I was recently talking to some old friends that I hadn't met since me and my family moved from Sweden to UK nearly two years ago. During this time I have carried our now 13-month-old twins full-term, given birth to them via a painful cesarean section, looked after our eldest four-year-old daughter alongside two babies and tried to keep everyone happy while never getting a whole night's sleep. In addition, I have been bound to my neighbourhood surroundings; I don't drive and I wouldn't fit in to the bus with the twin buggy and buggy board - a combination that people, more or less accurately, refer to as a minivan.
I was telling my friends how hard life was in the grey suburbs of London with endless rows of shabby houses and only a few trees, and how difficult it has been for us to adjust, being used to the lush green nature and fresh air of Sweden. In this moment one of my friends commented, with some amusement in his voice, that at least I had my scrapbooking.
Yes, at least I have my scrapbooking! My days are filled with routines involving my children and their wellbeing. It's a five to nine job without any major breaks. I take huge pride in what I do for my children, but without realising it I have slowly given up my social life and my freedom. There really isn't much one can do after the kids have gone to sleep, and although my husband contributes a lot to childcare and housework, I'm always too tired in the evenings. All this has led me to question who I am. Am I just a mother, an all-in-one diaper changing-washing-cooking-soothing-smoothing-mother-machine, alone in a foreign country? Or am I still me and if so, who exactly am I?
Everybody with children knows that part of being a parent is giving up on your own time and making way for a new identity. It's about thinking what's best for the children and doing your utmost for their growth and happiness in life. All parents know that in this lifechanging process it's easy to forget about yourself, but I think it's extremely important to find a balance between being a parent and being you, and giving yourself time without children.
In the midst of all these domestic demands, I can honestly say that scrapbooking has saved my life. It might sound strange but when I finally get some time for myself, after being up and running for 15 hours, being by myself and being creative means everything to me. Scrapbooking is my therapy. I love the evenings when I get to sit by myself and indulge in the pretty materials. It's a creative process, a complete opposite to my daily routines. It's my way of developing my identity and holding on to it. Going back to the moments captured on the photos helps me reflect on life and decide what memories I want to preserve for the future. To create something with photos of me and my family also makes me realise how great life is, despite the sleepless nights and the heavy workload. Ultimately, scrapbooking has made me realise that yes, I am a mum of three but I'm still me and a huge part of me is to use my hands creatively. I found myself in arts and crafts and being creative and expressing myself has helped me in finding my identity. And in the end, exploring and developing my identity has made me both happier and healthier.
If you are interested in scrapbooking, have any questions or want to see what else I've made, you are more than welcome to visit my blog: http://reijapysslar.blogspot.com/