Today my husband and I set out to prove that we have lost our minds.
Just kidding. Well, not entirely. You see, today we took our 2 year old son to a professional juried art show.
We are members of the De.troit Insti.tute of Art.s because we have always enjoyed visiting the museum to view the exhibits, attend the lectures, listen to the live music, watch the independent films at their film institute and just generally soak up inspiration. We took our son there with us once when he was about 3 or 4 months old. That visit went just fine, but since he’s gotten around to walking and talking, we haven’t dared to attempt such a trip again.
Our parish is hosting a professional juried art show this weekend. We’ve been looking forward to the event for months now. Saturday, during the day, was “family day.” Since we really would like to instill in Junior a love of the arts, especially sacred art, we took our 2 year old to an art show.
He was so excited to go as we were leaving this morning. The entire drive there he kept repeating over and over “I going to a art show?” And when I say the entire drive there, I mean every moment of the entire 20 minute drive he was saying some variation of just that. He was especially excited to see his MaMaMa and PaPaPa there as well. (MaMaMa and PaPaPa are my parents.)
We had planned ahead that maybe being there with fewer people would help keep him from becoming too overwhelmed. So we got there at the moment the doors opened for early admission. Junior did pretty well for a 2 year old. In fact, I would say he did pretty well for a 4 year old too. He was interested in the art; looking at the paintings and talking about what he saw, asking questions about why it was raining on Jesus in one picture, or why Jesus wasn’t wearing his shirt in another. “Why is that mama crying?” “Look at the family!” “Why is he in a tree?” “A birdie flying.” “I wanna hold the baby.” “Why he sad? I give a hug.”
There was a high school art competition where the attendees could vote for their favorite piece. We voted by placing little pink tickets into the envelope hanging nearby the artwork. There were paintings, sculptures, photographs and mosaics. Junior looked at all the pieces and decided on his own for which one he wanted to “boat”. He kept saying he wanted to vote for the “orange” one, but we couldn’t figure out which one that was. We pointed out 2 different paintings we thought he might have been referring to, but neither was the one he wanted. Eventually, he settled on a beautiful mosaic of Our Lady. He was so proud of his “vote” as he placed the ticket in the envelope. Both Mr. Amen and I also chose the pieces that most spoke to us and we let Junior put our tickets in their respective envelopes. Mr. Amen chose a gorgeous black and white photograph of a piano’s keyboard. I selected a lovely, earthy, soft peach colored sculpted jar.
The show itself was inspiring. I have never seen such a collection of spectacular sacred art. The styles of the artists were as varied as their mediums. There was truly something for everyone. Many of the items on display were for sale, and I had hoped we might be able to find a beautiful piece for our home. Unfortunately, the prices were beyond what we can afford at this time, so we’ll have to keep saving up.
There were moments it was a challenge to have a 2 year old at the art show. He doesn’t quite have the hang of his “inside voice” yet. Toddlers love to experience the world around them and that includes touching everything they can reach. It was tough for Junior to keep his hands to himself, but we made it through. How else is he going to learn how to behave in such an environment? I figure it’s similar to why we take him to mass every week and why we sit up front instead of in the crying room. How is he going to learn to love, appreciate and participate in the mass if we don’t take him and help him understand what’s going on?
There were two moments that had nothing to do with the art though that stood out to me today.
The first occurred as we were sitting in the concession area eating lunch. My parents were sitting with us talking with one of my husband’s friends. The friend is an older gentleman that belongs to the Kn.ights of C.olum.bus with Mr. Amen. He asked my parents how many grandchildren they have. My mother responded that they have four grandchildren so far. She went on that my brother and SIL have three children and want to have a large family, so she knows she’ll have several more from him. I did manage to speak up and say, “we do too.”
The second occurred a few moments after that when Junior spotted a family sitting nearby with a baby in a stroller. He ran right over and started talking to the sweet little guy. He appeared to be about 8-9 months old with sandy blond hair and big blue eyes. He smiled adoringly at Junior and Junior, in turn, stepped up the charm. The baby he was busy adoring was #7 in the family and his 5 older brothers and 1 older sister sat at the table eating. Junior was enthralled with the sweet baby boy and wanted to hold him. The parents of the baby noticed how interested Junior was in their son and commented on it. Then came the “looks like it’s time for a sibling” comment.
Ah, the famous 1-2 punch. When you’re dealing with infertility, you never know when a stray comment will pierce your heart. My parents know about our struggles, they know about our miscarriage and they know about the treatments we’ve been attempting. I know she didn’t mean it that way, but it felt like she was rubbing it in that he is well on his way to having the large family I’ve always dreamed of and we aren’t and don’t know if we ever will be. Of course, the other family had no idea that we are the NFP teaching couple at our parish, that we are so open to life it hurts. They had no idea how it breaks my heart each time I see Junior loving on a baby knowing what a great big brother he’d be. Not many 2 year old boys ask for a baby and my heart and uterus ache when he does.
St. Anne pray for us. St. Philomena pray for us.