A Mother’s Hug Lasts Long After She Lets Go

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A watercolor rendition of a photo of Joey Feek and her daughter Indiana

It’s post Mother’s Day, a day that is meant to honor. remember, and celebrate our mothers and our own motherhood.  It is often a day of joy and making memories, but for many, it is also a day that signifies loss.  It might be the loss of a mother.  I lost my own mother at the age of 44 due to breast cancer.  It might be the unimaginable loss of a child.  I lost my first daughter, Sierra RayLeen, who was a preemie that died the same day she was born.  Perhaps it’s the loss of hope to become a mother, or the feeling of loss for a mother that has given up a child for adoption, or has been a surrogate, granting another to experience the joys of being a mother.  For some, it may be a combination of these scenarios, or others not mentioned.  I feel so fortunate to have known my mother and have had her for as long as I did.  I know so many that lost their mothers at a much younger age than mine.  Sadly, some never even know their mother.

Joey Feek, country singer and composer, was on my mind on Mother’s Day.  She died recently of cervical cancer, leaving behind an amazing family, including a beautiful daughter, Indiana.  Her story captured my heart from the moment I heard it.  Perhaps it was because she was so young, as was my mother.  Perhaps it was because she died of cervical cancer (I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, the earliest stage remedied with a hysterectomy).  All I know is that I was drawn into the story of she and her family as she was deemed terminal and she went to her childhood home to spend her remaining days with her family.  Her husband, Rory had said she was not going home to die, but to “live”.  The love she had for her family was evident in every last photograph that was shared with the public. I did an abstract painting from a photograph of Joey and her daughter, Indiana, who had fallen asleep on her mother who was embracing her while laying on a hospital bed.  It was a beautiful photograph, and the moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to paint it.  I had found a quote that I thought was perfect for this photograph, “A mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go”.

On this Mother’s Day, I was elated to spend time with my two grown children, Talisa and Taylor.  I am so thankful that God blessed and entrusted me with these  two beautiful beings.  They are grown-up, but they will always be my babies.  I have outlived my mother’s age by nearly five years now, and I recognize how fortunate I have been to watch my kids grow up and to see my grandchildren.  Nothing is promised and we never know how much time we have here on earth.  I am truly grateful for every moment I have with my children, whether it’s spending time together, on the phone, or even the little messages we send back and forth (thanks to current technology).  As quoted by Hermann Hesse, “If I know what love is, it is because of you”.

Wrapped in Love

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Wrapped in Love

 

By now, many of you have noticed that I paint a lot of pictures about mothers and children, primarily babies.  I don’t think there is anything more beautiful, amazing, precious, delicious-smelling, soft, and snuggly than a little baby.  I will expand that to say that I also love baby animals; kittens, puppies, ferrets, you name it, I love it, especially in baby-form.  Baby toes are like little sausages…you just want to eat them up!!!  Not literally of course, but seriously, I want to kiss those little precious nuglets of goodness.  You can’t really do this once babies start crawling/walking, as then they no longer remain clean, and, well being a germaphobe, it just ain’t happening.  For some reason, this brings me back to when my kids were very little, probably 4 & 5 years-old.  It was Father’s Day and they had brought my husband and I breakfast in bed.  It was simply a bowl of cereal for each of us (I love cereal…hello!!!…who doesn’t love a good bowl of Cap’n Crunch?!), they brought up two bowls of cereal and two spoons…it was a precious moment.  The look on their precious, cherubic little faces was priceless.  They were so proud that they had done this all on their own…yes they did.  I’m not going to lie…being a germaphobe, I am always concerned about whether someone has washed their hands before handling something that I am eating, or after shaking hands, etc.  I wanted to enjoy my bowl of cereal that my precious littles had prepared for us…but I let my husband take the first bite, since it was Father’s Day.  He did so, and of course, raved about how delicious it was, and how he especially loved it because it came from them.  I went to take my first bite, when I saw that my husband had a puzzled look on his face and hear him utter, “where did you get these bowls?”….I slowly put my spoon back in the bowl, as they answered “the dishwasher”…which, of course we were both realizing contained dirty dishes, hence the film of grit that he had scraped upon while gathering a spoonful of cereal.  There was also remnants of something on the spoons, the likes of which, I didn’t want to even guess what it could be.  We laughed and “ate” our cereal (and when I say “ate our cereal”, I mean, we pretended to eat our cereal and then dumped it out when the kids weren’t looking).  It is one of those funny moments that you laugh about with your kids when they are older and can find the humor in it all.  It was such a precious moment.  It wasn’t about the cereal, or dirty bowls & spoons…it was about the love that was demonstrated when our precious babies thought  about us on that special day.  There are many other precious days like this, but this is one is one of my favorites, as it was when we were still a strong family unit.  There is nothing more precious than that.  While my husband and I divorced, we each still experienced many other loving moments with our kids.  I watch my son with his kids and see the love that he has for them.  I know he will have many memories of dirty cereal bowls filled with love, and that makes my heart full and realize the many blessings I have in my life.

Hip Mom

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“Hip Mom”

Any mother will recognize this stance.  It seems to be the primary stance from the time your children are old enough to hold up their head, to the time they are too heavy to hold (for any length of time, anyways).  It’s almost a global symbolism for motherhood, as it is a stance used in most, if not all cultures.  Many carry their child this way while they are doing daily chores, shopping, or just snuggling with their child.  It feels to be a method to keep your child close, allowing them to feel safe, and comfortable next to mum; they can see the world around them, but within the safe confines of mother’s arms.  And as the hip pain sets in (due to poor posture and weight distribution), we switch our children to the other side.  For me, since I am right-handed, this often meant struggling to do daily activities with my left hand, not an easy feat for someone that is definitely dominantly right-pawed.

