Tuesday, July 28, 2009

BUG LIFE: Parenthood

oil on linen

I have the greatest respect parents. Never took the plunge myself, although I have been mom to two German Shepherds, two cats, one rabbit and presently our Chocolate Lab, Devlin, the Wonder Dog. I learned the hard way that that level of responsibility is about all I can handle.

When I was sixteen, my Mom wanted to make sure I was employed over the summer and toward that end, she accepted a job for me that I will never forget. Our family dentist and his wife, also a friends of the family, were planning a trip to Europe for the summer and wanted to leave their toddler son with someone they knew and trusted. Before I could object, a crib appeared in my rather cozy bedroom, along with a huge box of toys, clothes and diapers. Little Douglas moved in on a Saturday. I wanted to move out the following Sunday. Without knowing it, my mother had effectively put an end any hope she had for becoming a grandmother. It was the very worst summer of my life. The responsibility of a ten month old was something I was completely not ready for. I was depressed, tired, resentful and cried all the time. As we all know, a teenager isn't wrapped all that tight anyway and little Dougie pushed me right over the edge. He was simply adorable and I took very good care of him, but when his parents returned home and retrieved him, I knew motherhood was not for me. Even during my trial marriage, when it was decided we'd produce offspring, I shut down and never discussed it again.

Are the caterpillar parents rearing up, bursting with pride over the little one they're hovering over or are they overbearing and impossible to please? Are they patient and loving or angry and withholding? Are they teaching the little one how to take care of himself or are they teaching him to depend totally on them? I see both sides, good and bad. They did the best they could with what they knew at the time and I'll be forever grateful to them. I rather like how I turned out.


  1. I think this is my favorite yet Suzanne. The commentary AND the painting. I choose to believe that the parents are arguing what profession the kid will go into and the kid is dreaming about joining a band.

    That's the wonderful part of your painting. The viewer can always put their own spin on what is happening.

  2. Another great bug painting.
    But having had three teenagers each a year apart, my theory is-they're debating about dropping him off the branch, or the sill, or the tomato.Whatever.

  3. The bugs are back! Love this, Suzanne!

    Personally, I think they are fighting over how to parent and are thereby showing the worst example of parenting by arguing in front of their child. He/she...will undoubtedly grow up to be a very controlling Butterfly and have massive therapy bills.

  4. Your bug art is so unique. And beautiful. Having survived raising two wonderful girls and now with six grandchildren, I have the g'ma perspective: They are saying simultaneously, "OHHH, His first drool! He's the cutest little doodlebug in the whole wide world!" and waving their little -- hands?-- in glee.

  5. Wonderful! And the story too. Some of us are simply not cut out for motherhood. The only victims of my mothering are my two dogs. In our household, these two caterpillars would be saying, "What are we supposed to do with this?"

  6. Fantastic...spot on compostion, amazing use of color...you amaze me.

  7. This is the first time I've seen your paintings and drawings. Wonderful! Love all the bugs! Your comentary on parenting is so interesting. I'm not crazy about kids, either, but I had two of my own and they turned out to be delightful human beings. I'm so surprized! Parenting is simple--just raise 'em right...and let 'em go! Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. A beautifully composed and rendered painting, and psychologically riveting as well. Your storytelling skills are awesome as well. I felt like I was right there with you and the toddler, and feeling your pain! I think I would have run away from home right about then.

    Really enjoying the takes from parents and non-parents alike...I'm going to stop back again and see what the next visitors say.

    (...and THANKS!! for your wonderful comment on my blog! You made my day.)

  9. I love your bugs! I have been watching for a ladybug all summer and haven't seen one here yet.

    I read your story about taking care of the 10 month old...makes me wonder if his mother didn't feel captured by him too. Kind of unusual to leave a 10 month old for that long.

  10. Wow, what a profound post (as well as fabulous painting!). I never "took the plunge" either; having had a very distressing family life as a kid myself, I believe made me realize deep inside that it wasn't going to be for me.


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