Birthdays and New Years are always time for reflection. But a “zero” birthday is particularly thought-provoking.
What a delightful day I had sitting on the back porch with my husband, my sister and brother-in-law and an out-of-town cousin enjoying my favorite crabcakes. Got some very nice presents and, I’ll admit it. Yes, I really like presents. After expressing my glee at something my sister gave me, she commented “You really are Peter Pan, you know. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. You never did really grow up.”
“I Don’t Want to Grow Up” was my favorite song when I was a kid. And now that I’ve had time to think about her comment, she’s right. But I’m not quite sure why.
I’m thinking it’s because I never had children? I can honestly say I never wanted them and don’t regret my choice to remain childless. This was not a popular option amongst friends and family. But I stood in my truth. Having a child seemed like such a crap shoot. Never much cared for babies. I have absolutely no desire to hold them. I probably would have left a child somewhere, remembering days later that something seemed missing. Give me a puppy or a kitten and I’m mush. Never changed a diaper. Don’t want to. As an artist you’d think I could see the resemblance in a baby that everyone else can see. Doesn’t happen. They all look like the last baby I met.
So is it having a child that helps you mature? Do you become an adult with the largeness of creating another human being? Such a huge responsibility? Certainly people who have had children retain their creativity. You have to be creative to raise children. To answer the “whys”.
For a time in my life, I didn’t even like kids. But that has changed. Now I admire their fresh approach, startlingly honest questions, their unrestricted creativity, and their enormous enthusiasm and unbridled energy. As I’ve matured, I realize what a miracle they are (for other people). Now I use my art to connect with them. When I can draw something they like, they become fascinated, involved. When I can teach them to follow the line, I can help them to see differently, creatively. They are in love with my studio. Nirvana. An adult with a whole room full of crayons, paints and paper. And I don’t even mind if something gets spilled.
Perhaps I’ve never grown up because I didn’t have children. Can you be lacking a “mothering” gene or missing the DNA responsible for wanting to have children? Creating with a paintbrush certainly doesn’t require the maturity of parenthood. But, slinging paint on wet paper with passion and joy certainly keeps me wildly happy. On somedays my creativity burns so hot I feel I might be consumed; burning bright like Tinkerbell, hovering above the earth in ideas.
No, I’m not the most mature person you’ll ever meet. My only child is my creativity. And without creativity Peter Pan would have grown up. We have a lot in common.