Long before becoming a mother or a doula/childbirth mentor, I have been a clay artist. This defining part of my life still has a deep hold on me. As a busy mother and birth-worker with not as much time to dedicate to art-making and creativity, I have to make a big effort to find ways to honour this connection to my place of origin. We all have these things in our lives, things that define us and hold us to a sense of self.
So what do we do as parents when the loving/serving work with our children takes so much of us, how do we find ways to stay connected to the parts of self that also need nurturing and caring?
It’s been a journey of a few years to figure these things out, but I have come to see that the less I give to feed this inner need, the more challenging it is for me to stay doing the work of motherhood/serving others without going a little crazy. Ya know? When things are out of balance for mama, everyone in my house feels it. So what does a good week of balance look like?
For me, it comes through as claiming a few (guilt-free) hours of the week to make it to my studio to reconnect and reaffirm with this inner voice. And on a smaller day-to-day level, it looks like a rather compulsive creative hand that needs lots of little activities (a bit of knitting, drawing, or writing, or other tiny sips from the creative well). And occasionally (oh sweetness!) it may be mixing various parts of my life together with some art-making- and I jump at the opportunity to bring together social, growing, and learning together with getting my hands in clay!
A couple weeks ago it was delight to host in my ceramic studio several of the Dancing Star Birth (DSB) mentors for an evening of clay work. Our plan was to make Labyrinths together in clay.
The ancient symbol of the Labyrinth is something many of the DSB mentors work with in our childbirth classes as a powerful metaphor for journey and transformation. Beyond my classes, I love drawing them, tracing them, walking them, and sharing them with other people who may be in places of change in their lives. Even for my kids, it’s a grounding activity to try when they are stressed and just need something to help them find some calm. Reflecting how the Labyrinth is a simple act of taking time for self, to be present and mindful- don’t these themes just continue to emerge in all of our lives? And the Labyrinth is also something I’ve wanted to make in clay for a long time as I’ve imagined tracing my fingers into the cool, moldable material, picturing how it would take shape…
So that night of gathering, each woman got to choose white or red clay, and then the explorations began! I offered some basic instructions for working with the clay and help set the stage, and then everyone set off on their own journey of making, not knowing exactly what would emerge from the process. Through the evening there was laughter, sharing, storytelling, and an attempt to remain mindful in our work with the clay. Each woman made something unique from their own hands and hearts, and it was an honour to help facilitate this creating of clay labyrinths.