Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reason for thanks

I'm headed out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday.

GI Joe and I will head up to Evanston (IL) for an extended family gathering of 30+ people, all of us knit together by decades of shared memories and love rather than mere legal or familial ties.

I wish you all could be there. It's quite a sight; the group gathered looks like an old Benneton ad - skin colors in all shades of white, beige and brown - multi-generational and multi-ethnic; a testimony to the power of love and shared humanity being greater than individual differences and fear of the "other".

A large, noisy, opinionated, engaged and loving family, which bears no resemblance to the one into which I was born.

Art Boy will stay in KC to celebrate the day with HIS adopted tribe; a collection of people, artists and poets mostly; people who have loved and nurtured him since his undergraduate days and with whom he has journeyed to celebrate Thanksgiving even when living in LA or NYC.

A group of friends who all contribute their special dishes, be it lasagna, salad, smoked turkey, oysters or home brewed beer - a potluck and day of 'come as you are' and 'bring what you have' that starts early and ends late - a feast which miraculously is opulent and remarkably balanced, if unconventional, just like the artists who prepare it.

We cannot know in what place or person we may find home.

Thanksgiving is a day which exists solely so we can be grateful - for both the basics of life -shelter, food and warmth - and, if we're lucky, for abundance; for those 'extras' that enrich our lives beyond measure - being known, accepted, and loved.

May all of you recognize much in your life for which to be grateful; may you have abundance!
Hope it's a wonderful day!

(ps: going up to WI where there's no computer access; I'll start posting again when I get back.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

So not me!

A question for all you parents out there: have you ever had the chance to really see your child as being completely and totally separate from you?

It’s wonderful and hard and exciting and scary– since, more often than not, what we really see when we look at our progeny is a variation on a theme of “mini-Me”.
But it does happen - if we’re lucky.

I’m embarrassed to say that my personal moment of recognizing Art Boys completely “other” uniqueness didn’t happen until he was a junior in high school.

That year for Christmas, he presented me with an image he had drawn of Mary from Michelangelo’s ‘Pieta’, using only a purple magic marker.

And I was totally blown away.

In fact, in one of my poorer parenting moments, which I’m sure both my children would tell you are as numerous as grains of sand at the shore, I said something along the lines of “Oh my God, I love it; who drew it?”

He patiently responded, “I did, Mom”.

Which only prompted from the now-forever out of-the-running-for-Mother-of-the-Year award- woman standing before him, “No, really; where did you get it; it’s wonderful”.

That whole fumbled encounter was the very first time I had allowed myself to see him, with all his own gifts and abilities which, by the way, bear absolutely NO resemblance to any I recognize in either his father or myself.

It amazed me that I had been living all those years with someone who had the talent to create such a powerful piece of work with something as ordinary as a marker.
I was stunned.

Seeing it on a daily basis in my room is a wonderful reminder that my children are not “mine”; they were created to be their own beings; to follow their own paths and to pursue their talents and dreams which may be, and generally are, vastly different than mine.

Today is my oldest son’s birthday.
He is an artist.
It takes a special kind of courage to produce art; to pour yourself into a creation and then step back, put it on display and symbolically say, “here I am; have at it”.
It takes even more courage to be willing to cobble together an economically marginal life so you can continue to honor what you believe you're called to do.

He has been my inspiration to be less afraid, to explore more, to play harder and more often and to challenge the ‘rules’ I impose on myself.

He has added color and joy and mystery to my life.

Being his mother has been a privilege that has changed me for the better.

Happy Birthday, Art Boy.
You are loved more than you can imagine – and your imagination is pretty damn good!