It’s Coming and I Can’t Stop it.

I still, regrettably, haven’t yet seen summer blockbuster, Wonder Woman, but the first day of my son’s kindergarten last week certainly make me feel like a version of her.

By 10:00 am I had shipped paintings, run a 5k in the brutal heat, answered all my emails, deposited checks, and sketched out ideas for future paintings.

By lunchtime I had finished two small paintings I’m pretty jazzed about. By two o’clock I’d worked on and nearly completed a much larger painting and was settling down with a cup of coffee in my backyard to continue reading the Georgia O’Keeffe biography I’d picked up at the library a few days ago.

At 3:00, I was on my merry way to pick up my son who, by the way, despite all my fretting last week, had a great day. I couldn’t wait to see him.

I felt accomplished– like part of me that had gone missing had returned, swooped in the moment she was allowed to show me all she was capable of in just a few hours.

Rewind to just the day prior and I was the crazy lady yelling at her kid who had just dipped his entire grimy hand in the mochi ice cream cart at Whole Foods where the tolerance for such public displays of discipline is far lower than, say, Walmart. Later that day I saw a few articles floating around Facebook with titles like “what yelling does to your kids” and I couldn’t bear to open them for fear they would be a resounding and final judgement on my parenting. Which is all probably just to say, the previous humblebrags aren’t so quite so braggy but more like one long, deep, sigh, of finally.

It’s difficult to just sit with myself, to be only in the company of my own thoughts and feelings. I’ve almost forgotten what that’s like. But when I don’t, I’m driving a freight truck on next to no gas– sputtering on fumes, always on the verge of crashing.

Art, again and again refocuses me: These are marks that I am making. They weren’t there until I willed them to be so. It’s an act of agency like no other I experience– akin, I’d imagine, to the musician who disrupts silence with melody or the dancer whose movements annihilate stillness. Paint dismantles blankness. Just writing about it has filled me, once again with awe at that power although I doubt these words are doing it justice. In my day-to-day, and particularly this summer, I found myself forgetting who I am: autonomous, whole (albeit a good bit broken), more like a Wonder Woman not in battles or traditional acts of bravery, but in the quieter moments when I connect with my own powers to shape things, literally and less literally.

Which is why I know it’s coming– another painting-a-day challenge. It’s been since last November. Nearly a year. And the incredibly gratifying 100 paintings in 100 days I did starting in April of 2015 was over two years ago. I feel that little mental nudge, the quiet whisper: “It’s time”. It’s time to give myself that blessed structure that only a painting a day can provide. Create, write (think), repeat. Solace. Agency.  I’m not certain what this next, looming challenge will look like; I usually have some loosely held themes. But I know it’s brewing.

Do you want to join me? One task every day for thirty one days in October? Yoga, painting, writing, macaroni necklace making, photography, hopscotch– any of it. All of it.  No rules, just action. If enough are interested, I’ll do the organizing; I’ll create an online space where we can share our 31 days together. Just comment, “I’m in” and I’ll include you.

Single Mom on Mother’s Day

I had an honest-to-God good Mother’s Day for the first time since I’ve become a mom. There was nothing particularly different about it in theory except this time my four year old had the language skills to repeatedly ask me when it would be “child’s day,” unconvinced that every day since his birth has been one long celebration of that.

I used to get particularly sad about my single-mom status on Mother’s Day. I’ve always had a great support system who never let that anxiety-producing day pass without gifting me the flowers or cards I’d always imagined I’d get from a spouse. I know it might sound ungrateful (which it certainly is not), but it just isn’t the same. Mother’s day used to remind me not of all my son has and all that I have in him, but of all I lack, of all I’ve failed to provide. Of dreams shattered.

This year was different. Perhaps I’ve just put in my time– the years of grief have finally watered the grounds and new life is starting to bloom– above the surface where you can actually see all the hard work that has been going on all along.

This year I was able to believe people who said “you’re a great mom” and even if there was (and there probably wasn’t) an unspoken “given the circumstances” that followed the sentiment, I was able to ignore it. For the first time, I didn’t feel like I was doing great with what I had, but just that I was doing great. My family was full and rich– not lacking. Not substandard. Not broken.

Painting, perhaps more than anything else got me here. My painting career and my son’s life go hand in hand. I started when he was just a baby.  Making things from blank pages made me feel powerful. If a surface is blank, there is no end to how you can color it. My touch means something. I make things happen even if it’s just a bright blue line across a stark white canvas.

my first ever painting of my son and me

So to all my single moms (and dads) I was thinking of you today as I painted. God, this whole thing can be so hard. Your marks matter– are no less worthy than anyone else’s. The way you color your blank pages is beautiful; I’ve learned from so many of you. Thank you.

And if you need a little encouragement, read this, it gets me every time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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