I remember when Julian was three years old and his dad would be out on day trips taking photos of desolate landscapes or roses framed against broken windows. I’d be sorting clothes and sweeping floors while making a game of it with Julian so I could keep him close and safe. Left on his own - even for a minute - he could encounter some hazard, like burning his hand by reaching out for the blue flame of the heater or bringing a cassette player crashing onto his head by pulling on the electric cord. To keep him amused I would have to animate things. “Whoosh!” I’d say, billowing the sheets up in waves as I made the bed. I’d set him up on the rug in the lounge-room to play with some toy blocks while I feverishly mopped the hallway and the kitchen floor. Then we would have fun together skating on rags to dry it. Standing on a chair at the sink he could ‘help’ wash the dishes. It was mundane enough stuff, repetitive and quite tedious but also intense, because of the need to mind Julian. There was joy in it too, the companionable quality of mother and child bonding through work-play. I was fully engaged, yet at the end of the day, when Julian was finally in bed and his dad and I were together, I would find that we didn’t have anything much to talk about. Except for the photos. They said it all.
Updated: Aug 8, 2020