned series of
self-portraiture carries on, with me continuing to photograph myself in the situations I see her in,
but she won’t let me. This photographic series has started to include me attempting to visualise a
few of my escapisms, from these constant eggshells I walk over, beside her, to constantly show
that I’m here.

Navigating a young person through school exams, along with some anxiety and self
consciousness, has me feeling all sorts of out of control during this tricky and intricate time. I find
that I’m having to learn super-quickly, from which pieces of my well-meaning advice are said out
loud, or whether I ask certain questions like which subjects she’s revising today; I’m often met with
an eye-rolled silence or various dramatic ways of saying “leave me alone.” I now try to rehearse
any motherly advice in my head a few times over before deciding if I should say them out loud.
Sometimes I have out-loud moments on the days that I drive her to school. It’s these precious car
journeys that have become important to us both. A time when we grab coffee and toast for the road
and get to align ourselves for that day ahead. But sometimes we don’t talk at all, we just turn up
the music and sing Glee soundtracks very loudly and it’s these moments I will always treasure.

When I start conversations about how proud I am of her, about how she’s navigating first-time
challenging situations in life her own way, I find myself explaining that I was never that smart and
aware as she is, when I was her age. I’m usually met with a response of “what is it with all the
inspirational speeches mum, and why do you squeeze them all into one car journey?”

I know I’m not alone, my teen-mum friends and I regularly confer, listen and commiserate in each
others’ stand-offs with our kids. All the while never losing hope that everything will make sense and
be more harmonious again. After all the day our babies were born, we gave them our hearts and
from that day onwards we’re right here sharing the highs and lows, for richer for poorer as the
saying goes.
With all the insightful parenting podcasts collectively listened to, the ‘I’ve been there myself’ blog
posts read, along with the dipping in and out of ‘you’ve got this’ styled-books, I have an unwavering
certainty without any of the aforementioned. Which is this; my grounding comes from our ever-
evolving relationship between a mother and daughter, and that how we navigate this time between
us will always be uniquely ours.

So choosing which conversations come from my thoughts to my mouth has become a finely tuned
art form. And as we sing along to that final Glee track before turning into the school gates, I glance
sideways and know that she’s going to be a force of nature in this world, she’s going to be just fine.


As featured in the Summer 2023 issue of Juno Magazine

This is Artifact Motherhood; a collaboration of artists and mothers from around the world, who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Through our writings and visual records, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artefacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.

Next up in the blog circle is the talented artist,  Diana Hagues

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