Setting the Scene
Any budding artist has had the experience of painting still life. Setting up the background to enhance the object of your desire is painstaking...the folds in the fabric must look perfectly folded. The flow of the background should compliment the subject. The subject itself has depth, character and an ambiance that pulls the viewer in.
I like to think that raising children is similar to that of an artist, preparing a masterpiece.
First of all, the parents who have decided to bring a child into the world, painstakingly prepare for the arrival of any news that 9 months down the road, little baby wails will be gracing the hallways of their home. From the beginning second that a woman declares she is pregnant, she begins a preparation of her home to welcome the newborn child. Walls are painted, clothes, toys and knick knacks are purchased. All before the actual subject has entered the picture. The preparation for a child requires intense planning, aligning themes and seeking out ideas that will not only enhance the atmosphere designed for the new little tot, but aesthetically is appealing to all who view it.
Breathe...in and out!
Parents who take Lamaze classes have no idea how learning correct breathing techniques will help them in the future. Personally, it was no help during childbirth. Show me the drugs was my mantra after experiencing pains in my abdomen that can only be described as someone twisting my intestines up and putting them through a meat grinder. No...breathing was not an issue at that point. When one screams, one breathes!
I am referring to learning how to breathe once the little one comes home. Little do parents realize how much a new born baby can cry. Problem is, they can't tell you why. I guess that theme carried into adolescence as well. Young prepubescent teens go through such hormonal rages that everyone in the house seems to cry on a weekly; if not daily basis.
All I know is that once you place that still life subject on the fabric...it's over. Your painting has come alive and there is no turning back!
The picture before your eyes will change views from different perspectives. One day, the picture looks clear and bright. Another day, clouds seem to hover in the sky and don't dissipate for days. Yet another day can bring snow or rain showers. For those of you that don't speak in metaphors I am speaking of the ups and downs of parenthood. It is simply a roller coaster and I guarantee that you won't always be the one with your hands in the air screaming for more. You may at some point be the passenger puking their guts out and begging for it all to stop.
I should have used oils instead of water colors...
Parenting frustrates me sometimes. Being a parent can be complete elation and pride puffing up my chest. It can be painstakingly difficult and take the wind right out of my sails.
I find that as my children grow older, I realized that when I was painting myself into the portrait; I should have used oil paints instead of watercolors. Why? Oils are much more durable and can hold up to natural and not so natural disasters that come with raising children. Watercolors bleed and give in and become runny when mixed with tears and my focus then becomes murky and questionable. I never thought that my own children would be able to cause me to feel like a child myself. Some days I look at them and see their mouths moving but I can only hear my thoughts wondering "who are these people and why are they calling me mom"?
I mean, I don't remember getting older and I certainly don't remember volunteering to be a verbal punching bag. I guess that the fact my children often feel inclined to voice their opinions can be viewed positively. They have a security with me they don't have with others and therefore, they feel they can be more expressive. I raised them to be independent thinkers and therefore, by forcefully sharing their views, it projects the positive trait of a healthy self esteem.
On the other hand, when I am pondering over my own growth in years and what seems like a demise that creeps closer and closer; I don't hear my children speaking to me but a lot of white noise. Static , annoying white noise and I do my best to block it out.
I struggle daily as a single parent over decisions that I have to make concerning their welfare and their choices. It's as if I have the angel/devil scenario going on between my two shoulders; telling me on one hand to encourage them and on the other hand to kick them out the door.
Is the masterpiece ever really finished?
Most parents begin to plan their future when their kids enter high school. Thoughts of sending the kidlets off to college and revamping their old bedrooms into jacuzzi/spa rooms or exercise rooms seem to be rising in popularity. However, don't the kids eventually come back?
I mean, college is a short fix and let's face it...it only lasts a few years. There are no guarantees that a college education is a golden ticket to Wonka Work Land. Many adults find it difficult to maintain some resemblance of normalcy; especially after raising kids. How can we expect our children to spread their wings and leave the nest, never to come home again?
The truth is, the masterpiece we started long before we brought our children into the world will never be completed. We will never stop worrying. We will find it difficult to bite our lips when our kids share their crazy and out of the norm ideas for their lives. We will want to rescue them continuously from being hurt and it will rip us apart deep inside when we realize that we truly cannot do so. Being a parent puts the brush in our hand and a canvas in front of us. We begin the painting..often with still life; until it we find there is so much living in our painting that it spreads out beyond the canvas. Soon, it becomes a tapestry of life that we can actually step into. There will be rips, bumps and puddles of turpentine along the way but we use these obstacles as mere stepping stones to get to a point where we can stand back and admire our handiwork. There are only two words that can describe our children..the product of all of our work. They are: worth it.