In honour of International Women’s Day this week, we’re showcasing just some of our favourite mummies. Meet music-making mummy Ginette Chittick. She may embrace parenthood, but she is not saying goodbye to her creative life, either.
INTERVIEW LOW LAI CHOW
Multitasking maverick Ginette Chittick, whose footprints can be seen all over Singapore’s creative scene across music, fashion, art and design, is many things at once: musician, DJ, fashion designer, and even programme leader for LASALLE College of the Art’s Diploma in Fashion.
But as the frontwoman of indie rock band, Astreal declares wistfully to Motherhood, “I’m still a punk rocker at heart, wrapping my arms around the world.”
For the past two and a half years or so, Ginette has also been wrapping her arms very much around her cute two-year-old daughter, Luella, whom her mama affectionately describes as “a ball of furious energy” for her easily excitable personality and happy, outspoken demeanour — not unlike Ginette herself.
From the “really surreal” times as a new mum at the time when Luella first arrived in this world to settling in just a little bit more, Ginette is amazed at the journey that has transpassed so far: “I still cannot get over the fact that I have a toddler who is so sentient, so smart and funny as well.”
More Than Just Mama
Prior to parenthood, Ginette says she envisioned sleep training Luella as a baby while continuing to have uninterrupted couple time with her husband Shawn — or to be exact, “watching TV movies in the living room as we monitor her on the baby monitor”.
That never happened, she adds with a laugh. Luella, in fact, has taken to snuggling with them on the same family bed. “We start the night out with her in the cot in our room, then she comes into our bed in the middle of the night, usually at 12ish pm.”
“But it’s okay. It’s lovely to wake up with her!
Her daughter, she says, has made a better designer out of her
(“Design is about empathy — she has definitely re-energised me”),
as well as focused her creative energies, so she never gets overly
caught up in her new role as a mother.
“I have always wanted to hold on to my identity that I had before I became a mother, so I was determined to do what I had been doing and maybe even more. I don’t want to be defined by my role as a mother but be affected positively by my role as a mother.”
“I want to be an example to Luella.”
Carving out a postpartum creative life wasn’t always so easily done. Returning to work after maternity leave, Ginette admits to getting a double whammy of ‘mummy brain’ (“My brain was mush. Sometimes I wasn’t even speaking in a linear fashion!”) and marinating in newfound isolation.
“I was itching to just go out and even just have tea with my friends, baby in tow,” she says, recalling the times after delivery. “I just needed to connect with other people on a level that wasn’t all about the baby. It was baby, day in and day out, and many times, at night! My mind was all about her (Luella) — everything I read, thought about, spoke about. It was no wonder that I had to work harder to get back to the state of efficiency I operated on before I left work.”
And so, the industrious workhorse found herself getting back into the musical swing of things just three months after giving birth.
“I was recording my third album when Luella was barely a few months old, in my home. My bandmates accommodated me and brought the equipment to my place.”
Mother in More Ways Than One
Of course, prior to motherhood, Ginette was already a mother of sorts, guiding young talents with a passion for fashion in her capacity as lecturer and programme leader for LASALLE College of the Art’s Diploma in Fashion.
“I am always and immensely proud of my ex-students who have gone on to take up various positions of note in the fashion industry,” she says. “From editors in magazines to fashion writers, photographers and art directors, I am a proud mama indeed.”
She is thankful for the support from the people in her life who rally around her and accommodate her needs, so she can continue to do what she does:
“I couldn’t do all the different things that I do — my DJing, my weaving (writer’s note: Ginette started weaving a couple of years ago and now has a knack for making edgy tapestries out of yarn), my work, my band — without an army of women and my husband behind me,” she says, adding that her bosses at work have also been extremely supportive.
“The Dean and the Head of Fashion are very open to the various stuff I do and encourage me. So I must remember to pay it forward when my time comes.”
Fueled by Life
“So many things inspire me,” she divulges. “I love looking at what’s beautiful all around me: trees swaying in the wind, my daughter’s hair, my husband’s smile, a modern dance piece, typography, indie or nu-disco music. And also, kindness inspires me. We all have to work hard at being kind, and that’s what’s been inspiring me lately, to remember to be kind.”
Just like how her daughter has inherited her happy genes and outspoken vocal cords, Ginette says she has also become more like her daughter in that she sees the world in a “more childlike way”.
“I have to make the world exciting for her and she shows me what fascinates her and that
is amazing to me. I’ve learnt to stop and see the world through her bright eyes and inquisitive mind.
I’ve learnt to be more patient (still need more work on that) and though I’ve always been an empathetic
person, I’ve widened my ability to empathise, especially with mothers and children.”
There’s just one thing though: Luella isn’t impressed by her mum’s musical wizardry or share her taste for music.
“Haha, her music taste is nothing like mine... yet. Now she still likes really cute toddler songs and didn’t really care for my music when I played her my album,” says Ginette in jest. “But she will, oh, she will...”