My pregnant daughter was being drawn by a colleague at a book presentation this weekend and when she was asked if I’d also made lots of drawings of her she answered, much to my embarrassment… ‘NO!’
I tried to explain to everybody that I had made some sketches of her when she was a child, but I still felt terribly guilty that I hadn’t been more productive when she was little, seizing the opportunity of recording those precious childhood years of my only child.
And then I got to thinking why? Why did I make so few drawings of my sweet little girl?
My excuse, which seems pretty lame now, was that as a single mother with the sole responsibility of bringing up my child on my own, earning the cost and also working full time as a freelance illustrator, was that I was often just dead tired exhausted most of the time!
But to be honest that wasn’t the sole reason, for me.
The most nagging reason, when I really think about it, was the painful awareness of my own frustrating inadequacy of not getting anywhere near to capturing, on paper, the innocent beauty and breathtaking miracle of my own child!
To me experiencing my beautiful daughter and the whole fantastic adventure of being a mother was with my eyes, with my heart, with my arms, when I hugged her, and with all my senses, day in day out, which no pencil, or pen, or piece of paper-for me-could ever compete with.
When Lisa and I visited my mother in her cottage in England, we shared the flowery spare bedroom together.
One summer morning in July 1996 I woke up very early and while the birds were singing in my mothers garden, I made little scribbly sketches in my notebook/diary as Lisa slept.
Here are a couple:
And this is what I wrote that summer morning nearly eighteen years ago whilst watching her sleep:
….en dan kijk ik naar haar en ik wil dat het altijd blijft- zij 7½ jaar mijn kind mijn kleine meid, hier gevangen zoals in het tekening voor altijd mijn kleine lieve kind.
….and then I look at her and I wish that it will always stay this way – she 7½ years old my child my little girlie, here captured just like in the drawing for always my little dearest child.