Yesterday I caught my four year old son leaping and twirling in front of a couple of paintings-in-progress by my 12 year old. He was amazed by her work and seemed to be having a bit of an “in body” experience with it – jump, spin, look. Tumble, turn upside down, look.
The art was pretty much eye level for him and he was definitely appreciating it.
“Mommy, How on EARTH did Ani get to be such an amazing artist? I mean really, Mommy. Look at this! Would you just look at it? AMAZING!”
Ani of course was nowhere within earshot. I whipped out my phone to capture the moment.
We all tell her how much we like her art, and it falls on deaf ears.
If only she had heard her brother singing, and dancing, her praises. Â Maybe something about his raw little kid-in-joyous-motion honesty would have struck her as authentic. The real deal. Maybe it would have been the magical moment where she believed in herself and saw her own talent. Maybe she would have been flattered, embarrassed but an ember would have landed and caught fire to her core.
Over and over she has told me that it doesn’t matter what I think. Mother’s HAVE to like their kid’s stuff. Mothers are famous for having a warped view about their kids and their talents. Mothers, do not count.
Maybe she’s right, about Mothers. I’ve seen the same. I don’t think I’m “like that” but I’m probably the last one to make a reliable diagnosis of Warped Mother-itis. Her unwavering lack of faith in herself has been enough for me to seek out the opinions of “experts” at times. Art teachers, strangers on the internet and Â four year olds all agree that there is a certain something about her work. Just maybe not the something she wishes it was.
This makes me unbearably sad.
She may be right about me, but she’s wrong about herself. Would that I could fill her parched soul with the confidence she lacks. I see where it comes from. Â I suffer from the same extreme seasons of doubt and drought. Good at a few things… great at nothing. It’s almost worse than being terrible at it all. Accepting that you are terrible gives you permission not to try. It protects you from rejection, disappointment, failure. There’s some comfort in that. A release.
I hear the whispers of frustration and I wish for a well of calm certainty. A belief in a talent that motivates a clear path. For both of us. Wouldn’t that be nice? How can I arrange for that? For a dip in the well of confidence?
You cannot bottle the contents of that well. Â And even if you could, you cannot force people to drink it.
But still… how I wish she’d overheard. For both our sakes.