Little steps

Today was the first full day where I left Amelia with our lovely friend Ms. L and her little girl (who is Amelia’s age) along with another friend’s toddler to be looked after for the day. This is going to be an ongoing once-a-week formal arrangement for another few months until Ms. L is too far along in her pregnancy to cope with a house full of toddlers. I am pleased to have a free day for dedicating to my work as I have a show booked for early March and as yet nothing to exhibit.

We have been spending a bit of time over at Ms. L’s place over the last few weeks in a kind of “orientation” way. I even managed to dash home for a couple of hours and do two loads of washing one week, leaving a weeping little girl behind. Of course, she was fine after 3 minutes but there is nothing worse than hearing your little child sobbing “Mum-Mummmm!” from behind a closed door as you rush away wiping away tears of your own.

Today I dropped her off around 9.30 and she immediately took prime position on the couch ready to watch Playschool and started happily sorting through a handbag full of play money. I told her that I was going, and to remember to ask Ms. L if she needed anything. “I don’t need anything Mum-Mum.” She replied as if I was a bit odd. I was being a bit odd. I felt quite awful leaving her there. Ms. L and the two other little girls came to wave me off at the door but Amelia was happy to keep her seat. I am grateful there were no tears but I still felt totally strung-out as I drove home.

So, what did I do with my first day? Well, I went in to see the Munch exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Research and inspiration of course. A totally legit way to spend a work day…

We have such ready access to art now on TV, in books and magazines and on the web, it’s easy to forget what an incredible impact real art, painted on canvases, hanging on the walls of a gallery has when you are actually standing in front of it. The exhibition is only on for another week or so but it is really worth catching before it goes. Amazing intensity, beautiful colour and rhythm.

I only had a couple of moments where the “I hope she’s doing ok” terrors overcame me, one was in front of a traumatic drawing of a alarmingly distressed little figure called “the abandoned child” which was really a bit much. It’s a good thing there was no service for my mobile phone in the gallery or Ms. L would have been receiving some irritating phone calls.

Coming home to do some of my own work is always quite difficult after spending time with real art that breathes and heaves with great weight but I have managed to make some progress with my first piece.

And I picked up Amelia at 4pm and she had apparently had a wonderful day. No crying, no fighting, big sleeps and a Wiggles video and some Smarties which seem to have been the highlight.

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13 Responses

  1. I know how hard it is. When I left my daughter, Belly at preschool the first time, I think I was harder on me than it was for her! Now she just gives me a kiss, a high-five and says “see you later”!

  2. Walking away from a crying child is very hard. It doesn’t get any easier no matter how old they are. This arrangement could have some added benefits for Amelia, though. Will it still be going on when you move? Having some continuity in her once-a-week day care might make the transition a bit easier. You may find that she starts picking up other kids’ funny habits which really amuse me with Zac who decided today that he couldn’t possibly go anywhere without his “sheety”. Thing is, he doesn’t have a sheety so we had to find one so he could pretend to be emotionally dependant on it!
    Good luck for the move and all those day dreams you will have until the end of Feb (when you will imagine every possible arrangement of furniture only to discover that the room is much bigger / smaller than you thought!)

  3. I remember the first time I had to drop my son off at day care. It was a little nerve wracking, but over time, it’s gotten easier. And it will get easier. Jake has grown into a more independent and flexible child with day care.
    Oh, and BTW– SQUEE about the show!

  4. says:

    I was very pleasantly surprised by the Munch show. Not really expecting to enjoy it, like you I was drawn in by the surfaces and rhythms and sheer weighty presence of those canvases.

  5. Hi Claire, I’m a lurker. *hi* I love your stories and your little one is lucky to have such a dedicated mom…this time to yourself will only make you more so!
    The link to the Village Voice top 100 films isn’t working. I’m interested to see what’s on there, is there an update for it?

    All the Best,

  6. hi i know its a bit off the subject but i met a lady called jacinta leashman. She is a textile artist who lived in london for a number of years. when she got back here she was shocked that she could not find the kind of dyed silks she was used to. So she started doing it herself. I was talking to her and she mentioned some el fabo shop – i think in northcote somewhere which has the best dyes for silk, cotton and wool. I wish i could remember the name – but if you emailed her i bet she would tell you. Her site is myself have been experimenting with felt – using just watercolour on felt and then silk paints – which do of course last – you can see some of the experiments in my shop.. in the journals and sold sections.
    anyway goodluck

  7. Hi Claire — This is in regard to your previous post. This may be a helpful site. I remember seeing the link on Identity Seven’s site – she uses meltie feltie.
    Here’s the link:

  8. The first time I left Rosie at daycare I stood outside for an hour then went in and got her. She was fine of course. It got better of course. The most disconcerting thing for me as a Mom is still the moments of free time that I have…

  9. ahh – I remember when Smarties were the high-light of my day. Actually they’re still a high-light.
    Enjoy your new space.

    Best wishes from Wales


  10. that sounded awful and yet so neccessary at the same time. im sure amelia enjoys time on her own, just like you. gosh.. i can’t imagine the day for my baby niece to reach that stage. and i saw botero at the singapore art museum last weekend and i agree.. on canvas it’s just so different, u can see the strokes and the inperfections, the quirks that come alive. i enjoy digital art but i love going back to the basics.. it’s just so inspiring and beautiful. each piece is really a work of art.

  11. says:

    I have been on the ‘looking after’ end of the bargain a number of times and it never ceases to amaze me how these little people learn to cope so well so quickly! I am also very impressed with the mums and dads who can walk away without the ‘turn back and check if they’re ok’ pause :)Yay for kids!!

  12. YAY for the show indeed!! So excited for you!! I’m going to have to go see it!! And yes, taking yourself to the Munch exhibition is too important to your creative dreams!!
    I miss Philadelphia, where, as a student, I could walk down to the museum on a whim, for free, and draw all day! It was there that I learned the importance of seeing artwork in person.

    For anyone who hasn’t done so, try it at least once! It’s amazing!

  13. says:

    My daughter Stephanie was four months old the first time I left her at day care. Yes, it was hard to leave her there but I had kind of “read up” on what to do about that situation. If you show angst, they will pick up on that, and they will show angst. If you show you’re confident about the situation, then they’ll pick up on that too. That’s how I dealt with it. By the way, my daughter is 26 now, married, living out of town, and is an amazing artist too. She is the one who sent me to your website. You may know of her or her
    I felt compelled to write and let you know. It does get better and goshdarnitall, they grow up SO FAST! Hang in there and give Amelia all the time you can when you ARE with her. Kindest regards!