I bet you didn’t know that I used to consider myself an artist. Not a great one, obviously, and I never made much money off of it. In fact, whenever anyone offered to pay me for a commission, I usually waved it off and just did it for free. I didn’t really think I was good enough to deserve payment.
Once Dexter was born, I kind of just stopped drawing and painting. Even though it had been my passion for years, I just didn’t have the time. And with two children now, I have even less. But a week or so ago, I was going through my closet for something, and I happened upon a few half-finished works that made me stop. I was kind of floored at the overwhelming feeling of something lost.
I remembered that feeling I used to get – where an idea for a painting jumped into my brain and I became a slave to its pull. I had to draw it, had to paint it. I was inspired by everything I saw. My mind was free and open and ready to take everything I looked at and make it into something beautiful.
I used to painstakingly map out each drawing, again and again until I had something perfect. Then I’d trace it and transfer it onto expensive art paper and work to make it as beautiful as my mind could see it.
Inevitably, I always failed. I am not a good enough artist to really capture what I see in my head.
But oh the bliss I would feel when it came close. My pride in my meager abilities would last only as long as it took to think of my next masterpiece, at which point the last one became the WORST THING EVER. I could never be happy with anything I created because I could only see its flaws.
Each new medium I tried: watercolors, acrylics, pastels, etc, became like a new Mount Everest. I was driven to conquer them. Mostly I only succeeded in wasting a lot of paper and canvas. But it felt so good to try. I saw other (greater) artists who made it look so easy. Even those I didn’t think were especially talented still had that certain something that made their paintings special. And I never gave up trying.
I was never as good as I wanted to be. And then, with motherhood came this strange belief that I couldn’t do it at all. Part of it was the lack of time. Raising kids is a true full time job. It requires attention 24/7, and it leaves little time for imagining, let alone creating. Add to this the guilt I would feel if I took any “me time” and the belief that any time not spent with my kids should be spent with my husband and you might understand where I was coming from. Not to mention that the few times I did try and paint, I had to do constant battle with Dexter grabbing the paints, brushes, and paper out of my hands, ruining so many attempts.
So I stopped. I stopped painting, and I stopped imagining. I even stopped caring.
But now I see that I did have some small bit of talent, and I gave it all up needlessly. It’s been three years since I’ve even attempted anything like this, and I believe I probably have lost most if not all of the abilities I once had. But I firmly believe it’s never too late to start again.
So I think I’m going to make it a goal to start painting again. To try and create a prettier world than the one I live in. To find the magic in my surroundings and transfer them to a piece of paper so that the world can see things the same way I do.
And maybe I will be happy again.
Did you ever have a talent you let go of? Have you lost part of who you are since you had kids? Am I the only one who let motherhood defeat her?