This is one of my most favorite photographs in the whole wide world. The mother in the wheelchair is my grandmother and the newborn she’s holding is my mother.
Three things strike me about this picture.
First: They made women ride in wheelchairs after they were discharged from the hospital over sixty years ago? Geez louise.
Second: My grandmother looks more beautiful than any woman should be allowed so quickly after giving birth.
Third, and most importantly: There is such joy on my grandmother’s face at becoming a mother again. My mom was her third child, so my grandmother knew what lay ahead: The sleepless nights, the washing out of diapers by hand, the crying, the worry, and all the rest of it. By the third kid you know what you’re in for.
But you don’t see a whisper of those things in the picture. My grandmother is smiling, holding her daughter protectively. She’s happy, thrilled, to be a mother.
This is a picture of my mother and I, right after she came home from the hospital with my sister. Looking at this picture, you see another woman filled with such happiness at becoming a mother again. (You also see a woman who has a firm grip on her oldest daughter’s arm to ensure that she doesn’t overly love the new baby, but that’s besides the point.) The joy, the joy that is right there on my mother’s face is what’s important.
This is a picture of me after giving birth to my third child. I look a little more tired than my mother and grandmother (at the last minute, Eden chose an untraditional form of exiting) and I’m much less coiffed. But the joy of being a mother is there for all to see.
One day I hope to add to this legacy of motherhood with pictures of my daughters and their babies. I don’t know if they’ll be as well groomed as my mother and grandmother, I don’t know how many babies they’ll have, I suspect there will be hospitals and wheelchairs and much subduing of older siblings. But one thing I can absolutely guarantee is that there will be joy. And lots of it.
Happy Mother’s Day.