Mosaics of Mothering
I am very blessed to have a lovely friend who makes pottery and as a family and at various groups we have spent many a happy hour squidging clay and making our own, albeit rather haphazard, pottery creations. My eldest daughter has taken a particular interest in this and is now confident to recycle her own clay, to make bowls, animals, pots etc and has attended a local clay club.
Recently my friend dropped round a huge box of assorted small and broken tiles along with the simple instructions to make mosaics. (You basically just stick them on with PVA then have the option to grout over them.)
So early one morning it was decided that we would give the mosaics a try and we enjoyed a happy and relaxing couple of hours picking through the tiles and arranging them to make designs and patterns on pieces of wood.
This was a really fun and creative thing to do, and was so accessible for all ages and abilities; my 2 year old watched for a little while and then joined in carefully selecting tiles and arranging them to make his own design. My 5 year old had a clear plan of exactly what she would do, and simply selected the right tiles and made her design, and my eldest daughter took the different approach of picking out tiles of similar colours and textures and then taking the time to arrange them in different ways and experiment with what she liked before committing them to glue. I picked out the pieces I liked and then arranged smaller pieces all around them. And the result… Four beautiful mosaics, all individual, unique and colourful which have pride of place on our kitchen shelf.
As those mosaics have sat in our kitchen and I’ve glanced at them day after day, they’ve reflected back to me much wisdom of life, mothering and family!
For the boxes of small and broken tiles in the beginning were really nothing much at all, and indeed on their own would not amount to a great deal. Yet when we took them, each one by one, held them a little, noticed their colour, shape and texture, we began to see their beauty, and how, when arranging them with other similar pieces, they would, together, become much more than the sum of their simple parts.
The simple process created a unique, interesting and beautiful piece of art, which each of us had very much enjoyed doing. And it struck me how this can be liked to our days as mothers.
The small, and at times, seemingly insignificant, aspects of our days as mothers can be likened to the little tiles; the many repetitive domestic tasks, the repetitive care of babies, the seemingly constant breastfeeds and broken nights, the holding of little hands, reading stories, and listening to the stories and dramas of our older children, the breakfasts, lunches, packed lunches, picnics and bedtimes, brushing teeth, cuddles and laughter, wiping tears, plastering knees… the list goes on for each of us…
Yet these are the tiles of our mosaics of motherhood, and although each little tile seems at times unimportant, when we step back and reflect for a moment, we can see just how important each and every one of those little moments are; for it is these tiles which create the overall mosaic of our family life and our children’s childhoods.
And the attitude we take when carrying out these tasks is akin to the glue which holds the pieces together; for it is our love and attitude to mothering, and to our children, which take all of the little pieces we have chosen and holds them together. And when we step back for a moment, we can see that all the experiences, the magnificent, the difficult and the everyday, somehow come together to create the beautiful and unique artwork which is our family.
Yet there is another way too in which mosaic can reflect our family lives; imagine our family lives as a beautiful piece of colourful ceramic, maybe a bowl, plate or tile, perhaps over time cracks and chips begin to show, or we could just simply drop the plate in a moment of haste – the result is the same; the beautiful thing is shattered into many sharp pieces. We may be shocked, hurt, bewildered, lost or angry; yet with time, the beauty of mosaic offers us a way forward.
Things are broken, but we are able to look at all of the pieces, and one by one, we are able to begin to pick them up, to examine them, to decide which ones we would like to keep and which are damaged beyond repair. And we are able once again to begin to create a new picture, we can use many of the old pieces, yet now we also have the opportunity to add new pieces, of different colour and texture, and over time, create a new piece. Of course it will look different to how things were before, yet in the transformation, we will learn much about ourselves and our loved ones, their colours and textures, and the different ways of arranging things.
We can build something great and beautiful from the pieces we have, and it is by taking the time to collect these pieces, hold them in our fingers and put them together, glued with our love and dedication, that we create our families, over and over as the changes sweep through our lives like the seasons.
There is no paint-by-numbers guide, and who knows how things will work out, yet all we must do is lovingly work with each piece, one at a time, day by day, and through this process we build loving, unique and authentic families.
If this process resonates with you, and you would like to share your experiences of change and transformation through mothering I am once again inviting women to contribute to my book-in-the-making Milestones of Motherhood. If this interests you then please do get in touch with me, Clare Cooper, via firstname.lastname@example.org