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In a special photo essay, Cindy Blazevic reflects on the pitfalls and rewards of 24/7 parenting

We are living in some unprecedented (domestic) times, we moms. Suddenly, our lives are at once achingly slow-paced and unfathomably intense. They play out between the few walls of our homes and, if we’re lucky, a backyard. Because my kids are quite young (or perhaps because times are strange and, instinctively, no one wants to be left alone), no one is wandering off to do their own thing. We move from room to room together like a herd of hyenas. Now we’re all in the kitchen, now in the living room, and now all five of us seem to need to be in this teeny, tiny bathroom together at once …

We are now all jugglers and masters of half-measures – the homeschooling, the baking, that pirate map we started, the abandoned homemade popsicles that taste like frozen water. Writing a single e-mail remains a massive logistical operation.

Sometimes it feels like two years’ worth of skinned knees, story-reading, tantrums, meals, fort-making, bum-wiping, toy tug-of-warring, snacks (always snacks!), stuffy explosions and spilt milk have been condensed into these past few weeks of lockdown. Some days my voice box hurts from sheer use. Some days there is no time to think about the virus or the distant memory of working, because I’m engaged in the latest episode of Extreme Momming, ultra-marathon style, with a smattering of Survivor. “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” is the dub beat soundtrack of these episodes. “Stunt lockdown” is my warrior cry (because who wants to visit a hospital these days?). The Nerf archery set and lightsaber now live in the trunk of the car.

Like the house staff of Downton Abbey, I bow in and out of rooms, tending to the many and unrelenting needs of my tiny overlords, a stowaway Frozen jingle in my head. They repay me in heart-melting hugs and an abundance of daily hilarity. Eight weeks in, seven-year-old Sebastien and three-year-old twins Senna and Odessa have fallen into natural step with one another, which is any mom’s dream, as we lean into our new lockdown lives. All things considered, they are my delightful escapism from the anxiety of the world right now.

Unprompted, the other day, one of the three-year-olds actually sighed, “I miss the dentist.” As I said, unprecedented.

My Covid Captors

My children are forever building wonderful, precarious forts with impossibly tiny entrances into which they want me to squeeze with them. Here, Sebastien led the charge in building a giant bird’s nest – with a generous interior.

Lady Mom Leading the Children (in today’s attempt at online yoga)

When the children see me doing yoga what they actually see is a human jungle gym. This has led me to practice furtively – by moonlight. For the image, I found inspiration in Delacroix’s Lady Liberty Leading the People. Incidentally, Senna is sporting the boxing gloves worn by Canadian heavyweight champion George Chuvalo in his last match in 1978. Senna was careful.

A New Take on Self Care. (As in, take whatever moments you can get)

I find self-care such an impossibility at the moment that I’ve christened “alone-ish time with phone” as a self-care activity. This is a re-enactment of when the children have finished decorating me with stuffies and have wandered away for a few minutes.

A Self-Portrait of Self-Isolation, the Mom edition.

Yes, this photo is about how all the children always want to be in my arms, and about all the things that happen in a day—ballerina-ing in bathing suits, paint, baths because of paint, mops!— but, mostly, it’s about the invisible labour of motherhood.

Radical Acceptance of Spilt Milk

Not a day goes by without someone spilling milk. I know I’m not supposed to cry over spilt milk. I don’t cry. I have irrational meltdowns over it. This image depicts my parallel existence in which I’ve accepted my fate.

Cindy Blažević is a visual artist who uses photography, installation and socially-engaged practices to investigate identity and belonging. Her work has been exhibited in Canada and internationally. The Canada Council for the Arts, the British Arts Council, European Cultural Fund and Open Society Institute are among the organizations that have supported her projects. She lives in Toronto with her three kids and her partner, Pascal Paquette. Her work can be seen at cindyblazevic.com