Do you know the Instagram account @ab.bel? You should! Definitely! The owner Jade is a half German, half Norwegian mother and illustrator of the most hilarious cartoons. As soon as we found her drawings, we knew that we wanted to know a bit more about the woman who shows exactly how parents are feeling…
You draw beautiful cartoons capturing moments from the everyday lives of parents. When and why did you start?
I started drawing when I was just getting out of the first stressful months of motherhood. I have always liked to draw, and the first cartoons I did was a kind of therapy for me, learning to see the humorous aspect of situations that were quite hard to handle. But laughing about it helps, and I soon realized many other parents could relate to my cartoons. The thought of helping other tired moms and dads through similar situations encouraged me to continue.
Your Instagram account @ab.bel is so successful that you have published a book of your cartoons. What’s next?
The book was so much fun to do, and I really hope I get to do something like that again, however there are no immediate plans. And there is less time to draw now that i am back at work. The hours I get to spend drawing are very valuable to me.
From where do you draw the inspiration for your cartoons?
The inspiration is all around, every day, when living with a toddler and a dog. The hard part is to have the time to process it and transform it into a cartoon. The toddler tantrums are the main thing I am dealing with at the moment. Plates and glasses and cutlery fly through the room if my boy is offered the wrong kind of yoghurt or the wrong colored cup…
Describe a typical day in your family’s life.
Our son wakes up at about 5:45. I’ve tried explaining that it is not morning until 6 am, but he does not agree. We will most likely try to catch a few more minutes of sleep by letting him watch tractor videos in bed with us. At 8am we take him to daycare and then we go to work. I will pick him up as soon as I can after work, as I am constantly feeling bad for leaving him for many hours. Which is totally unnecessary because he loves being in daycare with the other kids… Then we go home, one of the parents will get to go for a walk with the dog while the other makes dinner and entertains the kid. We always talk about making real dinners, and not only child friendly ones, but we mostly end up eating macaroni and hot dogs anyway… Then we play with cars, Lego, read book, draw and paint, throw toys around, argue a bit, run after the dog, watch cartoons and refuse to eat our porridge. When our boy is finally asleep in his fire truck bed we are normally too tired to do anything other than watch half an hour of TV and then go to bed at 21:30.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a mother?
The most difficult thing is to be patient and understanding. And the constant lack of sleep.
What’s the best thing about being a mother?
The best thing is that intense feeling of love, despite every tantrum and every sleepless night. When my boy gives me a warm, long hug, I feel as if the whole world stops for a minute.
How has being a mother changed you?
I hope I have become a more patient and caring person. And I know that I like people in general more than I used to. When I am on the bus for example, I can spot some odd person that I would normally turn away from, but now I am more curious, and I discover little details that makes me picture what this person was like as a child.
What do you wish for the future? And for your children’s future?
A safe, heathy life of course. And I wish for an open society that includes everyone, and welcomes new members.
Do you sometimes miss the time before you had children?
Yes, of course. I miss the freedom and the carelessness and the long mornings in bed, and I miss having time to myself. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Do you sometimes have time for yourself? What do you do then?
Yes, we are finally in a rather stable bedtime period, so we will have time to ourselves after 20:30 at night. I will mostly try to catch up on some TV-series, or I enjoy drawing. A night out with friends or hubby is high on the priority list, but that often requires a baby sitter.
What two lessons have you learned about being a mother which you can pass on to other mothers?
It’s way more intense than I ever knew, so I have learned to sleep/rest when the baby sleeps, and worry less about everything I „should have done“. I am getting better at living in the moment, but I am still learning.
If you’d like to see more of Jade’s brilliant illustrations, you should follow her @ab.bel account on Instagram!
Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, Jade! We wish you and your family all the best, lots of sleep and time to draw us many more cartoons!