The parallels of the childhood I had and the childhood I’m nurturing for my own child are constantly in my thoughts. Did my parents manufacture experiences for my brother and I growing up or were they doing the best they could while navigating life the best they could? Could I figure out a “best of both worlds” scenario to guarantee my own child’s healthy perspective of the world? Either way, it’s impossible to predict a child’s perspective of various happenings throughout their development. Retrospectively looking at my own childhood and inspecting various aspects through the lens of an adult has further complicated my outlook on how to go about parenting.
The stress and anxieties of adulthood and fatherhood that coexist with the joys of family life leaves me with a feeling that is complex and difficult to fathom at times. The layering of feelings of pride, love, joy, guilt and exhaustion fuel deep thoughts on time, relationships and perspective. I’m sure most parents and non-parents alike can relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed while trying to attain some sort of goal. Graduating, buying your first home and trying to stay afloat at a job are all very cumbersome tasks, added to supporting (and being supported by) a family -- physically, economically and emotionally.
Throughout the fall semester of 2019, I positioned myself to be a person who has too much to do and not enough time to do it. I did not account for time to rest and I’ve found it difficult to say “no” to opportunities to work an extra shift or help out a friend. Taking 18 credits of classes, working 20 to 30 hours a week at my job and additional hours at two Internships led me to a mental state I’ve never found myself in before. This state of mind left me very vulnerable to being overwhelmed when a childhood friend suddenly died. The feeling that my head is filled to the brim with things I need to do, things I’m trying to do and things I wish I did -- combined with being overly nostalgic and trying to pick out all the best pieces of myself to share with my young family. I wrestled with the pressures of being a good spouse, father, son, friend, brother, student, employee, and person in general -- all while trying to find the energy to just finish my school work and take out the trash.
This collection of work is the outcome of attempting to work through these complex and difficult feelings while also grieving. It includes acrylic paint on canvas with additional mark making with ink and Sharpies. With help from my 4-year-old, Luna, who depicted our family with Sharpies, I mimicked her mid-developmental style, as it seemed the most appropriate way to show where my family is as well as the shakiness of my thoughts at the time.