Documenting Determination

Part of what I am doing on this blog is a project called 'Documenting Delight', for which I take a daily picture of the children to record their pleasures, or more often than not, my delight in them. Yesterday I realised that I had undertaken a similar project years ago when I decided to record what Ruskin did every day for one year. I started on the first of January 1999 after finally leaving my marriage the previous November. I was determined that the book would record lots of fun, that it would only be about the happiness I could give my son, and never about the desperation I felt about no longer seeing him every day. I realise now that I was holding myself to account, documenting delight to ensure he felt it, reminding myself that despite everything, this child, the light of my life, burned bright. I still have the book I made. In it there are pictures of Ruskin with huge 'canvasses' of flattened packing boxes filled with left over paint from decorating. There are many pictures of picnics by the stream outside our house and his diligent 'fixing' of a nearby wall with toy tools. There are pictures of him making fires and climbing trees with the three home schooled children that lived in another part of the converted barn that was our home. The project was a success in that it was a daily reminder to focus on joy and a record that, despite feeling that I was little more than ashes, I had achieved something big: I had kept my beloved child laughing.

Nearly a decade later I found Ville, and both having a child from a previous marriage, we understood that the only way our relationship would work was by committing to each others children completely. This has required equal efforts from both of us, and one of mine has been the move to Istanbul. A few months ago I realised that the cultural differences around raising children were making me a less light-hearted and spontaneous parent and I needed a new project. I found just the role model I needed in a photographer called Georgia, who has inspired lots of women to document delight. So this time, thanks to the internet, I am doing it with a group of women from all over the world, each with their own reasons for daily documentation of the joy children bring, whatever our circumstances.

At first I thought this project would simply be about Anton and Neve, the two children Ville and I have together. One of my concerns about this blog is that, as Matti's step-mother, its hard to gauge how appropriate it is to talk publicly about my relationship with him, though I would dearly love to. One of my hopes for this blog is that all the children, at some point far in the future, will find it a pleasure to read our thoughts and see our pictures. So what if there was less for Matti to find, despite being such an integral part of it all? So from now on I will document the delight of whatever children are with us that day. And I am delighted that we are only days away from Ruskin being back in the pictures too.....

Anton eating Moomin buscuits in Finland.

Matti and Neve in Finland.

Matti, Anton and Neve in the garden.

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2 thoughts on “Documenting Determination

  1. Wow, what a powerful story. I am so inspired by your words. Sometimes I get disheartened trying to find gratitude in the easiest of circumstances, yet you rose above all the heartache in your own life to give to your little one (who is now a big one I'm guessing ;) ) all the love and laughter he needed. You are an amazing woman. Thank you so much for sharing, and I'm sure ALL your children will greatly appreciate this project, but most importantly, I'm sure they already greatly appreciate you!

  2. Oh Julia, I can only imagine how much emotion you are putting into these words. Good on you for working out a way to make your documenting work for all of your kids. And I have to say that Neve has the most amazing eyes....lucky girl :)


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