People making people
When I was first diagnosed with endometriosis, I spent a lot of time in online forums focused on the disease and on infertility. I was looking for clues about what my body was doing, trying to grasp what it all meant.
In those wanderings, I came across quite a few women who complained of everyone else’s baby pictures on blogs and sites like Facebook. These women felt that people should use warning labels of some kind in order to allow childless friends to decide whether or not they were feeling strong enough to view those images.
At the time, I thought that their reaction was extreme to say the least, but, a few years into my endometriosis journey, I get it. Even if I know better, some days it really does feel like the world is conspiring to force babies onto my eyeballs and into my emotionally overwrought brain.
But, even though I now understand where those women are coming from, I also get that the world can’t be forced to protect them. The world is full of people, and of people making new people, and of people wanting to share about the new people they’re making with the people in their lives. Nothing will ever interrupt the baby love and the images that come with it because nothing will ever interrupt the love that humans have for themselves.
And that insight is just one of the reasons why I’m grateful to have Madeleine in my life.
Madeleine is Oliver’s mother and the genius behind the eighteen year commission, the plan to paint her son once a year until he is grown. Having this little boy’s face and his whole personhood on my brain all the time centers me. It keeps me from going off the infertility deep end.
Though I still struggle with all the baby images that seem to throw themselves at me, painting Oliver gives me the sort of perspective that only art-making can.
The act of painting is very physical, and it focuses me in a way that nothing else does. In the studio, I am reminded that Oliver and other kids may be babies, but they’re also people.