Your Turn Now

Hello lovely reader, long time no read hey? I have been trying to juggle Art, words, employment and Mum duties so blogging hasn’t been at the top of the list really. Which brings me to my next drawing and musing. 

This illustration is called “Your Turn now” – water colour style acrylic, on paper –   This drawing was inspired by me thinking about a recent conversation I had with a friend who lately seems to have a few issues with how I live my life, and I came to an epiphany several weeks ago and below is the result. 

“Your Turn Now”

Lately I have been pondering parenthood, as quite recently I feel I have been unjustly accused of “putting my child ahead of myself and others”. Now, If you are a parent, I think you might find this a very silly thing to be accused of, as of course you put your children first. However when this “fault” of mine was put to me – not in those exact words, infact this opinion was thrust upon me in quite a lengthy monologue, listing other “major” personal failings of mine – but never the less it is what was being said. 

At the time of this accusation I was dumfounded and pathetically tried to deny this with, “WHAT!!! I do not!!!”. But as soon as I said “No” to this statement I realised I was wrong. I do put my child ahead of absolutely everything even other people, it is absurd to think I would do anything else. However, I think to some people, putting your child before your “needs” is a “sacrifice” to the detriment of the parent. But what is this “Sacrifice” ?

Parenting is an odd thing to undertake, as it is a choice that is made by at least one person, to raise another human being. However there are people who consciously decide not to make parenting something they would consider, and all power to that choice. I cant help admire and respect people who choose to acknowledge themselves and the freedom of choice that we have with in our society today and choose the option not have any children. However when choosing this path that is unique to most people, this choice can be considered very contentious in our western society. 

I find it odd that individuals who have been in the face of judgement for their decisions to not become a parent, would criticise someone making the choice to be a parent, and even further have opinions on how to parent. I liken it to criticising a mountain climbers’ technique who is halfway up a mountain, while the the critique is sitting at the bottom of the mountain not even attempting the climb. Let me also say I am no angel, and I am sure most people would be the same, that in the passed I have been completely awful and stupidly opinionated to people that had kids during the time when I did not have any. The thought of what I have said to some people makes me cringe with embarrassment and want to crawl into the darkest hole I can find. But that was the past and at the time of saying these ridiculous things I had absolutely no idea of what parenthood does to you and for you. 

So for the people sitting at the bottom of the mountain not wanting to, or unable to, or even they just forgot their hiking boots. Let me try to explain what parenting is like for most people and hopefully, this will make sense of the “sacrifice” we crazy people make when we enter the choice of parenthood. 

A couple of weeks ago I was hosting a playdate for my child and another school buddy. Now loads of people would groan at the thought of this, but I love it because it gives me a chance to sit back and watch the kids run around having fun, and it also gives me the best opportunity to take some time out to practice my quick sketching skills, by drawing the kids and other people sitting on benches, leaning on trees, or sitting on the ground. In short I have the best and cheapest life models at hand and it is excellent as no one realises what I am doing, because the kids are too occupied playing and the other parents are all just scrolling on their phones. It is fantastic, some of the body positions people get themselves into whilst exploring Facebook market place. I have found that playdates are just great opportunity to draw. 

Anyway I digress. 

I was hosting this particular playdate at a public pool where there was a free water park and the kids just ran themselves silly. As I was drawing and watching, this thought of sacrifice mulled around in my head, and it suddenly dawned on me as the two kids barrelled down the water slide for the 100th time, screaming and laughing. I remembered doing this too when I was a child, I remember having this special amount of fun and joy, all through my childhood, and as I grew the different types of “fun” changed. It moved from sprinklers on the lawn to pool parties, too shopping for the latest 90’s fashion at Sports Girl, making up dances to different boy bands (cringe), then eventually on to coffee and cake, then dinners, wine and late night dancing.

You see I have had my “fun”, I have had a-lot of fun, and I still have fun every now and again but it is now my child’s turn on the “slide”. My joy and fun is now watching my child having her own fun, laughing falling tumbling and then climb up to do it all again. This is now my complete joy, this is what I want to do. This feeling is better than any winery or boozy weekend. Don’t get me wrong that is nice, but nothing can compare to watching your own child play, squeal and laugh with their best buddy. Watching this is better than anything I have ever experienced or ever will. The peace, calm and happiness that wells up inside you is like no other, it changes you to the very core and is unfortunately unexplainable to someone that does not have this. 

Now there are different types of parenting, some take the stricter path, similar to the 1950’s of “Shut up and do what your told, there must be something wrong with that child” etc, others are quiet loose and “free range” similar to the 1960’s of “freedom, love and do as you please, their immune system will handle that etc”. I have chosen the cuddle/ gentle approach, showing patients and caring even in the face of tantrums, meltdowns, and bed times. But no matter how each parenting style differs there is one thing that will ring through all of these approaches which is we will always choose our child over anyone else. I choose not to force my child to do something she doesn’t want to do. I respect my child’s wishes and her sometimes frustratingly long climb to self autonomy. I do this because I feel forced independence for a child can be scary and at times traumatic. 

Parenting is stepping to one side so they can have a turn. It is showing them you are with them and that they can trust you to be there for them. From battling the midnight cupboard monster or managing screen time tantrums, children have to know they come first, it will help them grow into confident adults because they know someone has “their back”.

This is my opinion and how I choose to live my life, and raise my child. This is what parenting is like. And it is unfortunate that some people will never fully know this truth, but if it is your personal choice to walk this path please know that the parent choosing their child over you has absolutly nothing to do with you. The fact of the matter is YES my child does come before anyone else and it is unfortunate that some people can not see why this has to be, but it is the way it is, and has been since the begging of time. 

I hope this explains why I might appear to put my child before others.

Published by allihoward123

Allison Howard main passion has always been story telling works predominantly with illustration and completed her MFA at Monash University, Melbourne 2012. Graduating with the Chancellors award for best Thesis. Allison Has worked and collaborated with many artists and exhibitions, in both Australia and New Zealand. To be kept up to date with Allison's latest activity and to view her current and archived works please visit Instagram @alli.howard123 and hit the follow button.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: