I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH FANTASY…

The Millennial Mom series explores the undercurrent of everyday suffering caused by ego and our unconsciousness regarding illusions. This tale is told in four parts: Myth, Descent, Darkness, and Light.

I. MYTH

We unwittingly pursue happiness through perfection and the validation of others.

Millennial Mom smiling with her four children.
Superkids = Supermom, 2017, oil on canvas, 101.6 x 76.2 cm, 40 x 30 in
MM deep in concentration, doing paperwork at a desk.
Millennial Mom Reports to Government HQ, 2016, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 101.6 cm, 30 x 40 in
Millennial Mom frowning as she performs a push-up exercise.
Millennial Mom Battles Mediocrity, 2017, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 121.9 cm, 30 x 48 in

II. DESCENT

Life is not what we thought it was going to be. We feel alone and afraid, and to blame, for we are somehow not good enough. We run from our pain, and try to numb it out.

Millennial Mom on the cover of Vogue magazine.
I Have a Problem with Fantasy, 2017, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 91.4 cm, 48 x 36 in
MM wet vacuuming a flooded basement.
Millennial Mom Battles the Dungeon Demon, 2016, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 121.9 cm, 36 x 48 in
MM gazing in wonder at a Batman-like man.
I Wonder if I Would Feel Safe There?, 2016, oil on canvas, 61 x 121.9 cm,  24 x 48 in
MM, hands on hips, contemplating a row of minivans for sale on a car lot.
Sigh…It’s No Batmobile, 2017, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 121.9 cm, 30 x 48 in
Millennial Mom stoicly sitting outside a surgery room, with cleats and a sports jersey on the floor beside her.
Millennial Mom Wrestles the Demon Fear, 2017, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 101.6 cm, 30 x 40 in

III. DARKNESS

Our resistance to what is.

Millennial Mom's face, eyes tightened in frustration.
I Didn’t See This Coming, 2017, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 121.9 cm, 48 x 48 in
Millennial Mom, on floor, in distress.
Thy Will Is Hard, 2018, oil on canvas, 61 x 91.4 cm, 24 x 36 in
Millennial Mom's face, gazing down, in pain.
I Wish I Didn’t Have to Be the Strong One, 2016, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 121.9 cm, 48 x 48 in
Millennial Mom defiantly brandishing a caulking gun.
I’m Not a Princess, 2017, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 91.4 cm, 36 x 36 in, SOLD
Millennial Mom crouched on the floor in rubber gloves, scrubbing tile.
This is Not a Fairytale, 2017, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 91.4 cm, 36 x 36 in

IV. LIGHT

Only in leaning in to our suffering does our grief transform into the final chapter, where awareness and compassion lead us to find peace, acceptance and love.

Millennial Mom, teary and holding a tissue to her face.
Forgive Me, 2017, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 61 cm, 30 x 24 in
Millennial Mom, on her knees, gazing down in defeat.
Millennial Mom Surrenders, 2017, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 121.9 cm, 48 x 48 in
Millennial Mom, gazing up into night sky.
Ask. Let Go. Listen, 2018, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 61 cm, 36 x 24 in
Smiling, happy family including Millennial Mom, husband, and four children
Loving Can Hurt, 2017, oil on canvas, 61 x 121.9 cm, 24 x 48 in
Millennial Mom sitting cross-legged, eyes closed.
Millennial Mom Battles Monkey Mind, 2016, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 121.9 cm, 48 x 48 in
Millennial Mom, her head and shoulders, directly gazing at viewer.
Love Yourself First, 2018, oil on canvas, 91.4 x 121.9 cm, 36 x 48 in
Millennial Mom's hair blows in the wind as she watches a beautiful sunset.
There Will Be an Answer, 2016, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 152.4 cm, 48 x 60 in
Millennial Mom's head and shoulders, gazing in the distance, wind blowing her hair.
Dream Bravely. Go After What You Want., 2017, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 61 cm, 30 x 24 in
Millennial Mom cuddling a smiling bespectacled child on her lap.
May You Be Safe and Protected, 2017, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 91.4 cm, 48 x 36 in
Millennial Mom's face, smiling brightly.
Our Playing Small Does Not Serve the World, 2015, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 61 cm, 30 x 24 in

MORE ON MILLENNIAL MOM

I originally thought this story was about other things. I thought it was about the emotional struggles and loneliness of marriage, when the “need” to earn a large income requires the absence accompanying professional travel. I thought it was about the choice to be a stay-at-home parent, and the painful realization that such a life was very much one of housework, lack of respect, financial strain and overwhelming drudgery. I thought it was about co-dependence, the failure to take responsibility for one’s own life, expecting a partner to rescue and protect one from life’s troubles. I thought it was perhaps about lack of perspective, and how the thoughts we choose can be incredibly destructive. But, it’s really about vulnerability — telling the truth, and allowing ourselves to be truly seen and loved for who we are.

Why is MM clothed as a superhero? In the beginning, as she struggles, she feels she needs to summon the strength of another, because she can’t do it all alone. Her childhood hero, DC Comics™’ Wonder Woman, is her role model, not only of strength, but of purpose, courage and wisdom. Imagining herself as powerful, she too can be a defender of peace and light in her struggle between truth and myth. As the narrative develops, MM becomes her own hero, a symbol of the eternal strength within us all. I also wanted to comment on societal pressure toward unreal ideals, as well as our mass turning-away from religion, leaving us with no source of strength to guide us in how to live, resulting in our searching for ideals in popular culture.

Drawing on settings and events from my own life, as well as references to popular music, fashion, and self-help and superhero cultures, I have attempted to lighten the narrative with humour, to acknowledge that although there is real pain here, these are the problems of the fortunate.

Most of the time, I recognize all pain lies in perception. If only I could maintain such awareness. I don’t have all the answers, but I am trying to be a better person. I continue to seek enlightenment, and wrestle with ego, with vulnerability, and with myth. With humility, I admit I am responsible for creating as much pain as I have felt myself. I trust divine guidance, as I seek understanding, with an open, and unguarded heart.

Millennial Mom’s story will not resonate with everyone, and may be misunderstood by many. But I hope you will look beyond my lack of technique here, to enjoy her. I love her deeply, as she represents the strongest, and most vulnerable parts of mothers everywhere. May you, too, find your way toward peace.

Darlene Baker

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