When my children were little, I had a difficult time “letting go”.  It was hard for me to allow them to be independent.  I was afraid of them getting hurt.  I even fretted about them getting dirty, which was ridiculous, because a.) they were children and b.) we lived in the country, where it is simply impossible NOT to get dirty.  My children loved to wander, explore, and yes, get dirty…really dirty.  A few unforgettable moments were when we found our children playing in the cow’s watering trough, sitting in it like a Jacuzzi tub.  As you can imagine, these tubs were not pristine, so I was a little freaked out.  Another time, my children decided to see what the cows’ salt lick tasted like.  As a germaphobic mother, this caused me a lot of anxiety.  Of course, I laugh about it now…as do my adult children.  I did ease-up over time, allowing my children to get filthy (oh so filthy), as they did take nightly baths, so my anxiety-riddled self would feel better knowing they were going to bed clean, free of the day’s filth, well, most of it anyhow.

I believe that part of the reason it was difficult for me to allow them independence early-on, was that it was simply hard for me to let go of them as children; as it meant they were growing up.  I wanted to preserve those sweet babies as they were so precious.  What I learned is that each stage of childhood was a treasure.  It was sad to see them transition from the “Littles” stage, but I also enjoyed watching them grow up into amazing, beautiful, thoughtful, loving adults. As they grew, I grew as well.  I tried to be a better mom each day.  I wasn’t perfect (I’m sure my children will quickly attest to this), but I have always loved them with all my heart and I have always tried to be the best mama I could be.  I believe my children know and understand this as well.  And while I’m no long able to hold my children on my hip, I will always hold them in a special place in my heart.

Days of Lavender

 

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“Days of Lavender”

I am loving the beautiful Spring weather we have been experiencing here in the Pacific Northwest.  The warm sunshine, new blossoms, and sounds of lawnmowers cutting blades of grass now reaching for the sky.  My favorite season has always been Spring, probably because I have been fortunate to live in an area that is picture-perfect when in bloom.  One of my favorite flowers is lavender.  Aside from the gorgeous color, the fragrance is heavenly.  I’m not big on floral scents, but I do love lavender, fresh or dried.  I even love lavender-scented products (ie: laundry detergent, hand soap, lotions).  I love smelling fresh clean, lavender-scented towels!!  Something about white linen and lavender just puts me in a good mood. In fact, my bedroom is white and lavender, which just feels so fresh and clean to me.  For some reason, lavender emotes feelings of a fresh new start, or starting over.  It’s a time to renew goals, forgive yourself for mistakes made, make positive changes, and start fresh.  It’s also a time for gratitude; gratitude for the opportunity to start anew, and for the many blessings in our life.  I am grateful for my family, the many friends in my life, my faith and the gift to express myself through watercolor. I am thankful for my days of lavender.  

 

Snuggles With My Littles

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“Snuggles with my Little”

My kids will tell you that I am extremely affectionate with those I love.  I have been that way for my whole life.  When my kids were “littles” I loved those special moments when they would crawl up in my lap and snuggle with me; their little heads nestled in my neck, and a warm blanket wrapped around us, keeping us warm.  To this day, when I am around someone holding a baby, I will find myself rocking back and forth…in fact, I am rocking back and forth as I write this, just thinking about holding my children. I miss those times.  Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed watching my children grow into amazing adults.  They are beautiful, kind, funny, witty, talented, amongst other things, and I love being around them. But, what I wouldn’t give to have a few moments with them both as “littles” again.  Their sweet innocence, precious personalities, and overall little lumps of sweetness that I could snuggle.  I am truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to be their mama.  I cannot express how much I love them each.

“Snuggles With My Littles” was painted to capture those precious moments with my babies (yes, they are still, and always will be my babies).  While my babies are grown, I now get to snuggle with my grand babies.  You can’t imagine that you can love anyone like you love your children…and then grand babies come along.  They are amazing…and even look a lot like my kiddos, so it’s a lot like snuggling with my babies all over again.  Yes, I am truly blessed.

 

Great Expectations

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Great Expectations

It’s been nearly 29 years since I experienced my first pregnancy. I knew very early on in my childhood that I wanted to be a mom. I was only 19-years-old when I was first married and was pregnant less than a year later. I can still remember the first “flutters” in my belly, proof that there really was a little being growing inside. It was the most amazing feeling and I couldn’t wait to meet my “little”. Unfortunately, our meeting came three months too soon. I was only six months pregnant when I went into labor.  My little’s lungs weren’t fully developed and she survived for less than six hours. It was painful and beautiful at the same time. While we were devastated, we felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend those precious hours with our baby girl. A future blog post will be solely dedicated to my baby girl Sierra RayLeen.  “Great Expectations” was created to celebrate the beautiful experience of becoming a mother; certainly the most amazing experience of my life.

Only “Littles” for a Little While

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This is a picture I painted that brought me back to when my kids were still little (all now in their 20s).  It’s titled “Morning’s Lullaby”, referring to the many early mornings I fed and rocked my children back to sleep.  It was an amazing time.  It’s fun to watch them grow into adults (most of the time…I’m not going to lie, the teenage years were not kind a few times).  Everyone tells you that it happens “in a blink of an eye”; however you truly don’t realize it until your kids are grown.  Right before your eyes, they go from a helpless infant in your arms, snuggling into your neck, into a grown-up with children of their own.  My kids are adults, and grandchildren have helped ease the melancholy moments, but my children will always be my babies.