Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day: Mothers and Creativity

This past week, I graduated from college. For the first time I have a degree in hand, and a future ahead of me. What that future will bring, I do not know. But that will be for another post.

I am an Alison Bechdel fan. For those who don't know, Alison Bechdel is a lesbian cartoonist who has written two graphic memoirs: Fun Home and Are You My Mother? These memoirs concern how her parents influenced the choices that she would later make, namely the choice to not settle down and conform to society as well as to become an artist.

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Are You My Mother? was a surprise this year, and a difficult read because it focuses on psychoanalysis and child psychology. I will probably reread it with a psychology textbook in hand to understand the interpretations completely, but one common element emerged from the narrative: the mother-daughter relationship, with art influencing its direction. I found myself relating to Bechdel's narrative, because I am an artist as well, and I have a similar relationship with my mother. Granted, I am not a prominent cartoonist and I still live at home, but my mom has had a strong influence on me.

My mom is a doctor, a teacher, and a role model. She raised five kids on her own after my father died in 2001, pushing us all to excel and to love one another. She allowed me to buy my first watercolor set and brushes in the eighth grade, which still serves as my main set for today. Even though she doesn't understand most of my comics, or any high fantasy fiction, she allows me to write and draw these tales by supporting me. She has encouraged me to take a more sensible path but hasn't pushed me to enter law or medical school. For that, I commend and thank her. Thank you, Mom.

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Like my mom, Alison Bechdel's mother had to keep a crazy household together. She put her academic career on hold to raise three children and acted in various plays, satisfying her talents and need to perform. She does not approve of her daughter's comics, though more out of disapproval than confusion; she says as much in the first twenty pages of  Are You My Mother? Yet she provided financial support for the younger Bechdel as well as the information needed for writing the memoirs, like photographs and love letters. Without such information, Fun Home would not have the contrasting, handwritten fonts or detailed recreations of decades-old pictures. True love is allowing someone to explore their passion, to explore the deep caves that you would not explore, and Bechdel's mother has certainly conveyed that love.

Once again, thank you, Mom, for letting me grow into a writer. Thank you for pushing me to work hard in school and develop homework ethics. Thank you for reading a fantasy short story that I wrote in high school and offering points of critique, so that it won second place in a local competition. Thank you for the watercolor set that I keep close by on my desk, and thank you for the time that I have to paint.

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