Last summer I found a new favorite painting. I mentioned it before, but have never come back to write about it. Because life gets in the way. But I have been teary thinking about it this week leading up to Mother’s Day, as I have been contemplating the “elongated arms of motherhood.” Bear with me while I explain.

I found this painting at the National Gallery in London on our first MFMP trip, a “ripple” from my own mother’s MFME gatherings for all these years.

Oh, I loved all the other art in that place, especially sharing it with my girls and hearing their favorites. But at some point during our exploration we all got separated, following our hearts to paintings that spoke to us.

And I found myself in front of this one:

“La Maternite” by Pablo Picasso

Oh it is SO beautiful to me! Something about it spoke to me and I leaned right into it. After all my art history studies and learning about Pablo Picasso, I had never seen it before. But it immediately wrapped deeply into my heart. I stood there in front of it, all by myself, my eyes welling up with tears.

Three things I love about this painting

It is called “Motherhood” (“La Maternite”) and there are three main things I adore:

  • I feel like the mother’s face is a mirror of mine on repeat as I have mothered my children over the years. And oh how I can imagine it on my mother’s face, and my mother-in-law’s too as they each raised nine children.
  • Her child’s face is so beautiful. So oblivious to any danger or love that mother is protecting from. Nestled in peace and safety of those mother arms.
  • My very most favorite are those arms. Elongated to wrap fully around her child. She is going to keep him safe if her life depends on it. That’s what motherhood is all about. Whether you are a biological mother or an aunt or friend or

Elongated Arms of motherhood

So I titled this post as the “elongated arms of motherhood” because as I gazed at that painting I couldn’t help but think of all the mothers who have gone before me. My ancestors. The mother love that ripples back for thousands of years to get me here.

Right now.

Did they ever realize that as they were raising their children, most probably donning that same look of concentration as the mother in Picasso’s painting, they were setting up future for my grandmother. For me. For my children and their children?

Their arms are literally elongated reaching forward to all their posterity.

Oh that is so powerful.

I know my children will have that look as they maneuver the hills and valleys of their own motherhood. Sometimes they will come across deeper valleys than I have ever met. How I hope they can hold onto the gift of motherhood given to them by their ancestors.

Gratitude for ALL the nurturers

I picture that face of the mother in that painting on all women who seek to lift and nurture and love. Motherhood is such a universal way to minister and lift those around us. It takes so much concentration and deep-digging. So much connecting and muscle tension. Oh and it is just so incredibly beautiful to me.

I know motherhood is complicated sometimes. To find balance. Where does your heart end and your child’s begin? How can you let go of the inevitable failures and hold tight to the connections you work endlessly to forge? How can you nurture when you yearn for that biological gift, when you are yearning to love and cradle your own? How can we nurture each other? Strengthen the feeble knees?

There are so many things I do not know.

But I do know that when I look at this painting I see the faces of all kinds of mothers to be honored.

Mother is a verb.
It’s something that you do.
Not just who you are.

Cheryl Lacey Donavan


Other Mother’s Day Thoughts:

Similar Posts

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *