I went to Washington D.C. with my mom during my sophomore year in high school. I'd managed to wheedle money from the school board (I'd won a Scholastic writing gold award thingy, and I promised I'd wear T-shirts from the school district and say only wonderful compliments about my education if they'd help me get there), and I didn't have near as much time to see the sights as I wanted to. In fact, between ceremonies and such we barely got to run by the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian. But I managed to visit the National Gallery of Art three times, because they featured a collection of paintings by Mary Cassatt.
Mary Cassatt is an amazing woman. Born in 1844 (on the day before my birthday!), she struggled for many years against the educational limitations society put on women. Determined to be an artist, she taught herself what she needed to know, and eventually joined the Impressionist movement. Her recognition of both motherhood and creativity inspires me, and she's always been one of my favorite artists.
Here's one of her most famous paintings:
I like others better, however. Like this one:
After talking to one of my friends the other day, I felt frustrated at how little stay-at-home moms are appreciated. Anyone can become a parent, but not everyone can be a good parent, and there's a lot of condescension involved in many people's responses to mothers who stay home. I like how Mary Cassatt captured some of the quiet moments in parenthood, and I love her genius at painting. I don't know why I want to write about her today--I guess I think she should be remembered, and honored, and I'm glad I got to see her paintings all those years ago! She's an example to me still, a model of independence, perseverance, and excellence with texture, color, and subjects who need to be seen.