Project: Domesticity and Care
Domesticity and Care
As I begin to write kin and ethics no one writes to me. It’s a day or so into 2022 and the Omicron variant blazes across the globe and the containers that I so wanted to hold – physical distancing, vaccinations, testing kits – seem to be more porous than ever.
Maybe you already know that working minimally feels feasible when there is work, when you have, or can return to, a paid job, when you are fairly confident that, frightening though the thought might be, if you lost your paid job you could find another.
The Keys to the House: John Conomos’ The Girl From the Sea
The work of homemaking in which the filmmaker is engaged is thus not only about the creation of a continuity between past and present. It is also about the future – how we remember the person that we will become.
The day Jack was born, the hospital had begun to disallow visitors to the maternity wards and, in the following week, all face-to-face postnatal health visits and healthcare checks would be cancelled or transferred to online consultations. Covid-19 had been seeding in the UK for weeks already, and by mid-March, the models suggested that infections were doubling every two to four days. Contact tracing and community testing had been abandoned the week that Jack was born because of ‘widespread community transmission.’ Tens of thousands of people were being infected every single day.
Show Me Love
One of my main self-appointed tasks was tidying Mum’s room, a perpetual mess filled with sewing material and teaching resources and our school newsletters from kindergarten. I told myself I wanted her to be able to use the room now that she finally had time. I oscillated between my own rubric for what to keep and what to throw out and what I supposed Mum’s rubric to be. Sometimes Mum would stand watching me, rescuing the papers I put in a recycling pile. Turns out I wasn’t practising care or spending time with Mum; I was further wresting control away from her. Eventually I shut the door and left the room only slightly less messy than before.
A month into my summer job, I said to my mother with unusual vehemence that I never wanted to end up in a rest home. By then, I knew some of the residents better and alongside the mandated ministrations of care – the quickly learned techniques of the sponge-bath, the assertive double-fold of a hospital corner when making the beds and the fitting of a prosthetic half-leg – I had come to care for them in my own fashion.