The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I'm an Artist -- PLEASE Let My Daughter Be Something Else

Whenever people tell me how artistic my four-year-old daughter, Olivia, is, I instinctively think, “Anything but that.”

Maybe during the Renaissance, when artists had patrons and kings commissioned portraits; cathedral ceilings were blank canvases, literally, and manor houses had wall space to spare. Or even during the WPA: Sure it was a Depression and everyone was hungry, but at least the government was keeping a handful of muralists and photographers gainfully employed.

But to be an artist today is to suffer.

No job security, no career ladder, no 401(k). While everyone else is socking away a retirement, the painter is scrimping to buy art supplies and the writer is saving for a laptop; the performer is maxing out his credit cards to take classes in singing or acting or dance.

Unless one is lucky enough to be born into a trust fund, or marry a rich and generous spouse, all artists face a future of too-small apartments, necessary day jobs and daily, unending compromise. Why would I wish that on anyone, much less the girl I love more than any other in the world?

I spent ten years in New York City chasing my own artistic dreams. I wanted to dance on Broadway or at least in regional theater and write the Great American Novel on the side.

Instead, I slept on fold-out sofas in other people’s living rooms and supported myself as a legal proofreader on the night shift; I walked everywhere to save on subway fare and discovered that you could eat cereal for months on end and still survive.

By the time I woke up, exhausted, at thirty, everyone else I knew was married and living in the suburbs, a baby in arms and another one on the way.

But Olivia is sensitive, and I see that.

“Look at the moon,” was her first full sentence, as she patted a spot beside her on our front steps and pointed to the sky. “See pink” she said as the sun was setting. Once I observed that a shade of blue crayon looked happy and she nodded as she rolled it between her palms. “There are so many blues that are sad.”

Olivia is adopted so she hasn’t inherited my genes. But she’s my daughter, with the soul of a poet.

By Jessica O’Dwyer

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Oh, this is so good. I love the last three sentences. I have a feeling the arts will be good to the two of you.
We all want our kids to be spared disappointments. But she may find a way to follow her dreams and make a living. Who knows what she may accomplish? The world is changing and I want to believe that one can live happily while following their dreams. Meanwhile my stepdaughter wants to go to medical school and I wish she would pursue her art! Go Olivia!
That is so wonderful! How cool to grow up with a mother who is an artist as well.
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