"It is no small thing, when they who are so fresh from God, love us." - Charles Dickens
When children arrive into earthly life, they bring with them a breath of heaven. Just look into any baby's eyes and you'll know it's true. To be loved by a child is to be loved for one's self. It's a love that heals hurts and changes the course of the world. It did for me. When my eldest was placed in my arms, it seemed as if the room lit up. I knew, without question, that God exists. I felt whole. I was no longer the girl who defined herself by the wounds of a painful childhood. I was Robby's mother.
After that came Bridget and then Brian -- almost too much love for one heart to hold. My passion to be an artist was always trumped by being with them. It didn't feel like I even had a choice. They came first. My career would have to be patient. I agree with Jacqueline Kennedy's observation, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much." Looking back over my life, I wouldn't change a thing. Although being a mother slowed down my painting for awhile, it gave me a much broader range of colors to choose from on my palette. Today, I am able to focus on sharing my creative gifts with the world while marveling at the incredible human beings my kids have grown into.
When my children were little, I used to feel their shoulder blades and tell them they were the nubs from the wings they had before they were born. As angels, they flew over the world to pick out their families. How lucky their father and I were they chose to land here, with us. Back then I never considered this anything more than a tale told to delight. In the here and now, I know better.
In the portrait I painted of Cooper, the quote from Charles Dickens was the perfect addition. Cooper charms everyone he meets.
Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.