I have a secret by Mila Oshin

Listen to the new album “Home” by Drunk for Joy by clicking through the image

I have a secret. Life was hard before lockdown started. I dare say the past three years have been the most difficult of my life. I have known for a while now that the world we live in is in many ways not suited to parents of young children, especially not mothers. Safely navigating our children through baby- and toddlerhood is a challenge for most of us, and few of us are prepared for what it truly takes before we have them. What I did not expect was that, as my children got older, they would turn out to need more rather than less look-aftering.

2017 was quite a year. My father died three months before the birth of our third child and in the autumn, when she was six months old, I was diagnosed with PTSD from my first birth experience seven years earlier. In addition, after years of struggling – terrible 2s turning into terrible 3s, 4s, 5s and so forth – it started dawning on us that something was amiss with our two oldest children. To cut a long story short, we have since learned that they are both on the autistic spectrum. They are the most beautiful, talented and loving creatures, but many aspects of everyday life are a struggle for them, and hence for us too. I adore my family, I thank my lucky stars for all I have, I’m so glad that my loved ones are physically healthy, but it’s been and continues to be a tough ride.

Just before our third child was born in February 2017, we had finished recording, producing and mastering our third music album. Yes, my partner and I live and work together. We were creative partners long before we became involved otherwise. It has been a curse many times, but mostly a blessing. Our album, called HOME, was ready to be released that year under our artist duo name Drunk With Joy. Instead, because of everything that was going on in our actual home, it was not until this year that we finally got around to it. So, just as we were gearing up to finally take our album out of quarantine, the world went into lockdown. Naturally, we were apprehensive at first about putting a new body of work out there during these challenging times. Having all three children at home for the foreseeable future, with their complex and often incompatible needs, it did not seem like the best moment to start tackling the logistics of releasing and self-promoting a new music album. Then again, the fact that our album was called HOME and explored the kind of (not so domestic) experiences that people who have lived together for a long-time go through behind closed doors, seemed too good to be true. Yes, like all our work, HOME is autobiographical. We decided to go for it.

Listen to the new album “Home” by Drunk for Joy by clicking through the image

The fact that, in order to meet our children’s needs, we had already established a strict pattern of alternating working and parenting days, which enables us both to work three days per week (while the other is with the children), was a bonus when lockdown hit, if not an absolute life-saver. It has not done many good things for our financial situation, or our creative time together, let alone our time together as a couple, but throughout we have somehow survived and also managed to keep making new work as a duo, albeit mostly for a few hours here and there in the evenings once/if the children were asleep.

Of course lockdown has been far from easy, in many ways. Still, apart from the fact that we managed to get our new album out and even create some new work this year, there is another way in which this period has surprised us. We have felt calmer and more creative than we have done in a long time. I have to confess that not being able to do as much, leave the house as much and see as many people as usual, has suited me. It has suited my family. Our children have certainly suffered less stress and anxiety since the pressures of 21st century life have temporarily stopped messing with their sensitive and sensible neuro-diverse brains.

Lockdown has reminded me of two things that I first discovered as a new mother all these years ago. The less time I have, the more I do with it. I have since heard so many artists say that they too found that, after an often quite traumatic initial period of surrender and re-adjustment, they have been more productive than ever since they have become parents. Also, for me personally, the restrictions put in place by the government this year have something in common with the restrictions put in place by having a tiny human being to look after. They mark the two times in my life I have allowed myself to do only what was important to me. If there is one thing I have learned from lockdown and would like to change once it is all over, it is that I do not want to be dependent on external factors as an impetus, or excuse, to be myself or look after myself ever again.

About

Mila Oshin is an independent music artist, poet, voice, composer, lecturer, curator and filmmaker. She is one half of artist duo Drunk With Joy and co-founder/director of the Digital Institute for Early Parenthood (DIEP). Her work as an artist, facilitator and lecturer explores and exposes experiences at the core of what it means to be a womb-bearer, especially those hidden, unacknowledged, or silenced.

Find out more about Mila Oshin’s creative practice on her website or IG