They say that we can understand our mothers only when we become mothers.
I’m not so sure this saying is completely true. Some time ago I read the book “Una madre lo sa” by Concita De Gregorio, in which, among other things, she tells the different types of mother.
“The others decide what a “good mother” is. The choir. Those who always know what is to be done and what is not. What is right, wise, useful. Those who say “it is nature, so it must be”: you must be patient, follow the rhythms, feel tenderness, dedicate yourself. If you feel yourself sinking, it’s because you are inadequate. If the children do not come, you must resign: do not persevere, do not insist. They say you were not made to be a mother. If you didn’t want them there must be something wrong with you. If you don’t have anyone who wants to have kid with you, it’s because you didn’t find him, you were too demanding, maybe too anxious. How can you want kids if you prefer working. If you get tired you’re depressed, if it drives you crazy you’re a monster … A bad mother. “
Luckily the life, the real one, comes to our aid by finding a place for all things. The stories I read in “A Mother Knows It” speak of these real, real lives and how many different ways there are to be a mother or, why not, not to be a mother. Of how many shadows the perfect love is full, that love between mothers and children, and how many unexpected resources. How many roads exist to welcome what comes, what is there.
Receiving “permission” to feel like a mother even though I have never given birth has given me a strength and an energy that still sweeps me away.
The fact that I never gave birth cannot stop me from understanding a mother’s joy at hearing her son’s first word, understanding the anxiety and pain they feel when their children are in pain or crying.
Of course, maybe the echo of those feelings will never be as intense as those of a mother, but I will always be able to hear them, the feelings like shock waves are coming to me strong and clear.
To this regard, a few days ago I was talking to a “tummy mother” (those that carried and gave birth) who told me how a few years ago, when I was at the beginning of this activity as a family documentary photographer, she had many reservations if not skepticism about my ability to reflect in photography all that range of feelings that “only” mothers feel. But she confessed to me that seeing my photos she had to change her mind because today she can see and feel in my images that affection and those genuine emotions that “real” mothers feel.