Love Is Our Mother

An analysis of (what can be) the purest love of all
June 6, 2024

A mother’s love is peace. If a mother’s (or mother-figure’s)  love shows up in its truest form, it is the only love we don’t have to strive to earn or attain. It is constant. It is dependable. And it comes so easily. Self-love, soul mates, kindred spirits, soul sisters, and all other such loves…. None are quite as unconditional as the truest form of love from our mother.

 

After his mother passed away, Salvador Dalí commented with such tender insight: “this was the greatest blow I had experienced in my life. I worshiped her… I could not resign myself to the loss of a being on whom I counted to make invisible the unavoidable blemishes of my soul.”

 

The special, affirming way that Dalí’s mother saw the entire him is fortunately the way I feel my mother sees me. In Dalí’s, as in my case, this kind of love is freeing. As a 45-year old adult woman, I can (AND DO) show my infantile capricious spoiled manipulative selfish ignorant abrupt impatient annoying and annoyed self (the list goes on, but I’ll stop right there) in the presence of my mom. I can be and show all those facets of me because I KNOW in my heart that she knows my heart. I can because she makes me feel loved and adored unconditionally. And I can because she gives me the opportunity of that freedom. No other love that I know allows me that, at least over time. 

 

I began thinking of the subject after my 4-year-old daughter, Sofia, and I spent the afternoon watching the CGI version of the classic tale of Cinderella. It was an easy Sunday, but not not so easy for Sofia while and after watching this movie (twice consecutively). She’d already watched the CGI versions of Beauty and The Beast and The Little Mermaid, and she’d most certainly already watched and re-watched an exasperatingly countless number of times Cinderella’s original 1950 animated version. So, of course, she was thrilled (as was I, given its magnificent cast—Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Robb Stark–-and director, Sir Kenneth Branagh).

 

Although this version of the tale stays quite true to the classic version, it does give a glimpse of Ella’s (Cinderella’s) life as a baby and young girl, which the original does not. We get to witness her good and virtuous parents and the blissful existence she has before their demise. We witness, in this “real life” version, Ella with her fatally ill mother and the deep sorrow they feel as they hold each other tight, right before she passes away. As refreshing as it may have been for me to watch the backstory on Cinderella’s life, it was something of an unexpected trauma for my daughter, Sofia. She was visibly shocked to see a loving tight bond like that suddenly shattered to pieces when Cinderella’s mother passes away (her father’s passing is less visual and was a bit more obscure to Sofia). 

 

For the entire rest of the film (and while we re-watched it a second time and for the rest of the evening and next morning to present-day), Sofia repeatedly asked me as to the whereabouts of Cinderella’s “mamá.” She’d look insistently into my eyes for consolation… that her mamá was still there, that her mamá was going to show up sooner or later. To say she was greatly distraught doesn’t come close. I was a bit hesitant at first but finally I responded, cautiously, that she had died. Oh, mother of mercy, what I was about to witness, and learn. 

 

NOT a single other aspect of Cinderella’s unfortunate life thereafter distracted Sofia. She was much too much preoccupied with the lack of presence of Cinderella’s mom. NOT how mean her vain, vile, vapid stepsisters were to her; NOT her stepmother’s ice cold cruelty (although I must say the great Cate pulled this off so elegantly well); NOT when they bitterly changed her name from Ella to Cinderella, or when she had to drag herself up flights of stairs to the old dusty attic she’d been banished to; or NOT even when she was locked in the attic against her will. 

 

And NO distraction so whimsical or beautiful or sparkly or magical derailed her attention from the death of Cinderella’s mother either. NOT the comic relief and imaginative magic of her fairy godmother (so amusingly played by Helena Bonham Carter), NOR the gorgeously-embroidered jewel-toned dresses worn by her stepsisters, stepmom and all the maidens at the ball (and princess dresses are quite the obsession with Sofia).

 

This incident shed beams of light on the tremendous role of “mother” to a child. It’s been said the most important person in a child’s life is the figure of “mother’ (of course, a strong personality within the family can take on more importance to a child than that person’s supposed role. But for the sake of this discussion, I will refer to the traditional role of mother.) Typically and traditionally, it is a mother (or mother-figure) who, from pre-birth and immediately afterward, is most concerned and intimate with them. As her child grows, she may spend more time with her child (or less time due to work or other duties) but this will never take away her place of honor in their life. Fundamentally, a mom just needs to prove to them that she, their first and most constant life companion, is consistently trustworthy, reliable, affirming, encouraging, and warm. 

 

Sir Kenneth Branagh’s version of Cinderella is a beautiful love story. But for me, it was richer and more emotionally-involving than I was expecting. In my case, it revealed a completely different kind of love story, that which I have with my daughter (and that which I have with my mum). 

 

It may be said that in this version it is Cinderella who rescues the Prince. And its ending encourages me to believe this was quite intentional, and fitting for our times. But my experience watching this movie with Sofia had me take away something very different. It made me realize I am here for Sofia if and whenever she needs me. It made me realize I don’t need to be overly insistent or preoccupied or indulgent. But that what most matters is that I am Affirming. Encouraging. Warm. And There. Her human pillar. 

 

I also took away another significant truth. That when someone we deeply love passes away, that person continues to be with us. Their love continues to nurture, fill and embrace us. Forever, within our hearts. 

 

Also, thanks to this film, I know Sofia’s little (but GRAND) heart and mind even better now. 

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