“Children see magic because they look for it.” --Christopher Moore
I am a writer. I am not a painter. I have always wanted to immerse a paintbrush into a brilliant color, glide the soft bristles across the white canvas and recreate the beauty I have seen so masterfully created in nature. But when I try the images in my mind never match those, which my fingers so awkwardly attempt to make. So words are my medium; they are the tools with which I paint my pictures. Because words enable me to be both an artist and musician--crafting images and forming lyrical verses through the expression of written language--I don't lament my inability to paint, well not often. I have accepted, many years ago, that even rudimentary stick art is beyond my capabilities.
I am a mother. I wish to fulfill all my children's dreams. I hope to be everything that they want and need. I want to be the one who nurses the hurt, bakes the cookies, gives the hugs, dispenses the best advice and never disappoints. But just as I have learned that I can't sketch perfectly formed knotholes on trees, which with the right shading and shadows, appear to shiver in a cold wind, I am learning that I can't always be the one who fulfills my children's every need. I realize that the ways in which I may want to mother them may not be the ways, which I can. But they teach me daily that I also shouldn't minimize my means to accomplish and achieve what I want and that I shouldn't give up on myself or the parts I have long relinquished to failure. My greatest discovery so far has been seeing how brilliantly they have colored my world. They never try to diminish or erase instead they add texture and colors, showing me that maybe I am more than I may believe.
My son's newest passion is Angry Birds. And with this adoration has come his desire to adorn himself with the characters. So one day, with face paints in small hands, he asked me to paint them on his arm. He didn't, for a moment, consider whether I had the ability to do so. He never hesitated, thinking that I may not have the talent. He didn't question whether I was an artist because he just believed it to be so. I faced those open, believing eyes with my own full of doubt and hesitation. But as mothers' know, we try not for ourselves but for those trusting eyes that only reflect faith and confidence in us. So I sat down, tentatively picked up a detail brush, studied his beloved stuffed animal and began to outline.
After ten minutes of requesting his stillness and my dogged effort, I had created a miniature replica of his favorite Angry Bird on his tiny forearm. He beamed. So did I. It didn't matter that the lines made shaky curves or that the eyes were a bit uneven, my son looked at it and saw a beauty rivaling the Sistine Chapel. Why? Because children can see magic--a magic created when one loves so purely and innocently that life is nothing but beauty and possibilities. Turning his arm admiringly, showing his father proudly, he loudly proclaimed me an artist. I silently proclaimed me a work in progress. Not a failed artist, resigned musician, often too hesitant writer but someone who has the ability to see my own magic if only I look.
So you want to write a book? You want to paint? You want play the piano? Then see what your child sees--your ability, your potential, your promise. Children's eyes are magical mirrors that reflect only your best features, your greatest gifts, your most special spaces--the part of you that can be more if you only just allow it.
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Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International