Being a parent is a bit like being an artist. A sculptor. An artist starts with a raw material. The material is molded, shaped, softened, or the edges made more jagged. The artist has a vision of the end result, but cannot change the core material. Wood cannot become stone.
At the end, there is a creation, but it no longer belongs to the artist. The sculpture goes out into the world, to be gazed upon by others. Influence by the maker may become minimal.
As a parent, my children are my creations. My only goal is for them to be self-sufficient adults. Their happiness is not my goal, because I cannot create happiness for them: they need to discover it for themselves. Self-sufficiency implies that they have learned to navigate the mechanics of the world. Self-sufficiency implies that they can think and make decisions for themselves. Self-sufficiency implies confidence in themselves.
I also read this quote: “The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.” I try to model the art of living for them.
A sculptor may have an awareness of her last project. It might be carefully planned, lovingly crafted, knowing that it is the ultimate creation. She may take the time to lovingly work her hands over the materials, making absorbing through mental awareness the feel and the joy. A sculptor who suddenly loses her hands is robbed of that final experience. She did not know that her last project was her last.
I never thought that Quentin was going to be my last child. While he is a sculpture all on his own, if I had known that he would be my last, I would have spent more time memorizing the baby smells. The elation of first steps. The pride of first words. I still do not know what the future holds, but if I’d known, I would have approached my final creation differently.
“People sometimes as me if I feel as if my sculptures were my children. I do not. The love I feel for my children is unique in my experience. Nothing is comparable. But it occurs to me this morning that they too are transformations of secret, silent resources similar to those out of which [my] sculptures emerged.” -Anne Truitt