All mothers think their kids are geniuses. Mine was wrong.
My mom thought I was the smartest, most talented kid in the world, and she liked to put the evidence up on the refrigerator. Creations of construction paper, glue, tempera paint, bits of yarn, macaroni, glitter, crayon…they all went on the fridge. Entire forests were felled for the sake of my art. She must have surreptiously sneaked down the oldest ones and thrown them out, bit by bit; otherwise, our house would have looked like that reality show where people hoard so much stuff they can’t even walk through their homes.
I wasn’t all that smart or talented, but because my mom believed I was, I did, too. Basketball games, plays, field days, speech competitions… she was always right there, cheering me on. And she did it alone, a single mom with two jobs and two kids. She even signed me up for private art classes–something she could ill afford–but I blew it because I didn’t want to draw what the others were drawing and the teacher threw me out.
What very few people knew about my mother was that she was a fabulous artist herself. She once sat down with a piece of notebook paper and a pencil and did a dead-on, beautiful rendering of Scarlett O’Hara running down the lawn of Tara away from the Tarleton twins, in that multi-layered, flouncy dress. She did it from memory and it was great. I wish I had it now. My mom didn’t have time to pursue her art, because she was too busy raising kids, but she made sure I did. She gave my brother and me everything, and she asked nothing for herself.
I often wonder what my mother’s life would have been like if she hadn’t married at 16, been forced to drop out of school, and poured herself into her kids. Would she have been an artist? Did she ever wonder that herself? Did she regret having kids instead of finishing her studies and pursuing a career? If she did, it never showed. I was dumb enough to believe that having kids ruined your life, so I didn’t have any. Seems now that was wrong, but maybe not; I don’t think I could have been as unselfish as my mother was, as graceful.
My mother was an artist in the things that mattered. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.