I swim through the chaos of your bedroom. I sort, tidy, order, clean, re-arrange, mend, remove and reunite

Lego bits, match attax, top trump cards, matches, badges, marbles, plastic super hero’s, animals, cars, glup, trinkets, a robot dinosaur, magazine’s, books, boxer shorts, bottles of emptied pop, sweetie wrappers, squashed jelly beans, sheets of music, notebooks, schoolbooks, artwork, birthday cards, go-go’s deodorant, spot cream, after shave, hair gel,the king and queen from chess, monopoly money, emptied ink cartridge, dirty mug, guitar,ukulele, roll of a dice, asthma inhaler, jigsaw puzzle piece, doctor who cyber man helmet, nuts, screws, bolts, wooden bricks, knex, family photographs, certificates of appreciation, a cable, a cord, a lead, headphones, cd case, a lizards mask, mexican poncho, light saber, a knights swords and your brother’s lost sandle.

I suck up all the debris your skin, hair and waste all grey and felt like collecting in a ball, spinning in the vacuum.

Waxing my way through a cluttered space to make back your womb-space to wrap your body in clean sheets of love and duvets of comfort.

Chocking on the dust and the delirium of the housework, I escape outside and run to the heathered moorlands wuthering with Heathcliff and holding hands with Sylvia.

Looking out over the valley, I pull in and push out the dust from my mother lungs.

“I have spent twelve hours tidying my twelve year old sons bedroom, an hour of housework for each year of his life. A gift of maternal gestures of love for my son. Gestures to prepare myself for his return home, to make a physical and mental space for him. He was away from home for 19 days, the longest time I have ever spent apart from my son since he was born”


About Helen Sargeant

I am a visual artist, mother of two children aged 12 and 4, and co-founder of the MeWe arts collective. I intend to use this site to explore how my personal experiences as a mother informs my arts practice. To reflect upon the maternal in relationship to memory, loss, and mental health in particu…Read more


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4 Responses to “12 hours tidying my 12 year old sons bedroom”

  1. Frances Earnshaw

    Yes! I have brought on my asthma through being such a slattern about housework! Finally getting some done now. There is something about making a nest for your child… making the bed, a safe place.

    The oddness of the mixture of things, Kay’s room is the same. Still full of toys, and the newer things which point to grown-up-land.

  2. Helen Sargeant

    The oddness of the mixture of things is what struck me too, the children’s things and the growing teenage things, after shave and spot cream, then a light sabre, and how it was all a muddle and jumbled together. Un-jumbling it, taking hold of it, controlling it, the chore had a satisfying end, but was a horrid process.

  3. Eti

    Thinking about this kind of task brings up so many conflicting emotions. On the one hand the pleasure of getting lost in the detail, matching sets of objects together to return them to their original purpose. There’s a real satisfaction in it. On the other hand, once the task is finished, messy teenagers bringing the chaos back with careless lack of awareness can be so infuriating. The order only really truly appreciated by the mother.

  4. Helen Sargeant

    So much of mothering involves circular activities which are constantly interrupted by the needs of children. Getting to the end of the laundry basket is a short lived achievement, as it always is ready to be refilled. Tidying a space to see the enjoyment of the order only disrupted again. There is much pleasure and frustration in these activities. When the children were babies I remember it being a huge achievement just to fulfil one small household task. Staying at a campsite recently I watched a mother caring for her 4 month old baby, I had forgotten about how much intensive care giving is needed at this age. She was completely occupied by the babies needs, feeding, holding, settling down, changing nappies, clothes, clearing up sick, tidying away, sorting and then around in a circle again.


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