Messy, tender, disarming: lockdown with young kids — in photographs

16 June 2020

For Polish photographer Karolina Ćwik, lockdown has meant spending two months in her Wrocław apartment with her husband and two young kids. It prompted a new series — Let’s Build This Virus — inspired by her children’s own quest to build the coronavirus from Lego blocks.

“Paradoxically, for me, isolation was cleansing,” Ćwik told The Calvert Journal. “I wanted to talk about what was happening in my house at that time. So I started taking pictures to remember it all. There were complicated emotions, important conversations, quarrels, and crying but also great, disarming love, tenderness, and mutual care.”

The series encompasses photos that capture the playful, messy, and nonetheless gentle side of life with a young family. Ćwik portrays motherhood with a fresh eye, involving her kids in the process, with amusing and unexpected results. Not everything, however, was easy.

“Sometimes [lockdown] was very difficult,” Ćwik explained. “My husband and I shouted at each other, wept, then apologised and took care of ourselves. But we also tried to cultivate good emotions and have fun with the kids. I told myself and my children every day: don’t be afraid!”

“It helped me that I had long ago accepted the fact that I am not a perfect mother and stopped pursuing this ideal,” Ćwik added. “During the pandemic, sometimes the house was dirty and messy, there were days when the children watched cartoons for hours, and dinners consisted only of sandwiches. But by accepting the situation and myself, what helped me not go crazy was the feeling of security, that nothing bad would happen to my children.”

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