"I like you just the way you are."
Morgan, my 6-year-old son, gets mad at me a lot, especially when I want to paint and he wants my attention.
Last year, I wrote in my diary:
"Nana told me that Morgan told her that he hates preschool, and he thinks I don't love him anymore. And that I love painting more than I love him. I'm severely depressed that he feels this way. In general, I am feeling pretty low, and torn about my desire to paint, and the validity of it...Being a mom is hard."
When he started kindergarten last September, Morgan had a very hard time adjusting to the long days in school. For weeks, he cried on the school bus, in class, and at recess. He drew this picture of me plein-air painting a bridge scene, while he looks sadly out of the window of his elementary school, on the hill above me.
He's so sad in this picture. When I saw it, I felt so guilty!!
As the weeks went on, Morgan did finally adjust to school, and even grew to enjoy the friendships and activities there. And yet, I continued to torture myself with guilty feelings. I couldn't reconcile my desire to be an artist with my ideal of a "good mother." I wrote in my diary in January:
"I'm so unhappy with myself. I'm so unhappy. I was horrible with my family. I can't stand being the person I am. I can't do art the way I want. Life keeps getting in the way, so many obligations...I'm so miserable. Today was so hard...I'm being a terrible mom. I'm not present with my kids. I'm not really with them. I'm thinking about Art. I'm fantasizing about Art. I want to read my new art book. I'm thinking about the art class I'm going to take....I'm so unhappy and miserable...I don't think I'll be able to paint tomorrow."
Luckily, I started watching old Mr. Rogers episodes with my son, and that helped me snap out of it. The reality is that emotions within a family are constantly changing, and it's okay. Sometimes my son is mad, other times affectionate, or sad, or jealous, or whatever. He is allowed to have feelings! I don't need to obsess over them, or judge them. And in all honesty, my son isn't always mad at me. Often, he is delighted that I'm painting. He'll offer to pose for me, or ask if he can paint next to me.
He even designed me this Robot. (It's a Studio-Assistant-Robot!)
On the left, the robot makes frames. (Frames also come out of his head.) He has different paint colors inside his body, and a palette below. On the one arm he has two containers of gamsol, and on the other arm is a jar of liquin. (Those are things I use a lot for oil painting.) The robot also has a big, cheerful smile. I love this Robot! And I love my son! And, he obviously loves me. (I mean, take a look at this robot!)
Love triumphs over guilt any day.
It's going to be okay.
How do you deal with your own feelings of guilt? Leave a comment with your thoughts, ideas, or experiences, and you will be entered into a raffle to win a FREE PRINT of any painting on my website.
Deadline: 9 pm, Tuesday June 14th.