This is re-posted from a year ago. It’s one of my favorites.
I think of myself as a pretty laid back mom, and by nature I’m not a yeller, so years back when my oldest daughter returned from art class with a portrait of me looking like a screaming maniac, I was sure there must have been a mistake. She took the class with three friends, and there was some confusion over whose portrait was whose. Three were of serene smiling mothers, and then there was this. One of the other moms actually was a yeller, so I knowingly looked around the group and told them I though there was a mix up. My daughter cleared the air by confirming that it was in fact her portrait of me yelling about the messy playroom. Of course as I slunk away I told her I loved it, and commended her on her originality. I sincerely meant both compliments, but a part of me caught the first glimpse of how she saw me through her child’s lens, and I had to laugh. Sure I am a laid back person, and I swear am not a yeller, but many a mom has caught herself losing her cool at her kids about something, and then thinking “who is this raving lunatic the kids are turning me into? This is so not me!” This portrait just may be my favorite piece of artwork that hangs in our home; it forces me to laugh at myself every time I see it.
I was harder hit a year later when in the same week my daughter brought home a family crest where I was represented by a mop and pail, and my son brought home a cute Mother’s Day card where he finished the sentence “My mother loves to…..” with “wash the dishes“.
As disheartening as these depictions of me were I knew that they were completely honest, innocent assessments. I thought back to how I viewed my own mother as a kid, and from what I remember, I was only vaguely aware of her as a woman outside of her role as my mom. The first time I recall feeling deep pride and admiration for her accomplishments was when we were writing the text for our wedding invitations, and I realized that as a Ph.D. her proper title was “Dr.” not “Mom”. I guess it took me a while, and still it wasn’t until after I had my own children that I could truly appreciate her in full. I can’t expect my kids to see me other than through the paradigm of their childish inner world. Most kids by nature are egocentric creatures. Most of the time my kids perceptions of me serve as moments of humility, but they can just as easily put me on a pedestal like no one else can. I have to laugh at the truth in their observations, because no commentary is as candid as a child’s. This recent portrait of me by my youngest son is a new favorite. Here he managed to capture the essence of me in the morning with perfection. Certainly this is how I feel before that first cup of coffee. The funny ones are my favorites, but every now and then a piece of art comes home that just melts my mommy heart into a puddle, and that is the power of kids art.