Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Delayed Redemption


If you have been reading here for any length of time, you'll know my list of post topics is a short one; my mothering missteps, my hubby's cooking, blood clots, crazy days with my kids, the occasional nice days with my kids...oh, and guilt posts.  I write a lot of those.  If you thought Catholics and Jews had the monopoly on guilt, you never met a Mormon.  Most Mormon women who embrace the legacy of self flagellation (not flatulation, as in tooting.  Flagellation, as in kicking one's own butt),  will focus their woe-ing on their inability to bake while sewing while playing the piano while modestly nursing under a dropcloth, whilst also listening to the scriptures on CD.  Not long ago Ruth invited us to their Passover Seder.  We stayed to help clean up at the end, but had to get Ethan somewhere and couldn't stay till the last matzo crumb was swept up.  I apologized to Ruth.  "It's the Mormon in you," she laughed.  Ah, she knows me well.

Now, I can't say we have any more guilt than anyone else, but in my case, I've got my mom-guilt ("I should play with my kids more"), mixed with my Mormon-guilt, which here diverges into two strains of guilt; doctrinal ("I should be reading my scriptures more") and cultural ("I should have my genealogy memorized in song form - that I wrote myself - all the way back to Adam").  I have added a few new layers to my own guilt parfait; doula-guilt ("I should offer my services at a discount to deserving mothers!"), writer-guilt ("I should write on my blog 3 times a week and never offend anyone!"), and artist-guilt.  Yep, you heard me.  Art.  Guilt.  Two words that were meant to go together.  

I should have finished the painting shown above a long, long, LONG time ago.
The folks who commissioned this painting are the nicest people.  The image was taken from a photo -the last photo- of their two sons together.  It went through a billion degrees of frustration and revamping.  I quit about 8 times.  I was heard to utter the phrase, "I suck at this!!!!  What ever made me think I could paint?", weekly.  I repainted the entire painting at least 3 times in most areas, up to 10 times in others.  Why?  Because I needed it to be perfect.  It was their son.  Their son who had died in Iraq.  And I couldn't mess it up.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination"?  
Yah.  Well I'm its stepmother.

At one point in the development of the painting, I was invited to these boy's parent's home.  When I came home I told Guy, "This is all wrong!  I know what I need to do now!"  After having been in their home, surrounded by their favorite things, I understood my painter's-block.  Their style is very bright, and cheerful.  Vibrant!  

The painting had not been vibrant.  It was more like an overcast day, washed out and colorless by comparison.  I attacked the painting with my palette.  I turned dull sands and bland skies into vivid fields of color.  I added edges of purple and crisped horizon lines with red.  It started to look like it belonged in their home.

And now it is in their home.  Finally.

After they left with their painting, I felt about five consecutive minutes of utter relief, followed by two full minutes of not being sure what to do with myself, which was immediately trailed by the need to return to the studio.  I have two more overdue commissions to complete.

Gosh golly darn.  That's Mormon for, "Oy vey".

Warrior Son Derek... his nephew, who was born after his uncle had died,
 walked right in and said, "Hey, that's Uncle Derek!"  The best compliment ever.

The Brother who was left behind.
 I feel like I know them both and I have never met them.


4 comments:

Nicole Waxman said...

The painting looks great! You are so talented!

jstme said...

You are right!
That DOES look like it belongs in the Roberts' home!
You did a wonderful job, Laine!
Thanks for spreading joy in this world

rebekahmott said...

Another good read at a good time for me to catch it. I joke with my family when I say I feel bad about ....
I'll say that is the catholic in me. But its true. we mormons feel guilt or at least I do, something I am working on. Its hard sometimes because then I feel like I don't care ugh just learning to grow I guess.

rebekahmott said...

Another good read right when I need to hear it. I to am a mormon mom and wife that feels guilt for things that others don't seem to take a second look at. I am working on that because I want to realize that just because I don't make a big fuss I still care and am trying my best. Does that make sense?