Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Feast of Mother Love

By Matilda Nimke - Pastel on Paper - After Original by Mary Cassatt

In another lifetime, I collected prints depicting mothers and children, particularly nursing mothers. For many years this assortment added warmth and meaning to the livingroom of our home. Then my mother, originally trained in fashion design and later a painter for her own pleasure, presented me with this copy of a Mary Cassatt pastel. It was a birthday gift intended for my collection of 'mothers'. It is a treasure. My mother is well but is no longer able to take pleasure in her art. The necessary planning and attentiveness to task is no longer within her range. I used to tell her, "Clean less and paint more." The walls of my parents' home display many of her works. My mother is with me still in life and also in her art.

My collection of 'mothers' served to remind me of the intensity of motherlove. The images idealized those moments of pure joy, of a mother's oneness with her child, of the act of intimate nurturing and of the miracle of life. At times there was a stark contrast between those warm images and the reality of raising three sons as a single parent. As I receive cards from my sons and grandsons honoring me on this holiday, I am brought back to those moments of high contrast; those moments of anger and frustration, of words that would have been better left unsaid. I want to ask forgiveness for those moments. I want to say, "I am sorry for the times I let you down or hurt you. I am sure those times have left a mark."

My only consolation is that just as mothers have the ability to forget the pain of childbirth, children seem to have the ability to put aside so many parental failures, to make allowances for lapses in loving and patience and understanding. And in adulthood seem to gain an appreciation for the big picture and find it in their hearts to forgive the human frailty of their parents. For this I am so very grateful.

May your day be blessed as you rejoice  

in the gift of motherhood,

privilege and responsibility without equal.

Let us be thankful too

for all who have mothered us.

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