I was talking to my mom one Saturday as she played on the floor with my kids. I told her of how I had learned so much this past year about making my own needs and interests a priority and how I’m certain that being an artist makes me a better mom. I asked,
Is there something that you would have done more for yourself when you were raising us?
Her answer took me by surprise.
Painting. I would have painted more.
I remember three paintings that floated around our home, mainly one of the sea, driftwood scattered with gulls on the shore. It’s a beautiful piece of art, the way she captured depth, dimension, and light. I want to be in that place every day of my life. Her love of driftwood was one we all knew, anytime we traveled to the beach, she would search for it, I remember her always trying to find a way to bring home these massively large pieces, we often suggested leaving one of our siblings behind to make space.
I thought about her answer and I only remember one time in the eighteen years of my childhood that I saw her sit down in front of a canvas and this latched tin of crinkled oils. I was a senior in high school and she had set up the supplies for my little brother, she was painting next to him. I remember a sky washed in the palest pink and the water was the softest blue, it was a foggy.
At first, my stance was disappointment in lost opportunities. I wanted to feel sad for her, for not making time to paint, in the midst of raising five children and helping run a business. I wanted to feel disappointment at the years that she missed out on doing one of the things she loved, while she was doing so much for the ones she loved.
I gazed out upon the world of light and dark, the pure, white snow made radiant by the shadowy brown of the tree, where approximately ten regenerate leaves have not surrendered. Tiny branches shivered in the bitter cold wind. Surfaces dusted with the latest snowflakes. And that is what I was watching, when my whole tone changed.
Because on this particular day, the one time I saw my mother sit down to paint, I walked in the room and I looked at the table covered in crinkled tubes of burnt sienna and titanium white and wooden brushes. I looked at her and said, I want to paint.
And friends, that was the day that I fell in love.
Without this day, would I be an artist now? It’s impossible to say, but thankfully, this is not a story about missed opportunity, it is not a tragedy.
And for all the days that she didn’t paint, she can do that now. And because of the one day that she did, I will too.
dear readers, tell me one of your stories.