The Art of Motherhood

A little over a year ago, I started taking picture of my son’s art.

In case you didn’t know, or if you needed a warning, having children means you receive pounds of artwork. From everywhere.

Go to Sunday school? Here’s the craft. Stay for two church services on a Sunday morning? Double that. Your kid is in school? Monday: five papers in the take home folder. Wednesday: twenty. Friday: one thousand (at least).

Now, with my oldest, he doesn’t just do crafts. He does above and beyond. He draws on every piece of paper he gets, therefore, I also receive every paper he uses.

It’s not bad, but we could probably save a forest if he didn’t draw so much.

So, after hearing about an idea shared by other people on the Internet, I decided to start taking pictures of “every” drawing Liam did. (“Every” being most, because if it was truly every, then I would have thousands of pictures.) I put my favorite ones aside, and then I throw away the ones that I’ve photographed. Sometimes I cringe because the art! I cannot throw it all away! And then I remember the growing pile of crafts, paper, scrap pieces of paper, and also more paper that accumulates in my house.

I did not think for a moment that I would have a child who would become an artist. I don’t like making art. Making things with my own ideas and creativity feels a little bit painful to me. Give me directions and a plan (or paint by numbers), and I will love every minute. Ask me to draw a picture of a dog with his owner on a piece of paper, and I want to shrivel up and die because I hate drawing.

But my sweet son. He is an artist.

Lucky for him, and lucky for me, we’re surrounded by people who love art.

In October, Evan and I took a solo trip to Chicago for my birthday. My brother, an artist and an art teacher, took us to The Art Institute of Chicago. It was the best thing I’ve done in years. The last time I willingly went to learn about art was years ago, probably as a teenager. We spent hours and hours looking at the paintings as my brother told us stories about the artist and the techniques they used and their influence. I felt like I saw something in the world I had never really seen before.

My grandma told my brother, “I have always hidden my talent. I don’t want you to do that. Take your art to the world.” I think about this often because of my son. I think about this often because of who I am, too. This right here is art, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

Maybe one day I’ll pick up a paintbrush and create art to learn to let go and create something without a plan. I think that would be good for me. It’s something that I want to nurture slowly: the ability to create simply because I can. Not because I have to be good at it. It feels easy here as I write, but I think there’s always room to learn and grow.

My son does it well. He teaches me what it’s like to dream and create with abandon. I watch him draw the world around him, and the tears that well up in my eyes are significant. He’s already learning to do what he loves. I can’t believe I get to watch him.

I think of the crowd that day at the museum in Chicago. We were lucky to have my brother with us because he told us things that the little plaques on the wall couldn’t. I don’t think I’ll ever go to a museum without him. (Hope that’s okay with you, Josh.) The people, regardless of race, gender, nationality, whatever, they flocked to see the art. It transcends the limits of humanity. There is so much beauty in that.

I hope one day there’s artwork on those walls that originated right here in my home.

Anything is possible when we take our art to the world.

If you’d like to read more about my grandma, the book Dead Rita’s Wisdom by my aunt, Vicky Trabosh, is one that I cannot recommend highly enough. I come from women of great wisdom, and I couldn’t be more proud of the work my aunt has done through this book. There’s also a picture of me when I was seven, so if anything, buy it for that. (But mostly for the wisdom.)

Published by Janelle Delagrange

Wife to a graphic designer, mom to three young boys, and writer of the soul.

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