About the Artist: Jennifer Van de Vooren
“I can’t do this. I am not a mother. I changed my mind. I can’t do this.
I just want to go back to the way things were. I want my old life back. I can’t do this.”
These were the calmer thoughts I had as I held my little crying baby in my arms in the middle of yet another sleepless night, months after he was born. I had thoughts that no mother “should” have. They really were horrible, but I just wanted a break from the endless exhaustion, demands and hopelessness. I definitely didn’t want anyone thinking I was crazy and that I couldn’t take care of my own precious little baby, because I really did love him. So, I didn’t tell anyone. I suffered alone and kept going. Luckily, I didn’t actually do anything to hurt either one of us.
My first baby is 8 years old now and his little brother is 6. I came through that traumatic first year worn down, exhausted, and changed forever; when I became a mother was the instant that I turned into an adult. I surprised myself with the strength and perseverance that showed up so that I could get through a time that felt like I was going to war every night. It also jerked me into an appreciation for my own Mom that I never really had before. In an instant I realized all the sacrifices she made, how much she gave of herself, the little things that really equated to big things, and the unwavering amount of love that she always had. Once I became a Mom, she became a different person in my eyes, and so did every other woman - the soft, quiet, persistent inner strength based in love that has the power to change lives, open hearts and accomplish mighty things became blatantly apparent.
Thanks to that treacherous first year, I have become a better mother and person; someone who knows she has greatness in her and that collaboration is so much better than going it alone; someone with compassion and empathy and the understanding that even the happiest looking people may be the ones who need help the most.
I started painting abstracts a few years ago and every painting ended up being inspired by lyrics or virtues that reflected the kinds of characteristics that I admired in other women and wanted to embody. I wasn't looking for a cause to latch on to, I just followed my intuition and ended up with these wild paintings. I can’t help but think that none of those paintings would have emerged and that I wouldn’t be where I am today without having gone through those heartbreakingly tough times. I have passed with flying colours and I want to celebrate. Not only for me, but for every woman giving her best and changing the world one kiss goodnight, one conversation, one delicious meal, one painting at a time.
I now have a healthy, happy, amazing life rich with gratitude and imagination – a husband that would walk through fire for our family, two little boys that have the spirits of angels and Tasmanian devils, and a network of friends that are connected right to my heart. When I’m not painting I love to travel, relax at the cottage, do photography or learn anything new.