I remember the child in this photo. I was 6 and in 1st grade. I was asked by my teacher, Mrs. Corpus, to recite a poem entitled “The Beautiful Lady,” and to paint a picture to go along with it. I didn’t want to do it, but my teacher convinced me that I could do it and that I would do well. I loved my teacher and would do anything to please her so I did. She was right. I was so excited that I did it that and I did it well.
I was so happy until … until my own mother asked me why my painting was so ugly. “Why did you paint such an ugly lady?” That’s all it took to burst my bubble and ruin my good spirits. I thought she was fine. I was 6 and I didn’t know any better. I wish I was able to keep that painting, but I found her in the garbage the next day.
It was like that my entire life. A constant battle of not being good enough, not feeling as if I could ever please the ONE person that should’ve kept me safe and loved. I didn’t understand then that sometimes adults hurt, too, and that they could not provide what they never received themselves to another.
Eventually, I learned to become this person for myself, but it took YEARS for me to become the person that 6 Year Old Row. needed. YEARS of self-depreciation, feeling undervalued, unimportant, dumb, ugly … so much damage done. YEARS of learning that I AM worthy of love, of being loved, cared for, and cherished.
I didn’t pick up a paint brush ever again until I was 48 years old because whenever I did, I felt like that 6 year old Row., lost and ugly. What I found when I did is that I’ve had this hidden talent and passion that went dormant and unfound for more than 40 years. So much wasted time! I’m a believer of divine timing though. I know that my rediscovered talent and passion for painting was not meant to be found again until it was the right time. But WOW!
This isn’t a post to make anyone feel sorry for me. I forgave my mom a long time ago. It was hard but necessary. What I went through when I was 6 showed me that I was/am resilient and able to do hard things. I also know that had I remained an artist way back in first grade, that I would not be the person that I am today. I realize now that I was not ready then. I realize now that had I been able to hone my talents then that I would not have appreciated it as much as I do today. Everything revealed in its own divine timing, only when I was ready.
Never kill your children’s dreams. Encourage them. Be their biggest cheerleader, not their worst critic. Be the voice telling them what they need to hear, not the voice that makes them doubt and cry for years. The damage to their inner children is just not worth it and sometimes, if they are not aware or awakened, the damage may be irreparable.
Learning to become that parent you needed when you were small and did not understand is difficult. It feels strange. What’s sometimes difficult is being a loving parent to your own children when you have your own children. Hurt adults, sometimes hurt their own children … all I knew was that when I had children, I would encourage and love as best as I could. I wasn’t a perfect parents. I had my own issues, my own demons. I can only hope that my children understand as I did that I was just a hurt child doing the best that I could.
I wish I could remember the poem. I remember that it was so easy for me to memorize. I searched for it on the internet without success. I remember it was an honor to be asked to recite it. I remember that Mrs. Corpus was my favorite teacher, has been my FAVORITE teacher of ALL time. I remember that first grade was made better because of her. I am sure that my Mrs. Corpus is now long gone. I wish that I could have thanked her appropriately. She made a huge difference in my life and for that I will be forever grateful.
Thank you Mrs. Isabel Corpus of Woodstock Elementary School in Alameda, California. YOU are most definitely The Beautiful Lady.