Motherhood

This year is a pretty special birthday year in my family. My mom turned 60, her mom turned 90, and I'm turning 30. Looks like I'm not going to be able to continue the tradition of having a daughter at age 30. Ah well. One can't force things! How cool would it have been to have another perfect 30 year gap between Wiebe women though, eh? When I was younger I fully planned on conceiving a daughter when I turned 30 (How I planned to make sure it was a girl, I don't know...), because subconsciously I expected my life to be patterned after my mom's life. And up until recently it has been, for the most part! We both went to Millar College of the Bible, we both were missionaries overseas - and even happened to go to similar locations!


Breaking the Pattern

Mom and I both returned to Canada in our late twenties, but whereas mom found dad and they got married when she was 28, I did not. My 28th year was in 2020, which wasn't a great year for socializing as you may recall! Mom's timeline had always been a sort of guideline in my mind, but after 2020 I felt that I was officially forging a unique path. No more could I refer back to what mom would have done if she were me. I had embarked on a new journey - one which mom can, of course, speak into and help me along, but not one that she's already walked down.

My Parents' Patterns

Growing up it was such a blessing to have parents with so many positive patterns to copy and try to live out in my own life. I'm so glad that mom and dad are both creative and consider it worthwhile to pursue their art of choice. Dad is a photographer, and I often draw inspiration from his pieces. Mom is a musician, a singer, a writer, and a stained glass artist. When I was growing up, music was part of our daily life. It was woven into our family identity. So was faith in Jesus. When my parents were younger, they both chose to study the Bible, and they encouraged my brother and I to do the same.

So faith in Jesus, art, and music were all gifts given to my by mom and dad. Whenever I obeyed them by pursuing my own faith studies, or practicing my violin, or using art to serve people around me, I was better for it.

The Art Work of Parenting

When I was painting this piece I couldn't help but reflect on how parents paint their own image on their kids. It is simultaneously an intentional choice and an inevitable accident. Parents must make impressions on their kids, and kids can't help but portray their parents, because it is with them that the foundation of our life lies. Parents try their best to be intentional about this and paint certain patterns into their kids.

Maybe your parents value education, or being nice, or being good, or being beautiful, or being an individual. Whenever they get a chance, they'll paint that pattern on you as a child, encouraging you towards their goal for you. They might be good "artists," or they might make crude lines or colour choices that you despise. As their child, you'll either let them paint their paint-strokes on you, or you'll squirm away. Eventually you get old enough that you must step away from your parent and their paintbrush and present yourself to the world, messy paint-strokes and all. And then maybe you'll start painting on your own kids!

The idea that I was mulling over was mainly this: that the blessing and duty of a parent is to paint the best painting they can onto their child. The blessing and duty of a child is to submit to their parents artistic authority. But the challenge of the parent is to release their child to alter their work in them and to let them do their own artwork in turn. And the challenge of the child is to take what was given to them, improve it, and pass it on to the next generation as skillfully and lovingly as possible.

This analogy is perhaps a bit simplistic, but the idea that I was mulling over was mainly this: that the blessing and duty of a parent is to paint the best painting they can onto their child. The blessing and duty of a child is to submit to their parents artistic authority. But the challenge of the parent is to release their child to alter their work in them and to let them do their own artwork in turn. And the challenge of the child is to take what was given to them, improve it, and pass it on to the next generation as skillfully and lovingly as possible. It's a true collaboration between unique souls, and it creates the most nuanced, impactful and powerful art of all - namely us. Humanity.

I would be remiss if I left an impression that just because a person - a parent - leaves an impression on their child, that it is good, beautiful or beneficial. People can't expect to copy each other into perfection. We're all too flawed, corrupted, or damaged to be perfect models for the next generation. And they'll be like us, too flawed, corrupted, and damaged to receive the work that is given to them and change it for the better. That's the dark side of painting people in our own image. But there's hope for us! Our artwork can be beautiful. It can be truthful. It can be good.

Ultimately the best way to learn art and grow towards artistic success is by copying/apprenticing under an artist who is better than you. My parents did their best to copy the best artist of all: Creator God. All the good stuff in my life comes from God's influence in their lives and in mine. Ultimately our whole family is counting on God to do the final edits to each of our paintings, and for his image to shine through our expressions as much as possible. We'll get to marvel at how he takes our amateur artistic attempts and transforms them into masterpieces by shining his Light on them. I personally can't wait to see that final gallery show. We'll just be staggering around, marvelling at the beauty all around us - so unique and so real and so diverse, and so personal. I can't wait!

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