Casaundra Beard

The Complex Layers of Motherhood

I have a place for every item in my home, I need it to be organized and clutter free. I thrive when my living spaces are simple, and I have a well thought out daily routine, I need to feel in control of my life. Collapsed in the middle of my living room floor, it feels as if I’m living out a scene from a movie where a bomb just exploded. Everything is fuzzy, all I can hear is the sound of my heart racing. A slight ringing starts to overpower my senses as it’s getting louder in my head until I’m thrown back into reality.

My kids screaming as they run around causing the dogs to bark as they play alongside them. There’s the crash of another toy basket being strung out across the house. I hear yet another email notification on my phone, constantly reminding me that work is piling up and waiting for me tonight once the kids are in bed. I feel like an addict who is itching for a fix because I haven’t been to my studio to release my anxiety and pour it into creating.

“Can I have another snack?” “Can we watch TV, can we go outside, I’m bored!” I can’t count how many times I’ve heard these phrases today. My house is a disaster, I feel behind on work, not to mention my own homework for class I need to get done, and the overwhelming guilt I feel about being stressed out by my own children is becoming too much to handle until finally, I break. The ringing in my head stops but I realize I’m screaming at my children. I stop and walk away as I try to compose myself, what just happened is the question all three of us are trying to answer. I realize it happened again, another anxiety attack. The floodgate of tears starts flowing down my face as my soul sinks to the floor. What kind of mother am I? Who lets this stress them out that much? I cling to my daughter and wipe her tears and mine away.

“I love you; I’m sorry, mommy shouldn’t have yelled like that. Deep breath in like you’re drinking through a straw and blow it out with a big breath.“

I do my best to explain that mommies make mistakes too and I will do better.

My artistic practice has always been autobiographical, helping me to make sense of my life. is body of work speaks about my unfiltered and authentic experience with anxiety and how it sometimes coincides with motherhood. By addressing the harsh stigmas society has towards mothers I hope to normalize the reality, rather than continuing the cycle of these idealized notions of what motherhood is supposed to be. “One-size-fits all” mentality does not work when it comes to raising children. I want to speak about the unspoken side of motherhood and help to normalize that, “Good moms” come in all forms.

My parents had me at a young age. I knew my mother suffered from mental health issues. Growing up, there was so much that was out of my control. Now, I hold a tight grip on all aspects of my life that I can control. This body of work visually expresses the life cycle of an anxiety attack. One stressful moment on its own doesn’t break me down. It is several single, seemingly insignificant moments together, piling on top of one another that leads to my breaking point. Motherhood is messy and exhausting; unlike anything else, it is a job that is never ending. Each piece could stand alone in understanding my struggle, but all together you really start to grasp how moments start to manifest together resulting in an attack. The titles of each piece are the positive mantras I repeat endlessly to convince myself that I am doing a good job raising my children. Because motherhood is the only job where you don’t clock out, it can become overwhelming at times. However, I believe it is a conversation that needs to be had.

My sketchbook has always been more of a diary, with a few strung-out rushed sketches thrown in between entries. Through my entries I came to the realization that I have dealt with anxiety most of my life. Now, my artistic practice provides me with an outlet and is a form of catharsis. My thesis work is about one of my lowest and most shameful moments as a parent. However, it was in this moment when my artistic practice started in a new direction and ultimately led to this series, The Good, the Bad, and the Unspoken: Complex Layers of Motherhood.

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