THE CHILD CHOOSES THE PARENT

Every time I’ve asked my daughter to pose for me; to be an imprint  for a torso, she’s said, ‘No, I  don’t want to be hanging naked on some wall.” No discussion.  But today I asked again and she said, “I’ll think about it.”

My daughter is a beauty and a person, who from an early age, enjoyed being in her body: dancing, swinging on a trapeze in the backyard, standing on her hands in the kitchen, and eventually doing team gymnastics and excelling on the balance beam.

If there is such a thing as a past-lives, from the moment she was placed in my arms I imagined her to be an old soul who hadn’t been born for a while, so she was going to appreciate being in this present time.  After I got to know her I was sure in one of her more recent past lives, she was a belly dancer. It was the movement of her long sinewy torso and the glamorous way she walked ( yes, as a young girl); in particular, the sway of shoulder and hip and their movement relationship. Her looks are both Ancient and Classic. 

All of this I wanted to capture in a sculpture. But it was no-go.”Not for me,” she said without hesitation.

My daughter has inspired other art: my artist book ”The Sperlonga Story,”  a collaged and painted puzzle book about a mother-daughter holiday in a small Italian coastal town, the same town near where the Sirens sidetracked Odysseus. She was fifteen, ate buffalo mozzarella for lunch everyday, and was the only redhead in the town. During our seven days in Sperlonga, she allowed me to hold her as she floated in the sea. A retrograde week. A farewell to childhood.

Now a young woman, with a job, an apartment, a boyfriend, living in a different city than her mother, she may be missing being near me…or maybe she’s appreciating the work I do…or maybe time has passed and she doesn’t see my work as people hanging naked  on a wall…or she’s less conservative.

I admit I was influenced by mothering advice from a Florida friend who had two daughters and a son, all older than my daughter. This friend preceded me in motherhood. She kept her daughters in line, she said, by being a bit outrageous: playing conga drums in a jazz band, wearing floppy hats and colorful clothes and driving a silver VW. The daughters wanted the opposite. 

My daughter, whether it was caused by residuals from her past life or my eccentricity, was a modest teenager. Thank goodness she didn’t wear cut off jeans, skin tight tank tops and heavy eyeliner and march around Boston looking for trouble. She didn’t date drummers or hipsters but the most normal looking, clean-cut guys. Her skirts were ironed, her cleavage hidden. I often advised her to  loosen up a bit, climb up on her desk in school and howl like a wolf. “I’d never do that. That’s not me.”

We’re each who we are. The child chooses the parent. I got a lovely child and being with her encourages me to tone down and slow down and realize we are all different, even if we come from the same flesh. There’s a lot going on under our skin, under what we present and I capture that essence in my sculptures. 

According to Buddhist philosophy we are not who we are because of our genetic make-up and early childhood experiences. We are who we are because of what happened in our past life and how that past influences our soul mission is in this present life. 

I will keep you posted. Right now I think there’s a 50-50 chance that she will let me catch her atman for a sculpture.

#motherdaughter #artmuse #artistmodel