This past November we took Giles to see Coco at the movie theater. He was eighteen-months-old at the time. This past Saturday Giles went to see it again, at a special screening with his Nana and Granddad. He came home talking all about it, now twenty-two-months-old. He said what sounded like, “mama me,” a bunch of times and at first I didn’t know what it meant. But then I realized he was talking about the song from the movie, “Remember Me.”
This song makes me think of my mom. Know that I’m with you the only way that I can be.
I learned it on ukulele so I could play and sing it for Giles, and for myself. And for my mom.
Next November we have another baby due. Four wheels on the car. I’ll take her/him to the movies too.
It felt really good to talk about what I do. I’m proud of my life, and it’s validating to be interviewed on a radio show and have someone besides me refer to me as an Artist. It’s important to remember that I work, and it’s good work, even if it’s not a “regular” job. It’s a “real” job and I love it.
My mom and I used to discuss our lives as artists all the time– how we balance time/money/desires and manage the business side of art. I loved talking about that stuff with her. I don’t get to talk about it that much anymore. Not the way she and I would talk about it. I’ve never found another art friend like my mom, and I don’t expect to.
I miss her.
I wish she could’ve been with me on the radio today, talking about her art life. I can’t really talk about mine without talking about hers too.
My dad and Giles listened to the show from the lobby of the station while we were broadcasting. Julia played a couple of my song recordings, one of which was the “Giles Fox” song. My dad held Giles up so he could stand on the floor in front of the radio, and he danced.
Even in utero my baby loved music. When I played ukulele or guitar, the instrument pressed against my belly, he’d kick and roll. At a Bruce Springsteen concert he went nuts during Because The Night.
Yesterday I was playing around on the ukulele while Giles jumped in his bouncer. His face lit up watching my fingers on the strings and the sounds they produced. Using three simple chords I started making up lyrics, singing to that smiling face. Somehow I wrote a song. And then another one.
They are simple, and recorded on Garage Band during nap time (you might be able to hear faint crying in the background):
In many ways my creative energy has been channeling itself into being a mom. Making each day special and fun and productive with little Giles, watching him develop and trying to help him learn things. Surviving (and even thriving?) on way too little sleep. I’ve even been learning to cook new dishes, doing house projects, organizing and reorganizing closets and shelves until finally someday (I hope) the towels/blankets/sheets/napkins/etc. will fit just right and even look cool or whatever. My Life is my Art, and this has always been true but is true in a new way now that I’m a mom.
Once a week I have art time for a few hours while Greg’s mom takes Giles. This is a gift, to have this time. And while a lot of my art is about being a mom, I haven’t found a way to make art with Giles. When he’s older we will do projects together, and I look forward to that. But then I wrote those songs yesterday. I made something, some art, with my baby, and it’s also something for him. He brought it out of me. I had never written a song before, but it’s something I’d been wanting to do ever since I taught myself to play guitar almost six years ago. Giles opened the door.
Having a baby deepens my art in ways I don’t even know about yet.
I’ve been working more with the tiny watercolor set of my mom’s, and one of my favorite things to use watercolors for so far is life drawing. I’ve been drawing with pens forever, I know how they work for the most part, and making those lines of a human body has become familiar and it’s easy to settle into a particular style that I already know how to do. Painting a watercolor nude is a whole new ballgame for me, using lines, yes, but with a brush, with these fast-drying watery lines, and also swaths of color. Sometimes there is more paint on the brush than i realize, or less. I can play with heavier color, lighter color, shading, mixing. Even just the physical act of dipping the brush in water, then in paint, then sliding it against the rough paper is captivating for me. It takes longer, which fills up the minutes of each pose more quickly. I am more engaged in each moment.
And now for a little music: my cover of Rivers and Roads by The Head and the Heart on ukulele: