Posted by: Susan | February 16, 2012

What Claude Monet taught me about raising children with Down syndrome

Last week I went with a friend to the Cincinnati Art Museum to see the exhibit: Claude Monet in Giverny.  Since I will be taking April, Jake and Sam to see this fabulous exhibit I got books out of the library to teach them about Monet, his painting and Impressionism.  I always start by getting books in the Juvenile section with lots of pictures.  This is how I learn best.  Both my kids and I are visual learners.  These 3 are a great place to start.My new purple chair as the backdrop(see yesterday’s post)

When you think of Monet you probably think of water lilies and maybe a Japanese bridge.By the time he painted those lilies he was famous and making money and old.  When he started out he was dirt poor and people thought he was not a good artist because he wasn’t painting what everyone else was painting at the time.  In fact being called an Impressionist was a put down not a compliment.  He painted his impressions anyway.  Another thing he did was paint scenes outside and scenes of modern technology (trains) all things that weren’t being done at the time.  Even though he wasn’t popular he just kept doing what he believed in.  Fast forward a few years to when he painted in his garden in Giverny.  By then he was quite popular (the trains were a hit) and so he started painting scenes from his garden over and over and over again.  He believed that the light in his garden was ever-changing making each of his pictures unique and different.  As he got older he developed cataracts but kept on painting.  Now the pictures were mostly red.  After surgery he was able to see colors again.  At the age of 76 he started painting what some people think is his greatest work, very large pictures of…………….water lilies.  He wanted people to feel like they were actually in his garden looking at his beloved lilies.  Monet kept painting those pictures until he died at age 86!

With all this background I went to see the 12 painting at the art museum.  After spending 45 minutes closely studying the paintings I sat down on one of the benches in the room and saw the painting as they were meant to be seen.  Close up they look like blobs of paint.  From a distance they are breath-taking.

So what did Claude Monet teach me about raising my children with Down syndrome?

I am an artist painting part of the life story of my children.

To see beauty in the daily life of my children.  Each day brings new light to study my children and make them into a beautiful picture.

Painting a picture or raising a family takes lots of time.  You don’t retire, you just keep working using what you learned yesterday to paint what you are working on today.

 Embrace new technology.

Never, never listen to your critics when you believe in your  heart that you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

Sometimes step back and  look at things from a different perspective.  When you do you will see the masterpiece you are creating.

Light changes everything.

Finally, even when there is adversity, just keep painting.

Thanks Claude for living out your passion and teaching me some very important life lessons.


  1. Beautiful analogy!

  2. Your best one yet. As a recycled mom like you, we know that these principles are true with raising all of our children. Now, with years to look back and “reflect” we see how the light God provided along the way made all the difference!
    Good job, Susan.

    Karen F.

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