Sunday, April 7, 2013

What is Unsaid

So I'm slowly letting my family know of my plans to stay home and take care of my kid and try to start up my illustrating/art business from there. My Dad was enthusiastic as all get out, although I cannot remember the exact details of the discussion. Conversation bounces around a lot because we all have ADHD in this family and we cover a LOT of topics in a short amount of time. But the general tone was not one of negativity, as I recall.
The first time I tried to tell my Mom, she assumed I meant when I said I was leaving my job that I was talking about the recent trip out to PAX East in Boston, so the conversation moved over to that. Something about the fact that it didn't literally mean to her brain what I thought it meant sent off warning signals, so I just went with it. Not huge "OMG abort!" signals but... you know... I made note of it.
The second time, I just flat out told her, then followed it up with the happy news that I was going to be focusing on producing and selling my art while staying home with the kids as a way to provide supplemental income. It was something I had always wanted to do, and I was excited about it.
A few seconds later she says "Maybe you could get a part time job to help out with expenses."
And I explain that's what I'll be doing with the painting and drawing and what not.
At which point she persists in declaring that I could MAKE MONEY at a part time job and that Bob would probably help out watching the baby, etc., etc....
And in that moment, I reminded myself of what was always pretty obvious... nobody actually thinks I can make a living off of painting and sketching. At least... Mom didn't.
There was a previous conversation last year where we were talking about move moving in to the arts and she said "See, I always told you it was good to aim for that goal, don't you remember me telling you to keep aimed at it while working at other stuff?"
Nope. What I actually and precisely remember is being told that I should train in the sciences because art was not a realistic goal, and that it would only ever be a hobby. From my dad? I heard that I should go to journalism school to learn to be a writer.
(Watching the slow death of printed news makes me not regret one whit ignoring his imploring that I do that.)
That is not to say that my Mom is not a sweet and awesome person. We went on to have a great conversation about how she loved being able to stay home with us as children, and of what I could expect for the first little while (needing help cleaning everything). I am just struck more and more as I get older how often her thoughts on "reality" have come rattling up to the surface and I realize.... that stuff just doesn't work in my world or with my Confluence Of Events In General.
It also makes me wonder how much I have let myself be limited by things I picked up subliminally from my parents.... or how I decided not to get in to things because my father loudly and derisively declared it to be "incredibly stupid" or "asinine". (He declares anything that he doesn't distinctly like assinine. If he doesn't understand it, it's asinine.)  I have multiple childhood memories of trying to talk to my Dad about things I thought sounded cool, only to have him bite in to me and tell me I should be interested in something else instead, and it was stupid to want to know about X if I didn't know about Y.
....and he is wrong.
Yet again, my father is not a horrible man. He gives to charities, he's very active in his church and community, and I have just as many happy memories as kids as I do sad ones. Maybe more, if I were focusing on those instead of when I was knowledge cock-blocked by my parents as a kid.
So here I am, already with the thought in my head that I am 10 years behind others of my generation in getting my shit together, and I realize that my original perceptions about my family not believing art was a viable living were 100% true. I don't believe for a second that they didn't believe in ME, they know me and they know if I want something I will fucking do it. I think they bought in to the idea at the time that I would end up starving and unappreciated and maybe cut off my ear and send it to a boyfriend in a misunderstood gesture of love.
I am, more than anything, mad that I was so un-introspective as to realize these prejudices before now, and to realize that I could get around them and that it was actually WITHIN MY POWER to just ignore what everybody else believed and go for it. Blindly leaping at things with nothing but a warp core of passion has actually gotten me through quite a few things. Constructing our compost bin without following the instructions earlier today, for instance. It looks dandy.
Going forward I'll be listening more intently to what is said, what is not said, and hearing what people are saying when they aren't speaking. I had thought I was pretty damned good at this, but apparently in my exhaustion and general anger over my job situation, I had let that entire skillset slide. I'm bring breating and observing back en force.
You should try it. Smile, nod, but don't think about how you want to respond. Just listen to what they're saying, watch their body language. Note their word choice and what they specifically DON'T say. You'll learn far more about a person doing that then by engaging them on one hundred topics of interest, I assure you.
Meanwhile... I'm off to see Evil Dead with the spouse. Following that I will be painting with my watercolors experimenting with some new styles (I have never tried mermaids before, but I wanna!!) and maybe do some figure sketching. We shall see. I love that hte possibilities are wiiiide open for me these days. ^_^

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