Sunday 10 May 2015
Are you my mother?
You will be most relieved to note that this is not another book review. I did far too many of those in April, and you can read them here.
But you are right, this is a book, and it was one of my many favourites as a child. The story is of a little bird that falls out of its nest, and goes on a quest to look for its mother, asking a dog, cat, kitten and cow – “Are you my mother?”
I cried all the way through this story every time I heard it. Sitting on my own mother’s lap, with her melodious voice repeating the words, I got the tragedy. I was strange that way. I still remember the conversation:
“Beverley, are you sure you want me to read this book, you know it’s going to make you cry?”
“No, mommy, I won’t cry.”
“You know it ends well, right? So you don’t have to get upset.”
“Yes, I won’t cry.” Until about page three, that is, when I would weep – increasingly to the end and mostly at the happy ending. Yes, I was a strange child.
I didn't know, and I bet you don’t either, unless you are cleverer than me, that Dr Seuss didn't write this book. It was written by PD Eastman. That is an interesting irony, because Eastman was a protégé of Dr. Seuss, and went on to do screenwriting and illustrating for Walt Disney Corporation and wrote many other books.
Apparently educators don’t think the story is one that is very “suitable” for young readers, and don’t understand its attraction. It could be because it encourages the search for parents based on appearance alone, and with more family members not always looking alike, for various reasons, not only adoption, this can cause awkward discussions, or worse, fears and issues for the child.
The climax comes when little bird, finding a power shovel, asks the dreaded question, then says, with horrific clarity: “You are not my mother! You are a snort! I WANT MY MOTHER!” It ends well, I promise, but there are no spoilers here.
I’ve been thinking a lot about love and relationship. My favourite recent quote on the topic is “Real relationship is to be vulnerable and let yourself be changed by the other person.” This is a paraphrase, but it is attributable to Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian. The more I think about this quote, the more true I find it to be. Those relationships that are real are so precious to us, and they can change us for the better.
So today is Mother’s Day. If you are fortunate like me to have your mother around, find her and love her. But think too about the other people who may have influenced you for the better – you may want to love them back.
Spare a thought too for the relationships that are not changing you for the better – maybe it’s time to call out the snorts, and let them go.
Read another of my rants and rambles: Not my best day