AcrylicSelf Portrait With A Tired Toddler, 2020

This self-portrait with my daughter Hannah represents a tension that most parents of young children will understand. Toddlers, or at least Hannah, can go through phases of waking a bit too early in the morning, refusing to go back to sleep, and ending up slightly irritable by the middle of the day. Our afternoons become punctuated with the odd tired and tearful cuddle, such as the one depicted. The tension I refer to is that at these times sleep – our lack of it and the pursuit of more, comes to dominate our thoughts and dictate our short term goals. However, somewhere beyond these initial feelings is the recognition of how special it is to still be able to hold your child in your arms, and comfort her in her vulnerability. So we find ourselves asking ‘when will this stage be over’ in the hope that better sleep is just around the corner, but also in the hope that these days don’t pass, and our children don’t grow too big, too quickly. When will this stage be over, and what will the next stage bring?