My mother was an Artist

bekah Guest Writer Leave a Comment

Today, we welcome Sally, our Guest Writer, to our comfy couch where shares her beautiful story of parenting, creativity, and hope. Gosh, I adore her heart and perspective, and I’m thinking you will too.


My mother was an artist.

Maybe to you, this is nothing significant. Or, if you know me, you may think so that’s where she gets it! Or perhaps the opposite (if our styles clash!). No offense taken.

To me, this has had deep significance in my heart, in my life. It’s shaped the way I make decisions like college majors and career paths, what kind of parent I want to be, what kind of woman I want to be.

But maybe not in the way you would think.

You see, my mom was (is) a severely tormented alcoholic schizophrenic. No one has caused me more pain, more trauma, more loss than my biological mother. I moved out when I was sixteen, and cut off all relationship about five years ago.

But, truth be told, my mother was an artist. She specialized in figure drawing in one of her two years in college. She painted a life size mermaid on our studio wall when I was three, one of my only distinct childhood memories. Drawings of people, some in the nude, some of ballerinas, were scattered all over our house. I can remember my mom writing poetry and burning the edges of the pages, in hopes that it would get published.

The art she lacked in was motherhood. If you and I were to sit across each other with coffee in hand, you would hear the compassion and steadiness in my voice when I slowly reiterate, she just didn’t know how to love her kids enough to set herself aside. She needed to know she was loved, so she sought it in drinks, parties, men, and unplanned pregnancies time after time after time. But, we (my brothers and I) were in her way. We were always in her way.

So, when I grew up and apart from my family of origin, anything creative was not in the works for me. Art, painting, drawing, writing…it was all bad. It would make me into a monster I never ever wanted to be like. Art was something for the crude, for the woman who never took care of my basic needs, for the abuser of my heart. It was never a place of safety or beauty. It was a tragic wasteland that was forbidden for me and my hands.

But then something wonderful happened. After three years of pursuing a safe degree in education (I said SAFE not SANE…no doubt super hard. Kudos to my teachers out there!), I decided it wasn’t a fit for me and changed my major to Writing. This wasn’t an intentional, redemptive move…This was more of a decision driven by convenience…My major was English Secondary Education, to graduate faster, I just had to drop the “Secondary Education” part and pick up an emphasis that promised speedy graduation. So, I chose writing. That decision has changed my life forever.

Not only did I fall in love with writing, I started picking up a paintbrush and letting it guide my process of thoughts. I started letting myself feel deep things that could only come through dialogue with a professor on deep, deep topics (my English major pals understand) or splattering color across a canvas. God used something once dormant, a passion stuffed way down deep, to breathe life back into me. He used it to invite me to feel and to enter into the dark places to see where He had healing waiting all along.

I never thought a career in creativity was in the cards for me. It was too traumatizing to consider. But through some unforeseen chain of events, choices, and a simple picking up of the pen, God was able to use something once set aside for a lifelong theme of redemption in my life.


Sally is a worship leader’s wife, mommy of the sweetest gal, and foster child advocate. She strives to let creativity and justice breathe through her relationships, and dreams to move to Nashville, Tennessee (even though she’s never been). The content manager for the Yellow Co. and a letterer by night, you can follow some of her heart’s journey at lettersfromamister.tumblr.com and etsy.com/shops/lettersforscout.com.

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