Today’s post is written by the lovely Melissa Face, author of I Love You More Than Coffee: Essays on Parenthood. She is sharing an excerpt from her collection which is all about celebrating the every day joys that our little ones give us.
Mommy Van Gogh by Melissa Face
“Draw,” says Evan, my nineteen-month-old. His tiny hand grasps the red crayon and moves it back and forth across the lined paper. I clap for him, tell him he is doing a great job, and his round face lights up. He is proud. “Draw. Draw. Draw,” he repeats.
Evan continues marking the paper with the red crayon and I keep reinforcing how wonderful his artwork is. And it is wonderful. Evan is my firstborn; so, by nature, everything he does is just …wonderful.
Then, Evan does the unthinkable. He takes the red crayon and the notebook and shoves them both in my direction. He looks at me with hopeful eyes and says, “Draw, Mama.”
“Oh no,” I think to myself. “I was afraid of this.” I have dreaded this moment for a long time. I am terrible at art. I have always been terrible at art.
In elementary school, my classmates skipped down the breezeway when it was time for art class. I hung back at the end of the line and walked slowly. Less time in class meant fewer opportunities to embarrass myself with another horrific creation.
Throughout the years, I painted, sculpted, and drew as required. And since it was elementary school, I was given a passing grade on my creations. I brought home numerous stick figure drawings, paint smears, misshapen globs of clay, and papier-mâché distortions. And like any good parent would, my mom and dad praised my artwork and displayed it somewhere in the house.
I remember making a butterfly in Bible school, a candle at youth camp, and a cloth heart at mission friends. My parents lovingly placed each item on the desk in their study. I shuddered when I walked past their little desktop gallery. I knew I wasn’t an artist.
I am in my thirties now and little has changed in terms of my artistic abilities. I have not progressed past a stick figure drawing, and I still cannot cut out a heart shape from a folded piece of paper.
But today, my toddler wants me to draw. He INSISTS that I draw. So, to avoid letting him down, I pick up the red crayon and begin. I draw a smiley face. Evan laughs. Then, I draw a sun in the corner of the paper. Evan keeps smiling. “Draw, Mama,” he repeats.
I get braver and attempt one of my trademark stick figure people. “Da-Da!” he squeals. With a little more confidence, I draw another stick figure next to the first one. It has a triangle dress and long lines of hair. “Ma-Ma!” Evan squeals again and claps his hands. Clearly, my drawings are better than I thought.
This is not as unpleasant as I feared. In fact, I am starting to have a little bit of fun. I draw a picture of our dog, Tyson, beside the two figures. “Horsey!” Evan shouts.
For the next few minutes, Evan and I engage in our own version of Pictionary. I attempt to draw something that he recognizes, and he shouts out the object’s name. Sometimes I am successful, and sometimes I fall short. But regardless of the quality of the finished product, each of my attempts is met with an appreciative giggle or squeal.
Today, I am an artist.
I know now that I do possess a little artistic talent. I had just never met with my ideal audience until the other day. I am meant to draw only for the non-judgmental, inexperienced, and completely open-minded toddler. My work is meant to be displayed on etch-a-sketches, magnadoodles, and coloring books… all…throughout… my home. I am particularly creative with stickers, magic markers, and of course, red crayons.
I am an artist. I am Mommy van Gogh.
Author of I Love You More Than Coffee (Mascot Books, September 2020)
Facebook & Instagram – @MelissaFaceWrites
Melissa Face is the author of the award-winning collection I Love You More Than Coffee: Essays on Parenthood, published September 1, 2020. Her writing has appeared in numerous local and national publications, including Richmond Family Magazine, Charlottesville Family Magazine, Tidewater Family Magazine, ScaryMommy, Motherscope, TheMyrtle Beach Herald, Guideposts, Country Woman, Farm & Ranch Living, Prairie Times, Boomer Magazine, Sasee Magazine, Nine Lives: A Life in Ten Minutes Anthology, Parhelion Literary Magazine, and twenty-five volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul.