Mothering in Hindsight: Troubling time(s)
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This article draws on a small-scale study that explored the (re)configuring, (re)turning and (re)working of the experiences of mothering as seen from a position of looking back in hindsight. Temporality is implicated in several ways within this paper, deeply entwined and constantly shifting. Researching past events, experiences and emotions that appear in a location not of the present is problematic, especially when time is conceptualised chronologically. Making sense of past experiences of mothering in the present exposed parenting as not necessarily something that can be detached from the past or as an experience that lies in the past, but rather something where the past is very much present. Here, Barad’s diffractive methodologies, along with the work of Bennett, on new materialism is utilised to explore the temporal nature of mothering. Nine mothers whose children were aged 18–30 were asked “what do you wish you had known then that you know now about being a parent?” Objects kept from when their children were young were initially used to mobilise the temporal and the affective. However, the study itself, the journeys to mothers’ homes, the interviews, the pen, paper, recordings, photos and the files that stand waiting to be reached and the objects mothers brought have become entwined. This is also true for the new entanglements and engagements with post-humanist theory that unearthed themselves to me in the journey to this point in the process. The paradoxical nature of time evident in the narratives women shared, continued to shape early parenting experiences of how mothers perceived themselves through the constant (re)visiting, (re)evaluating and (re)analysing of these experiences is simultaneously reflected in the spacetimemattering of doing this research.
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