Hello, Mother

Hello, Mother by Nela Dunato

I normally don't write explanations of my paintings, because I want to allow the viewers to form their own impressions, deep from their own soul and consciousness, not contaminated by my intentions.

But I know this painting will be controversial, so I feel the need to address this.

I don't view motherhood as something romantic and noble. I view motherhood as hard, thankless work, both physically and emotionally.
Motherhood is bound to cause some kind of disappointment sooner or later, especially when you realize that someone you gave life to, and tried so hard to raise as you thought was best, grew up into precisely the kind of person you wanted them not to be.

Realization that the child is a separate human being, with its own free will, values, goals and tastes, which can deviate a lot from what you intended for them, can be painful. Children are not owned by their parents, yet many parents feel that because they invested so much effort and love, they are entitled to have a say in their child's life even when they're grown up, and are disappointed when things don't go as they intended.

Even though I'm not a mother yet, I can see this relationship from both sides. I can feel the pain of mothers who are disappointed by their children — whether it's because they turn out to be drug addicts and criminals, or merely college dropouts and self-employed artists (like myself). I can feel the pain of my own mother who had a different projection of my future — university, stable job, marriage, children — and I seem to be failing her expectations every step of the way.

Our emotions as children are conflicted. You don't want to hurt your parents, but by avoiding hurting them, you in turn hurt yourself. It becomes a choice between us and them, just like years before our own mothers made their choice — them, or us. Does that mean we need to return the favor, or simply pay it forward with our own children?

In any case, the sentence "Whose child are you? You're nothing like me" is never pleasant to hear.

Really, whose children are we? Theirs, or our own?

Who do our children belong to? Are we allowed to have any expectations? I don't know. It's such a deep and layered theme, and I've barely scratched the surface.