About a year ago, I set a goal for myself: to actually finish a work of art and display it at our regional fair. So naturally I didn't start working on it till 5 days before the fair submission date. Ha! This goal was actually kind of a big deal for me, cause I haven't done much art since graduating with my degree in Art Education about 5 years ago. I have taught plenty of art and done face painting, murals, family cartoon portraits, house portraits, etc for pay, but I haven't done a serious project just for me in a while. My greatest love in all my art classes was head drawing, so I decided it was time to get past my "but I'm so rusty and it will probably turn out hideous--WAHHH" insecurities along with my "but I'm a mom to littles and I'm pregnant and I have no time and I'm just SO TIRED--WAHHHH" excuses and just GET IT DONE. Plus, since moving into our new home, I have a room in our basement where I can leave out my projects and shut the door (baby-proof handle!) and not worry about little hands "helping" or making a huge mess (remember this paint disaster?) therefore, I have one huge hurdle out of the way.
SO. I did it. Now, this piece means a lot to me--I wanted it to embody the love of a mother. It is a picture of Sherie, who is one of my awesome sisters! :) But, I wanted every mom to see it and remember her own perfect mom moments, like the delicious feeling of a sweet sleeping babe in her arms. I wanted to remind others of the divine blessing and importance of being a momma. And, because I wanted this piece to be meaningful and uplifting to others, I prayed before I started and many times throughout, asking Heavenly Father to help me render this piece well enough to portray the meaning I intended. I knew I'd be rusty, and I was expecting that I'd need to work through a re-learning curve--and I was ok with that!--I just wanted the end product to be good enough that I could be happy with it. Cause I didn't have enough time before the fair for a do-over if it tanked! Plus, serendipitously, I found out my sister and her family would be visiting from out-of-state and wanted to go to the fair, so that really made me want to get it finished in time for a fun surprise! :) My parents knew I was working on this project, but my sister didn't. (It was so hilarious to see her shock at her picture randomly at the fair! Thank goodness she liked it!) :)
But the ironic thing--as I was working on this piece, I was having the hardest time actually feeling fulfilled, positive, and even grateful for motherhood. Ughh, that sounds horrible, I know but, you see, that week, while I tackled this drawing after bedtimes, my daytimes were spent in POTTY-TRAINING. This was my little dude's 2nd week at it...And it was going ROUGH. I'll spare you the details, but I was trying my very best to be positive and upbeat (my boy can be VERY stubborn and emotional) but progress was agonizingly slow and I was sooo tired. Plus, I also have a l-year-old into everything and I'm pregnant... (which means I feel like a crabby 80-year-old most of the time.) So every night, as I went to work on this drawing, I felt like I was fighting, not only my own rusty skills, but even worse, my own frustration with the often thankless, gross, messy, demanding job of being a mom to littles. I didn't feel all warm and fussy about it. But, this was the therapy that God gave me during this week: a time to create a piece that required me to deal with my emotions, pray for peace, and clear my heart and mind so that I could be in the right place to create this art.
There was another disappointment I was dealing with...I found out at my 20-week ultrasound that we are having another boy. Of course, I am SO grateful for a healthy baby!--but it took a couple good cries to deal with my disappointment. I have pregnancy-induced blood clots, so every pregnancy is a big risk for me, so this may be our last. So here I am drawing a picture of a mother and her daughter, trying not to dwell on that special bond that, for me at this point, it looks like I may never experience. But, I listened to a gorgeous little song that truly brought me so much peace and gratitude for my two little dudes and my sweet little fella on the way. :) I was also dealing with enormous guilt that I even care about the gender and that I was feeling anything but gratitude-- but as I listened to this song and drew, I realized that it wasn't that I didn't want this little boy inside of me, NO! I want him so much!!! I was just processing and letting go of the dream of having a daughter who I can share all my girl life experiences with: reading Anne of Green Gables together, getting ready for prom, helping her navigate getting a first bra, talking about boys, helping her as an adult prepare for kids of her own, going on girls' nights, and always helping her feel confident, beautiful, and strong just the way she is. Ya know, those moments where daughters need a mom. (Well, my boys better pick some awesome wives so we can have rockin' girls' nights!!) But, I also thought of the gift and trust God has given my husband and I in raising boys to love and respect others, to be strong men of faith, and to always honor and protect women and children. I do not take this lightly. I am truly am grateful for the chance to raise good men!! :)
So, here I was working every evening with this sweet song and my Heavenly Father melting away my frustrations and lifting my spirits. As I studied my niece's sweet face, my heart softened from the day's drama and I thought about my own boys and the perfect moments with them that shine in my memory. I got lost in the work--the curve of an arm, the light and shadows, the lost and found lines in soft flowing hair--it was highly fulfilling, even though it was so difficult to be re-learning a skill that used to come so much easier for me. I had to be patient with myself--but, it was also wonderful to be creating again! I thought several times, "*Sigh*...I've missed this." :) I felt my kind Father in Heaven bringing back little helpful thoughts from art classes and helping me to try something different when I'd get stuck. Granted, my picture didn't turn out perfect, but I am happy with the end product and proud that I actually finished something! :)
I think that often when we want to accomplish something hard, all kinds of opposition pops up--both from the outside and internally. Procrastination, fear, laziness, ANYTHING can stop us! Whether it's facing potty-training our child or learning (and re-learning) a skill when we know we might fail. But, God wants us to use our gifts and abilities, no matter what they are, to serve and uplift others and ourselves. :) We ALL have much good to offer this world and our families! And what a better place to start than by nurturing and loving our precious little children in our own home? Motherhood matters. Our kids will be the creations we are most proud of when we look back on our lives. Even when there's pee and tantrums and long nights and sore nipples and fevers and worry...We get to feel little sweet arms and hear the cutest little stories and OH the little baby laughs! Most of all, the love we feel. Ya know?
So the title I chose for my picture after this week of simultaneously suffering through (ha!) and loving motherhood, describes the feelings and thoughts I have during a heavenly moment like this:
"It's Worth It."
Love to you mommas, mommas-to-be, and women who nurture others everywhere! What you do matters and is so needed!! I know that God sees us and our daily efforts and loves us for all that we do.