Nino Trentinella, 44. Tbilisi.
When I was about 8 months old, my parents discovered that I had a congenital condition, so actually, I couldn’t walk. From that point until I was seven, I had many surgeries, and there were many unsuccessful ones. I ended up in Siberia at an experimental clinic. The doctor there was a genius. He developed a technic that wasn’t used by a wider public and he helped me. So now I can walk and run, and do everything.
When I had one of the appointments they showed me my X-ray, in one X-ray there was no bone in the middle, and in another X-ray, the bone was there. So, basically, he grew the bone where there was nothing. Just seeing those images the idea of “anything is possible” was very much ingrained in me. It was a transformational moment to see the concrete visual of nothing filled with something. I’m a visual person and after seeing this, the idea that you can do anything that you put your mind to and that anything is possible was instilled in me.
I was 13 when my parents moved from Georgia to the US, and it was not an easy transition. I did my schooling and university studies in the States. Then I moved to Europe when I got married and ever since then I’ve been traveling with my husband and with my daughter once she was born. I gave birth in Australia, and we lived there for four years. I lived in a few countries and now we’re here in Georgia, expecting our second child.
We love traveling and I think this is one of the best things you can offer to your children as well, especially, before they are teenagers. We still do slow traveling. We did world schooling for a few years, then she asked to be in an actual school. That’s why we were staying a little longer in different countries.
We would choose to live in various cultures with a lot of intention. Learning about new places, how people live there… You pick all of these things, and your children do, too.
Motherhood for sure was transformational. It almost erases the personality and you have to start from scratch. You’re focused on your child 100% and you kind of neglect your own needs, if you don’t have support, which I didn’t. Because we were traveling, every time we had to restart the community and find a new support network, which took a lot of time. You’re spending all your time taking care of your child and you have less time left for your own needs. That was quite challenging. Trying not to lose personality and do things for yourself too. Not having a village to support you made it a bit harder.
Last year in London was the most difficult. We moved within London and lost the community we had in another neighborhood. All the support disappeared for a year. This is why we decided to come here for the second baby.
Usually, when we move somewhere, we make a list of pros and cons. Australia offers the highest quality of life that we’ve experienced. We compare other places to Australia but actually, nothing really compares to the quality of life that is there. But the sun was too extreme, and it was impossible to be outdoors during the day. We were far away from family and traveling was not that easy as well. Apart from that, it was just great there.
The community in the small city where we lived was very present and conscious. Natural parenting was present too. I pretty much learned everything from them and even now, when I have medical questions, that is the community that I connect with. Somehow, even though it’s online, I still get the best support from them.
I’m quite aware of myself and my thought processes, and I control them quite well if I need to. It has always been that way. I think it comes from being neurodivergent and my brain being wired differently (laughs).
I don’t feel I ever fit anywhere but I always find a way to fit in. I can find people to connect with in any culture. Maybe that comes from my childhood again, being so resilient. The adaptability to change was instilled in me from early on, I don’t know if it came from hospital experiences or it’s just a personality. I can adapt very easily to any situation. I have a very diverse group of acquaintances and friends. I get along with most people and can find something in common with almost everyone.
As a child, I’ve always been independent. I always saw myself as an adult from the age of two. In my head, I was an adult. In my head, it’s always been like that. I still did kid things but the thought processes in my head were different and I was aware of that.
I think I’m more rebellious, I like to challenge the status quo. There are moments when I feel like I need to conform to certain things as part of society, but if I feel something isn’t right, I will not do that regardless of what others say. It could be more challenging for other people if they want to convince me otherwise. I usually do a lot of research on a topic so when I speak I know what I’m talking about, then I don’t get affected by anything else around.
I’m an artist, so I just do creative things. I don’t necessarily work with one medium, creativity can be writing, drawing, painting, photography, AI this year, etc. I always try to keep a creative lifestyle. It’s a bit challenging when you have kids. When my daughter was small, sometimes I would just watch her being creative, or I would do things alongside her, just to keep a kind of creative output. I try to integrate it into daily things. It could be cooking, too. I did a lot more photography which was easier in the circumstances when you get interrupted every two seconds by a small kid. Even if I couldn’t edit it necessarily, I would still keep taking pictures. It helps on so many different levels, with mental health and emotions.
Before I gave birth to my daughter, I would travel by myself. I could just open the door and leave the house whenever I felt like this. After becoming a mother, you can’t actually do that. Someone else is there, you have to get her ready, and she might not want to, then you need to negotiate, there’s another person there. So, motherhood affected a sense of independence.
Another big shift was not being able to do art whenever I wanted to, as much as I wanted to. Also, before she was born, I thought I was healthy but then I realized, I wasn’t. My diet changed, and I feel way healthier and better now. I am way more ready for pregnancy than I was back then.
Before, no one is depending on you, so you are just doing your own thing at your own rhythm, and then you’re not anymore. Career-wise, I didn’t work for almost 6 years, however, being a teacher, I easily got back to work. I wanted to be with her as much as possible, especially, between three to five years of age. Those are the most formative, most important years. I had little commissions, and part-time projects here and there. But my intention was not to go back full-time, because then someone else is raising your child, that didn’t make any sense at all.
My husband and I assisted Dr. Gabor Mate’s online workshop a few years ago and my husband went to meet him for a lecture this year in London. He proves that three to five years of child development is very important. We read his books and we were very conscious of choosing to be with our daughter all these years. When she was two, that’s when my husband’s contract in Australia ended and we moved here, a family gap year ended up being a year and a half. We didn’t work, we had enough money to live, so until she was three and a half she had both of us. It wasn’t an easy decision but we knew it was very important for her development to have our presence. Finally, when she started to ask to go to school and went to school that she liked, that’s when I went back to work.
