Art Therapy: Understanding Single Motherhood Through a Child's EyesChristine Coppa
There are moments when I know JD realizes he doesn’t have an active dad. He asks if we can call him or he says “I don’t have a dad” or “Mommy, you’re my mommy and my daddy.” (Admittedly, my fave phrasing.) But, there are moments when I find him to be completely oblivious to the fact that dads in a general sense exist. I struggle with the pros and cons of this tricky equation. On one hand, it’s sad that JD doesn’t have a relationship with his dad, who is healthy, educated, married and parenting another child in Indiana. But, it’s also kind of glorious that he’s cool with our modern fam and recognizes that he’s being raised and championed by a village. Only what happens when he refuses to see the dads in that village? Take this morning…
I told him to draw me a picture while I took a “speed shower” before work. I left him in the living room at his little blue and green wooden art table and turned the shower on. The bathroom filled with steam and JD set to work. I pressed my hands against the tiles and let the hot water cascade down my body. I do my best thinking in the shower. I cry in the shower. I am at peace in there. It’s my only solitude, my quiet oasis. Within minutes I was out, towel wrapped around my dripping body. I walked into the living room, but was stopped in my tracks.
“I’m not done, Mommy!” JD said. I went back to my room. After all, I know that an artist does not like to be disturbed when working. I pulled on a pair of coral skinny jeans and a simple grey tee. I peeked my head into the living room. My little blond boy was crouched over a pad of paper; crayons were all over the table and it looked like they fell from the sky. He was in the zone. He gets this from me and I dig it. I put my makeup on and sipped warm coffee. I picked out shoes and loaded my snacks for the day: a Greek yogurt, protein bar and cubed watermelon. I’ll buy lunch, I thought as I peered into a basically empty fridge. It’s been a lazy a*s week, I admit. I pulled JD’s green, packed lunch sack from the fridge.
“I’m all done!” JD yelled. He stood up and looked down at his work. He looked satisfied. I know that look. He studied the page. From a distance, I just saw red, green, blue, yellow. I knelt down next to him. “Tell me about this beautiful picture,” I said.
“It’s a house-car,” he said. And it looked like a house on wheels, really. “This is Aunt Katie and Baby Charlie,” he said pointing to level 1. “This is you and me,” there was another floor above level 1. “This is Aunt Lissy and Baby Rocco. This is my family, Mommy.” I stared at the image and then at JD. He had a proud look on his face. He looked like he knew it all. I don’t have a dad and neither do they, but they do.
I live in a new condo complex. My best friend and JD’s godmother, Katie, lives on the second floor with her husband (a firefighter named Jay) and their 4-month-old baby, Charlie. My other best friend, Liss, lives on the fourth floor with her husband, Rocco, and two-year-old little Rocco. I didn’t ask JD why he left out the dads. He is friends with Jay and Rocco. They are wonderful men. I wanted to ask. I wanted to pry. I let it go. Moms and sons on the road of life (re: house with wheels) was the theme, I guess and it was a gorgeous picture. A picture of friendship, love and family. One where mom and son live in harmony. The picture was bright, happy and full. And it’s all JD knows. And this has pros and cons. He drew the gals with their boys. But the boys have dads. They are not absent. But in JD’s pic they were. I’ll overanalyze this for many, many days. Sniffle. Aunt Liss says: “It’s just a cute pic. Relax.”
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