Much of my artwork has to do with motherhood: the dynamics between a mother and her child, as well as those between a mother and her mother. My own mother frequently appears in my paintings, almost always as a child. Painting her this way helps me understand her better and makes me feel closer to her. It also has the odd effect of reversing our roles, where I can look upon her through the eyes of a mother.
This past fall, my mother fell very ill. She gave us all quite a scare. Fortunately, she has since fully recovered. At the time though, while in the thick of it, she said something that stuck with me:
“In the beginning, I am your mother and you are my daughter. Now, we are sisters. Soon, you will be my mother, but not yet, not yet…”
I think about this a lot now; the changing roles we go through as we transition through life. All are special, and all have their particular challenges. My mother was fighting hard against this last stage, where we finally trade places and children look after their parents as they get on in age and are no longer able to care for themselves.
Fortunately (and as usual), she was right. Not yet.
Looking back at the paintings I have done and those still in the works, I wonder if this is another reason I paint my mother as a child, as if I am imagining my own role evolving. While I am more than a little relieved that this transition is no longer imminent, I find it doesn’t terrify me as much as it used to. I will honestly cherish the moment when I can begin to give back to her what she has selflessly given to us all these years.
It’s in this sense that I want to celebrate mothers and motherhood this year, in all its stages: mothers, sisters and children.
Wishing all mothers everywhere, past, present and future, a very special Mother’s Day!