I’m writing a piece on art and motherhood. It will not be an exclusively positive portrait. Being a mother for 23 years have displayed a multifaceted picture, I’m trying to capture some of this complexity in my text.
Today my research led me to two fantastic findings, to Andrew Solomon and Irene Lusztig
Andrew Solomon spent 10 years interviewing more than 300 families with “exceptional” children. That is, children with “horizontal identities,” a term he uses to encompass all the “recessive genes, random mutations, prenatal influences or values and preferences that a child does not share with his progenitors.”
Solomon got to know families of individuals affected by a spectrum of cognitive, physical or psychological differences: “They are deaf or dwarfs; they have Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia or multiple severe disabilities; they are prodigies; they are people conceived in rape or who commit crimes; they are transgender.”
Tolsty said: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Solomon says: “The unhappy families who reject their variant children have much in common, while the happy ones who strive to accept them are happy in a multitude of ways.”
Two projects by Irene Lusztig has caught my attention, they are called The Motherhood Archives and The Worry Box Project . Both projects have to do with maternal anxieties and worries. They thematize common, universal worries of giving birth to a child with special needs, just like any of those Solomon have been talking to.
In The Worry Box Project, Lusztig invites visitors to her web-page to add their own worries to a wonderful Worry Box. It’s a beautiful way include the audience. By sharing our worries anonymously we become part of a collective of worried parents. But we also get to see the beauty of caring, to see all the love that floats from parents to children. Seeing our personal worries and troubles being mirrored in a larger group can, I believe, also have a kind of consoling effect for some of us.
The link between Solomon & Lusztig has to do with parenting. Being a parent, aware of any- and everything that can go wrong, is so frightening that it is a miracle that we dare to become parents at all.
Still some of us do.
Just to discover that some things are just as hard, even harder, than imagined. We can never be fully prepared for every eventuality.
We have to let go, to follow in the steps of Theodore Roethke: