This Cassatt painting has long been a favorite of mine. It’s not one of her most famous works, but it speaks to me. I see a particular peace and calmness about it. You can sense that the baby feels safe, secure and loved.
It’s no surprise that Mary’s paintings focus on the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds of mothers and children. Mary’s mother was educated and very well read, and had a profound influence on her daughter, providing her with an education in Europe. Although her father opposed the idea of his daughter pursuing art as a serious career, Mary’s mother always continued to be supportive, especially during her early struggles as an artist.
Considering her affinity for mother/child portraits, it is ironic that Mary never became a wife or mother, having decided early on that a career as artist and married life would not mix. I’m so glad that finally in the 21st century a woman can both pursue a life passion and have a husband!
I can credit my mother with instilling in me an appreciation for the arts, taking me to plays and concerts as a girl. Thank you Mom for sending me to private education, although not in Europe! For nightly entertainment, in lieu of watching TV, my mother would play piano and we would sing together. It was my mother who taught me to play piano, but I never got as good as she was! There were some duets in the student’s piano book, that I can still fondly remember playing and singing along with her. I only wish she had sent me to real lessons and that I could be a better player now.
I also wish that I could play music “by ear” or at least by memory, but at least I can read music. Give me some sheet music and I’m good to go, which is what ended up happening when my friend Suzy and I entertained seniors this past Christmas Day!
I wonder if my early living room warbling was a premonition of my current love of karaoke? I still have some artistic goals on my Bucket List that I hope to get to do soon. Things that my mom probably would never try herself – like formal acting classes!
What has your mother inspired you to do? At the very least, we can make our mothers proud by being honest, kind and loving. Treat others with compassion and reach out to help those in need. Have integrity. Good character is the best tribute we can give her.
I have a friend, Thom, whose mother’s birthday is May 8, very close to Mother’s Day. Tragically, his mother Ellona was killed in a traffic accident at age 55. Thom never knew some of the circumstances surrounding the accident until a few years ago. A witness told my friend that while still in the car, Ellona was calling out her son’s name. How strong a mother’s love to think of her child in such a time!
Ironically, my mother passed suddenly of natural causes two months later. Thom and I met the following year and I think we bonded when we discovered our mutual loss the previous summer. Both cases were sudden and neither of us got to say goodbye to our mothers. Now, we acknowledge the birthdays of our respective mothers, choosing to focus on their birth rather than their passing.
When I first visited my mother’s burial site, I was amazed to find that right next to her gravestone is a lilac bush. I was comforted to know that she would always have flowers blooming for her. I always liked lilacs and I like them even more now.
Mothers make us feel safe, secure and loved just like in that Cassatt painting. There’s nothing like it. So give your mom an extra hug and kiss this Mother’s Day, because you can.
I miss you Mom.
Happy Mothers Day.