Mothers and their children

Mary Cassatt is famous for her many paintings of mothers with their children. This is one of my favorites though. It shows that until children are about 3 or so, they have absolutely no use for oppressive social mores like “wearing clothes.” No! Clothes simply slow them down and hence must be shed! Also, I would note that this makes them much harder to catch, as they streak away, leaving clothes and mirthful giggles in their wake.

And though it seems like this chase may never end, eventually, it does. I think the mother in our painting gave chase for a while, but realized that she couldn’t catch the little cherub, not in a foot race anyway. So, she simply sat down to her work. Soon after, the child spots her mother being still and instinctively desires to be with her in that stillness. So, she climbs into her mother’s lap. The child still has no use for clothes of course, but the mother accepts her all the same.

The mother quietly continues her work. She spent 9 months quietly going about, continuing her work, moderating her movements to rock the child within her. She will not have not forgotten these movements. Before, she was able to rock the child with both hands free, but now she uses one to hold the child’s hand in hers. Soon, the child and mother become in sync again, as they were before, with breaths, and hands, and heartbeats.

Finally, she’ll put the child down, and put back on the clothes so gleefully discarded earlier. She wonders if the child will still have them on when she awakens and runs from her room. It won’t matter though, the mother accepts her either way.