I work in education (Nino holds multiple awards and her projects as a teacher and an artist are widely recognized. Recently, she received a Gold Prize in the Digital Innovator Teacher of The Year category from The Pearson National Teaching Awards in the UK) and if we speak about my concerns in this area, it’s a level of conformity there in schools, which is translated to the wider society. It affects not just the subjects that the students are learning, but also it affects their personalities. And when they leave, that’s when they conform and that’s when you have this mainstream thought about everything. It could be a mainstream thought about childbirth. Children go for this brainwashing for 12-13 years, and that’s my main kind of concern.
Education works and it probably serves a bigger agenda on a government level, people follow the rules and conform. Otherwise, everyone would have independent opinions, which is probably not good when you have a big society. You want to instill laws and certain things and you want people to follow this and that. So, there are lots of alternative schools out there, with lots of different models, but even within that you still have some kind of system and some kind of conformity. It depends on what kind of value you want to instill in children but more mainstream schools are going to instill more mainstream opinions. It’s just the way it’s set up. So, I would like to see change, but I don’t know how, because again, I think the values within the system need to change and then you can do it from within. As a teacher working in a school, that has been a challenge the last few years. I see it and I’m contributing to it and I’m part of it. I know I can’t change it. As a young teacher, you say, you can change everything but no, you can change things to a certain degree but you can’t really change the system from within, no matter what you do. Unless everyone does it, with a greater consciousness and greater desire to change the values, it’s gonna continue this way.
I like creating things and seeing something out of nothing. You have an idea and you manifest it. I think it’s again linked to my childhood. Artwork or any idea and you actually make it and it comes into a physical realm, it’s quite exciting to me.
CHALLENGES OF MOTHERS
The main challenge for mothers is having a community of like-minded people. It’s good to have remote support groups as well but having the support network present, people actually holding your baby, when you need to run out for something, and helping with different things. In modern societies, I think, this is the biggest challenge. That is linked also to information sharing about parenting and related things, that you wouldn’t get if you lived in isolation.
People live by themselves, some people might have grandparents but it doesn’t mean they are present or helpful.
Traveling made that even more challenging because you have to restart and meet people again and it takes months to find like-minded people. It affects you more in terms of your time, and your well-being, you have less time for yourself because you have less support. A lot of it has to do with time. You can’t be with your child 24/7, because that is really draining. When the village is not there for you, you have to compromise more.
I think there needs to be support for breastfeeding for sure. Some places do it better than others. Australia was great for this but in Georgia, breastfeeding support is non-existent. I gave birth in a hospital in Australia but I had midwives and lactation consultants coming to our house for three months after I gave birth, checking if everything was ok and they were helping constantly. It was all set up within the system. Education about pregnancy and breastfeeding needs to be provided before and after labor both for mothers and fathers. For fathers as well, because this change challenges them as well. Having men’s groups where fathers could meet would be of great support. If you instill that type of support in hospitals and even on a government level, people will meet naturally and communities and support networks will be formed out of that.
Most people are guided by fear and that fear could be either judgmental towards other people or just to guide their life in a way that it affects their decision making. That translates into policy as well. The medical system is all fear-based. So it would be nice if people were more conscious and did a bit of research by themselves, to be less fearful, and to take on the chances as well. Especially in Georgia, I’ve observed that a lot of people are afraid of taking risks, their decisions seem to be guided by fear of something. They don’t take steps to do things, because this fear blocks them. I don’t know where it’s coming from. It could be the wars and history. I’m not saying that it’s not in other countries but it’s definitely present here. Maybe living in a small country and not being able to travel and see what’s out there is generating this fear.
France’s medical system was amazing in terms of ease of use and affordability. In Australia, we had really good access to alternative practitioners. In Ireland, we had an amazing kindergarten for our daughter and it was funded by the government so we didn’t have to pay anything. In countries where we lived the support systems were not necessarily built into the policy but they did exist.
I find it a bit concerning to have my childbirth planned in Georgia, but I know what I can ask for, what to accept, and what to decline. I have worked with a doula before and I have done some research. I feel ready but I don’t agree with how things are here, and I think it should be different in terms of support for childbirth. I don’t understand why it’s only done in hospitals and why there is not more support around childbirth, “alternative” options that you have in many countries don’t exist here. Even in third world countries, it feels like you have more options for natural birth than in Georgia. In this way, it feels a little bit backward. I don’t know if it’s a political thing or why aren’t those options available around birthing and breastfeeding.
In the US, for example, you can still birth at home and then you go and register it. But here you can’t birth at home. If it happens by accident, then you have to go to the hospital anyway to register so you can’t have it registered anywhere else. So either way you end up in the hospital. Why?
My friend in Australia had a home birth and after a week she just registered the birth certificate by mail. It just puts more stress unnecessarily, it feels like there’s something odd in the whole approach. How do people who live in the villages and mountains give birth? Do they come down to hospitals in advance? There are a lot of strange things that I’m still observing and questioning.
I’m working on multiple projects for next year. I want to open my business. I definitely want to do an exhibition here as well. I’m putting things in motion, not waiting for the baby to be born. It’s becoming a bit harder as the labor’s approaching. Now I have an article coming out in England about the work I was doing at the school, that’s linked to an award that I received.
Depending on what type of baby it is and how things go with breastfeeding, I might do workshops here. I do prefer working online though. I did a course a few months ago, about how to make art using AI. It was aimed at teachers and librarians, helping them to integrate AI into the curriculum but also the ethics, how to address it, and what to do with it. The course went very well, so I might continue with online workshops.