Mummy are those real people in your phone or just pretend like on CBeebies?

Squares of Creativity

I’ve been 'on Instagram' for about 5 months now and while it still feels very new territory for me (I basically have no idea what I am doing/should be doing/could be doing on there, but given half a chance I’d happily scroll through pretty pictures of cakes and flowers rather than picking the food out of the dishwasher drain thingy AGAIN), I’m starting to feel at home in the little squares.

As a full time mum of a nearly 1 year old and a 3 year old (plus a very needy long haired cat with abandonment issues), and having recently become self employed, it has been nice to feel part of a bigger community of parents trying to balance work, children, fun, creativity, discipline (insert incredulous laughter) as well as finding/clinging to/growing our own identities as people; not just as grown ups with pockets full of half used tissues and half eaten snacks.

I’ve personally found it a positive experience overall, especially in terms of the creative inspiration and the ‘you can do it’ vibe that seems to emanate from hundreds and thousands of photographs of fellow ‘makers’; all doing their thing in their very own way. Whilst in the background, like a giant, delicate, sometimes barely perceptible spiders web; are the cheerleaders of the #thinkbigshopsmall movement, #smallbusiness advocates and campaigners.

It’s been great to feel I’m playing my teeny tiny part in this movement; a tiny fly in this enormous web. But sometimes is still gets lonely working on your own and you just can’t get that same feeling over a screen as you can get face to face. I think my son summed it up when he quizzically pondered who these people were on my phone when he glanced over my shoulder as I scrolled through my Insta feed. I tried to explain the concept of social media (!!) which was pretty hilarious (I trailed off after a few attempts as I didn’t honestly know how to explain it and his eyes glazed over after I’d repeated the word internet 5 times). It is amazing when you get positive comments, orders and feedback online but I think most people would agree that nothing is quite like real life interaction.

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So I was really excited to be a part of the second #bluebirdshandmademarket on Sunday - it was an event organised by Salvaged Norfolk, specifically to showcase local makers. It was actually a slightly surreal experience; I had come across a few of the other stall holders online in the run up to the event and it was SO lovely to meet them in REAL LIFE. It was a timely reminder after my son’s confusion with ‘the people in my phone’ that all of these ‘followers’ are actually real life people (who’d have thought!?), who make REAL things that you can touch and feel and smell and taste, and they each have their story; their reason for doing what they’re doing.

Salvaged Norfolk definitely deserve a big THANK YOU for recognising and rounding up the talent in Norfolk/Suffolk and creating an event we can be proud of; we shouldn’t always be looking longingly at the creative communities in London and other cities; we should be building our own amazing network. For anyone out there who is squirrelled away in their spare bedroom/garage/shed frantically creating things and building a business; I can’t recommend getting out and about with local crafters and makers enough. The creative community on Instagram is ace, but there’s nothing quite like meeting the makers in person and fondling their wares.

Au revoir Mummy!  

In other matters, not satisfied with managing to rein supreme in the sarcasm steaks in our house in English, my 3 year old Aubrey has begun rounding out his comedy routine with French tit bits (which after further investigation he claims to have learnt at nursery - he wasn’t interested when I tried to teach him some French but laps it up from people he barely knows; clearly I should have had a funny song with accompanying gestures prepared if he was going to take me seriously as a French teacher).

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As he seemed in a mood to learn this week I gave the sewing lessons another crack when his little brother Leo was napping. I guess you could say it was a mixed bag overall; he was VERY frustrated that his scissors couldn’t cut any of the fabric I gave him (I hate hearing him say in a sad little hurt voice ‘I just can’t do it mummy') but he was immersed in the machine. He completely surprised me by remembering words I’d taught him a few weeks back. He announced ‘I’ll just pick a bobbin out mummy’ which actually (I realise how silly this sounds) made me feel really proud! He said he wanted to make a green triangle shaped hand puppet (I didn’t question his motives for this bizarre request as he was getting so into it).

He asked to sit on my lap at the sewing machine, helped thread it up and held the fabric under the needle whilst I sewed it together. For the 15 minutes it lasted it was a really lovely experience. We talked about other things we could make together like a big floor mat with roads on for his cars and he got super excited which was really sweet to see. Then just like that Leo woke up, Aubrey trapped his arm in the door (which I had just expressly told him not to mess around with as he would end up getting hurt) and the spell was broken; for now quiet time was over. But I think I can genuinely say that we're both looking forward to the next sewing session.

Emma Cruickshank