This print hangs on a wall in my bathroom. Its of my very own merbaby, Little A, when she was just seven months old.
I love the vivid blue, the light dancing in the swirling bubbles and swell of the water's surface, and the golden gauze ethereally floating around Little A's body. I love Little A's wide eyed expression and the way she looks so comfortable and at ease in the water. She almost looks otherworldly; a mythical creature that exists in storybooks and ancient tales passed down the generations. An underwater cherub caught in a heavenly net. I wonder what her eyes are looking at. A withering ship wreck perhaps? Bobbing seahorses? An unhurried turtle? Or a shoal of angelfish darting and weaving through the warm currents of a teeming reef?
The reality is that this image was taken in the tepid waters of a diving centre pool in Chiswick, West London, by a professional underwater photographer. When Little A was three months old I started taking her to baby swimming classes to the detriment of my finances. Babies are so eye wateringly expensive aren't they? Anyway, she adored splashing and frolicking in the water with the other infants. She never seemed to mind being continually submerged under water by the very amicable teacher whose warm South African lilt reassured the oblivious babies and their jittery mothers. We continued the lessons for a year and I credit them with Little A's confidence in the water now.
I leaped, my bank balance didn't, at the opportunity of having some underwater shots taken when Little A was seven months and a bit. The shoot lasted half an hour. It involved a lot of dunking under water with costumes and props by an athletic fifty something platinum blond who should have known better than having had plastic surgery. Botox does not look fetching in a swimsuit. The gossip goes that this swimming teacher, not the one who taught Little A on a weekly basis, was having a clandestine affair with the burly photographer. Judging by the furtive glances and knowing smiles between the two there was definitely something salacious going on in that diving pool. Or my over zealous imagination was bored and fancied some intrigue to entertain itself with. I wager the latter.
This picture is also a reminder of my birth trauma and depression. After Little A's arrival it took me six weeks to muster the courage to leave my flat. Something was clearly wrong. The emergency cesarean shattered my confidence which lay broken in unforgiving, misshapen shards. The swimming lessons gave me the fortitude to brave the outside world again. They gave me a beacon of normality in the daily grind of breastfeeding, expressing and nappies. I also met some really amiable women. After the lesson we would often lunch and natter together with our bairns at the local hotel. I just hope my nervousness and anxiety at the time wasn't too palpable.
So not only does this print capture a beautiful memory from Little A's babyhood, its also a healing marker of my slow return to emotional health.
I am linking up this post with Midlife Single Mum's very imaginative Art I Heart meme. The idea is that you choose one piece of art you feel drawn to and write a short story about it. Sadly this might be my last entry given the limited amount of art hanging on the walls of my flat.