Just before Simon was born, I asked for, and was given, a spot and date to exhibit my paintings.
I naively thought that newborns slept a lot. I was also unaware of how much pregnancy really exhausts me beyond any other kind of exhaustion I've ever experienced, including sleepless nights with a newborn.
A few months before I was meant to bring in my paintings, I admitted to myself it just wasn't going to happen, told the shop owner, and left the dream for another day, when I had a firmer grasp on this motherhood thing or more help at home, giving me time to paint.
And then I was pregnant again. And really really sick. And exhausted again. All. The. Time. With a toddler on top of it.
And then Ben was born. And I had no newborn keeping me up, or busy with feedings and holdings all day. And I have a fairly independent toddler who naps regularly and sleeps very well at night.
Now, I still don't really have a firm grasp on motherhood (but I've gotten good at faking it, and I think I'm a pretty terrific mom), and have the same amount of help around the house as before. But I have time, energy, and grief to work with now. And I needed... SOMETHING... to work towards. Some little way of moving forward instead of just stagnating.
So I asked again if I could show my paintings.
And they said yes. In March if I was up to it.
So I have been working my butt off the last few weeks painting every night and at Simon's nap time.
It doesn't mean I'm OK. It doesn't mean I'm "over it" and have worked through the grief of losing my son. But it does mean I can still be involved in something I enjoy. And that I can still find beauty through the pain (I may or may not have partially been inspired to take the big step of actually committing to do this by an episode of Dr. Who...*). And having that goal has helped me see past the pain and work with it.
It took a lot of thinking and praying to commit to this, honestly. Not only am I so overwhelmed by feelings sometimes that just getting out of bed and making sure Simon is fed, clean, and not in danger of jumping head-first off things is a massive effort, but this would be/is real work. That I am committed to someone else to have finished.
Then there is all this guilt. Stupid, stupid guilt over having free time. Because I SHOULDN'T. I shouldn't have the time or energy to be painting at night or in the afternoons. So while every painting I finish is a triumph, a little "yay me! I'm doing things!", it is followed quickly by the thought "this is just wrong". And working with that takes effort, too, because at first I couldn't do anything because of it. Now the wrongness is changing to, "well, life is just wrong and not how it should be, without my second son, but I can work with it, and through it, and try to accept the wrongness as just a part of a "normal" life".
*I do NOT compare myself to Van Gough. I am a ridiculous amateur who is half decent with a brush, not a master of putting color and light and emotion on canvas.