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Mindy Sotiri plays at Mamapalooza Festival Sydney

www.SingleMum.com.au Exclusive

Catherine Walsh | 08 May 2012

Stock Photo

Mindy Sotiri is a single mum...
...who is also a singer and songwriter

Mindy Sotiri is a single mum who is also a singer and songwriter. Her songs often reference mothering. We asked her some questions in the lead up to the Mamapalooza Sydney festival, which is a week long celebration of mothers in the creative and performing arts.

As a single mum, what supports do you have in place?

I have a sister who has been like a super-hero in terms of coming to the rescue with kid care stuff, a few really great friends who have done the same - and I have excellent child-care and after-school-care so I can work. Although until recently my kids have stayed with me 100% of the time, for the last year or so their Dad has looked after them (at my place) three times a week in the afternoons and evenings (which means I can get to gigs, or theoretically the gym…but well, HA to that at this point…)

For you, is making music a choice or a need?

I think it is somewhere in between. Obviously it’s not a ‘need’ in the same way as breathing is a need, but it is so much a part of what I do – and has been for such a long time – that it doesn’t quite feel like a choice either.

How does mothering impact on your creative work

I found having babies incredibly inspiring (the intense vulnerability that comes with falling in love your children rocked the crap out of me and made me want to write about EVERYTHING) - but it was also monumentally frustrating in terms of the pragmatics of actually getting creative work done. I walked around for a few years in a state of intense sleep deprived inspiration, with a zillion ideas for songs and about 3 minutes each day of time to myself. Now that life is a little less nutso, the impact has been primarily in the material that I draw on. The kids and the domestic are the backdrop to a big chunk of my life, and that means that breastfeeding, playgroups, and housework have tended to be the backdrop of a fair few of my tunes.

What does it mean to you to connect with other mothers in the creative and performing arts at Mamapalooza?

I love it. I guess I am always interested in learning from other women who are artists and mothers about their practice (ie, HOW do they get stuff done, especially if they’re not Madonna and need to do actual paid work on top of their art/music etc to pay rent).

How do you want parenting to be different for your own children?

I guess on a personal level I’m reasonably relaxed about the job that my ex and I are doing in terms of parenting our kids - but systemically there are many MANY things that I would like to see changed. Just for starters; the ridiculous juggle between work and family, the cost and inaccessibility of child-care and the endemic sexism in the way we raise (clothe, talk about, market to) boys and girls.

Does your creative practice sit alongside any feminist principles or maternal activism?

Yes. I guess I love that feminism has so often been about busting open the private sphere and claiming a space for this in the public arena. And for me this melds beautifully with the folk tradition with which I also identify - writing songs about what you know - even if this is at times involves toddler snot and sore nipples.

Mindy Sotiri will be playing at Mamapalooza Sydney Mums Rock Night at The Supper Club, The Oxford Hotel, 134 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, on Wednesday 9th May, 7.30pm. Hosted by Carolyn Woodorth. Songs inspired by Motherhood with Tina Harrod, Hiske, Zelda Smyth, Kathy Cox, Ruby & Faith, Trish Young (from The Clouds) and Freya. Part of the week long Mamapalooza Sydney Festival, hosted by Tap Gallery.






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What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the

kids

are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.

Centrelink

plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a

divorce

or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

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