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The Fine Art of Motherhood

“I just can’t do it!  I’m not good at it!”

For the past six years I have been teaching art to elementary and junior high students. It has been a great experience exploring different styles and media. But in almost all of my classes I hear students say that they can’t do it or that they aren’t good at it. I think it is because in general, people have this view of art as something that should look like a masterpiece that compares to a Michelangelo or a Van Gogh.

I want my students to understand that art is not just the final master painting, the exquisite sculpture, or the sophisticated building — the “art” is also in the process.  

Art is the way you see and perceive the world around you, and the way you choose to express it. In art, you put together what you feel, perceive, and know. However, people still hold on to the romantic idea of art as the finished product and seldom picture the process of actually making it.

I also tell my students that the process of making art is messy! It is enjoyable, fun, stressful at times, and requires lots of hard work. And just as soon as you get the hang of it, you finish the project only to begin a new one… but always building on what you learned and experienced from the previous one.

Finally, I tell them that the word “art” simply means skill. It’s not necessarily something we’re born knowing how to do well. As any other skill, we acquire it, we learn it, we practice it, and we grow in it.  

Motherhood, therefore, is definitely an art form. It is an acquired skill that grows with time, practice and a lot of patience. You must bring together what you know, what you perceive, and what you feel deep inside. And you must remember that the One who created the Art of Motherhood is God Himself. He is the ultimate Artist, the ultimate Parent.

I fear that today we have this view of motherhood that it must be Pinterest-perfect.  

But I believe we find the real art of motherhood in the process, and this process is far from picture perfect. Like art, it, too, is messy, enjoyable, fun, stressful at times, and requires lots of hard work. It is completely unique each time with each child. And we need to remember that if God is the one who created it, then in order for us to understand it, we must connect with Him, The Artist.

A famous art critic of the victorian era, John Ruskin, once said, “Fine art is that in which the hand, the head and the heart of man go together.” The key is found in what you put in your head and in your heart because that will ultimately determine what comes from your hand. It determines not only what you do as a mother, but how and why you do it. Yes, what is in your head and heart matters. Moreover, it is who is in your head and heart that makes the real difference. This brings me to the verse that I believe is the key to the art of motherhood.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” 

Know who your God is.

5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” 

Place Him in your heart, and love Him more than anything else – yes, more than you love yourself, your husband, and even your child.

6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children…”

Knowing God and having Him in your heart will determine what you do. But how can you teach your children what you yourself have not learned? Therefore, intentionally place His Word in your own heart so that you can diligently teach it to your children.

“…and shall talk of them when you sit in your house…”

A lovely rocking chair moment!

“…and when you walk by the way,…”

This image is less lovely, it means as you are out and about, most likely driving!

“…and when you lie down, and when you rise.

This means all the time. Always. Continually. For me it’s more like a wave, with ups and downs, with highs and lows, but united and unbroken.

Remember, your child is a gift – uniquely created by God to be yours. I have four daughters and each one is unique from her sister. Our job as mothers is to know each one of our children personally, and to prayerfully discern the information that comes our way as we connect with God the Artist, and as we continually pray for wisdom.

“For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” – Prov. 2:6

I say with confidence that motherhood is not only art, it is a Fine Art. Being a mother is one of the hardest and most amazing things that can happen to you in life. Yes, motherhood is messy. Yes, motherhood is hard. But one thing I’ve learned along the way: It’s not always about the finished masterpiece, more often it’s the process along the way that matters most to God and to your children. Because the true art of motherhood is in the process. And we’re all in process.

“…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6