17 Nov Patience Hodgson, The Grates
Patience Hodgson, Australian musician and singer of The Grates, has just taken on her most important gig to date: becoming a mum to her daughter, Soda. She chats to us about what surprised her most about becoming a mother, de-cluttering, her go-to reads and the experiences and life knowledge she hopes to pass on to her daughter, Soda.
Parenthood has absolutely changed me. You leave the hospital with a baby that lives or dies depending on how you care for it. It’s a 24 hour job. No other job in your life has ever been for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for years on end. If those two realities don’t change you…well that’s an even scarier route I think.
I hardly remember what a normal day for me was before I had Soda. I would wake up, go on my phone, and then potter around doing errands etc. on my days off and do work on my work days. Looking back, they just seem so strange to me now, remembering how ‘solo’ I was, and how empty our home was.
Being a mum is harder, easier and quite different to what I imagined. It’s easy because you can’t comprehend how much you will love your child, how sacrifices come easily and how that love gets you through sleepless nights and wakeful days, or how the routine of feeding and settling is a really good antidote to the hectic nature of our modern living.
Once you surrender, give over the control, work with your baby and understand you’re a team, there’s times where you’re stoked at how incredible your new lifestyle is.
But then, it’s harder than you could ever imagine. The time before you surrender, before you give in and stop trying to live like you did before you were a parent, that’s a really tough spot. You feel out of control, because you are, and you feel isolated, because you might be; there are no tribal sisters with babes in arms to sing with us in our suburban castles! I had a whole shelf of books to read once my baby was born and a Game Of Thrones season up my sleeve, because I was going to have so much time once Soda was out of me…ha ha!
What has surprised me most about becoming a mum is how much I miss Soda when she’s finally sleeping soundly in her own bed. I thought I might enjoy being able to stretch out, unencumbered, in my own bed, next to John…but I don’t! I’m surprised at how often I’ll lie awake, wanting her to cry out so I can bring her in with us, knowing it’ll mean sore shoulders in the morning.
What I wish I’d known before I was pregnant is do everything and anything that needs doing right now! Namely, getting rid of things. Purge like you have never purged before! Kids accumulate crap, fact. Reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising will help. Reading Your Money: The Missing Manual by J.D. Roth is also excellent, The Passion Trap by Dean C Delis and my number one pre-baby read; Baby on Board by Dr Howard Chilton. Oh, and do not get a pet as a ‘trial kid’, they drive you insane once you have your ‘real kid’.
The best parenting advice I’ve been given is it’s temporary. He or she will have to go to sleep eventually. Just surrender to the moment. Breastfed babies with a good latch don’t need to be burped. I never burped Soda and she never had ‘wind’ or any other type of problems.
Experiences and life knowledge I hope to pass on to Soda are to take calculated risks. Usually, the harder you work, the more rewarding it is. Nothing worth having comes easy, except for when it comes to relationships – if they are hard, leave. Reading is really good for you, especially if she’s like me and has trouble meditating. Hard work beats talent, but also, have fun! All work and no play makes you boring. Everything in moderation, including moderation.
We started our band, The Grates, back in the early 2000s and it took off after having our songs played on Triple J, I think in 2004. Then everything became about ‘The Band’ for around six years. In 2012, John and I opened our cafe Southside Tea Room, for loads of reasons, including our love of small American bars. We also knew we needed another source of income. Then, this year, we expanded the shop next door with Death Valley, a bar, and Red Robin Supper Truck out the back in the beer garden. This all happened around the time I gave birth, so John wasn’t home very much. At the time, I had moments of crankiness over his absence, but upon reflection, it was great. No one to second guess me, I just got around the house shirtless, which is excellent for sore nipples, and no Netflix compromises.
Wanting to make the best How to Make a Pom Pom video to ever be on the net is what inspired Rachel Burke and I to start our craft YouTube Channel, Fancy Free – that was it. I really want to do some more, but life gets in the way sometimes…we’ll get back there shortly though. Plus, I love Rachel and will invent any silly project to spend more time with her.
As a child, there was always lots of drawing in my house – my mother has an artistic mind. I really want to paint our house in flowers like the folk of Polish town Zalipie. I fantasise about doing that with Soda all the time, that, and gluing Shopkins on shoes! Ha!
What drives my creative endeavours and creativity is the desire to feel different.
Working on something creative is my mood-altering substance. It feels amazing when you nail it and horrible when you fail, but failure only serves to make the success taste even sweeter. We live these amazing lives with washing machines and supermarkets, so I want to do something fun in my spare time, the kind of things that my great, great grandmother with 10 kids (and an abusive husband) could only fantasise about.
I include anyone who’s special to me in my creative endeavours. I love working even more when it’s with people I love.
Working relationships are my favourite type of friendships, because there’s a common goal and you get to talk about inspiring stuff other than gossip. Even though I’m all ears if you have gossip, because HOLY CRAP GOSSIP!
What do you have in place in your current life that allows you to be a mum and also be a creative?
To be honest, there’s been very little creativity happening at the moment. I’m breastfeeding and super slack at expressing milk, so I’ve never really gone anywhere without Soda, except for when we play gigs, but by then she’s usually asleep. So far, she hasn’t woken up in the two hours I’ve been gone for. I believe you can do everything, just not at the same time. I also feel like I had a baby to have a life changing experience.
I think in 20 years, if it was still just me and John, we would be weary of each other, without the wildcard drama children bring. I expect I’ll get a bit more help from my mum/mother in law once Soda is over one and breastfeeding is no longer her main source of nutrition. Saying that, I did manage to rehearse, make a backdrop and bedazzle a coat for The Grates last tour, which I diligently worked on at night between 7.30 and 9.30 while Soda was snoozing. Take out dinner really helped free up time too.
We’re all about celebrating Australian motherhood. What does it mean to you to be an Australian creative, who’s also a mother?
It means dirty floors and stale clothes, used cars and take away dinners, smiling as you gaze upon a finished craft and smiling as you gaze on your bub who has just learnt to clap. It means being determined and keeping your head high, even while things may be falling apart around you. Because once they’re grown, you’ll be strumming all alone in your spare room wishing for someone small to entertain you. It means that sometimes done is better than good, but you don’t stop striving for great, because that’s where fist-clenching satisfaction lives.
Be kind to yourself, go slowly, don’t compare yourself with others and remember that they grow up fast, so enjoy the moment.
Patience Hodgson is the front woman of Aussie band, The Grates. She lives in Brisbane with her partner, John, and daughter, Soda, 9 months. A lady of many talents, she enjoys crafting in her spare time and bedazzling anything in sight. She is also co-owner of the South Side Tea Room with John. You can find out about The Grates latest tour via their website and Facebook and keep up to date with Patience’s adventures on her Instagram and crafty times on YouTube.
All photographs were taken at Splendour in the Grass, 2015. Thanks to Patience, The Grates and her family for sharing these beautiful and intimate behind-the-scenes photographs with us.
Images by Kristina Childs Photography