New Brunswick

'Millennial Mom' showcasing motherhood in the 21st century

An exhibit by a New Brunswick artist shows that motherhood isn't all about hockey trips and housekeeping.

Exhibit is a 'story of women everywhere,' says New Brunswick artist

Darlene Baker with her exhibit, 'Millennial Mom: I Have a Problem with Fantasy.' (Submitted by Darlene Baker)

A New Brunswick artist says her new exhibit is resonating with women struggling to live up to expectations of what motherhood should be.

The "Millennial Mom: I Have a Problem with Fantasy" exhibit opened this month in Moncton.

Darlene Baker, the woman behind the series, said she came up with the idea about five years ago.

"I was sort of in that midlife area of my life. I was just feeling some dissatisfaction, I guess, with how things were turning out," she told CBC's Shift: New Brunswick.

"Life just wasn't what I thought it was going to be, and I wasn't happy."

Baker says the idea came to her after she began feeling dissatisfied with her own life. (Submitted by Darlene Baker)

As she did some soul searching to figure out what was missing, Baker said she noticed something: many other women were going through the same thing. 

That's when she decided to begin expressing her feelings through art.

"It all just came together, all these images that were a little bit funny, a little bit sad, and very true," she said.

The mom depicted in her artwork evokes images of Wonder Woman, but with a twist. Instead of saving the world and fighting bad guys, she fights the everyday trials and tribulations of being a mother — along with her own inner demons.

"I do use my image for some of them, but tried to use different faces as well, because it's not a story about my life," Baker said. "I wanted it to be a story of women everywhere."

Baker's artwork challenges the notion of being the 'perfect mom' — balancing work and life, having a beautiful home, and being fit. (Submitted by Darlene Baker)

Baker isn't a millennial, but she thought the name was fitting because she became a mom herself at the turn of the century.

The oil-on-canvas works are divided into four different chapters: MythDescentDarkness, and Light

They follow Millennial Mom as she chases happiness and perfection, balancing work and life, being fit, and keeping a nice house.

Ultimately, the character doesn't attain perfection, but instead gains awareness, compassion, and peace.

"This is really a story about ego, about us thinking that we have to control our lives, and that we're not good enough until we're perfect," said Baker, adding that she's had a bit of fun with the pieces as well.

"I tried to introduce the humour because it's silly. Ego is a silly, silly thing, and I wanted to reflect that. Plus, I think life should be enjoyed."

Baker says she sometimes uses humour to poke fun at the silliness of ego. (Submitted by Darlene Baker)

Baker said her life journey has changed in the same way as her character's, and she has also been able to find some peace and understanding.

She said the exhibit, which has already been shown in Saint John and Fredericton, has been a hit with women.

"Knowing that it's not just them ... it's a universal story of this kind of suffering that goes on," said Baker.

"And it helps them. It helps women to feel better about how they're doing, and what is required to to be happy in this life."

"Millennial Mom: I Have a Problem with Fantasy" will be on display at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton until Oct. 29.

About the Author

Alex Cooke

Reporter/editor

Alex is a reporter living in Halifax. Send her story ideas at alex.cooke@cbc.ca