My friend Jenny used to say the minute she walked into a museum her feet would start hurting. I thought this was hilarious until we walked into the Houston Museum of Fine Arts Impressionists exhibit.

“My feet hurt,” my daughter said.

I exhaled. I’d read The Conscious Parent. And thrown it against the wall, as one does. I’d also mastered the fine art of shutting up when you’d rather scream.

We pressed on another four feet. My daughter collapsed on a bench, apparently parched. Flashing our tickets, I grabbed an audio gizmo that detailed the paintings by talking right into your ear!

“Technology,” I beamed. She declined, resembling a baby sloth born into captivity.

I gasped at a Mary Cassatt painting. A mother and daughter. The ease of the brushstrokes. The comfort. I could feel the warm water. The mother’s touch.

An audible groan penetrated my back.

It was not unfamiliar. My mother had loved poetry, and I’d shot eye-bullets into her when she read Emily Dickenson aloud. Years later, I fell in love with poetry. I remember thinking, why didn’t anyone tell me about this?

“How much longer?” my daughter asked, pulling apart a split-end while beneath Claude Monet’s famous Valley of the Creuse, 1889.

From across the room, a vermilion painting pulled me through the crowd. Lemons against a Fleur-de-lis, 1943, by Henri Matisse. I felt tears prickle. Cheesy joy bubbled up inside.

This painting made me want to write, soar over the Andes in a glider, and forgive every leaf blower on a Saturday morning.

I turned, longing to share.

She was focused downward, picking her toenail polish. Pablo Picasso’s Woman Seated in an Armchair, 1941, watched over her. My girl was her own masterpiece.

You can’t push art any more than you can rush a sloth.

Outside, the sunshine cracked my daughter wide open as she ran towards lunch. My feet hurt, I thought, chasing her shadow.


Cate Berry is a children’s book author and mother of two based in Austin, Texas.

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