Frieda's maternal instincts

  • January 6, 2010
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Freida_and_unknown_woman_2
Frieda and unknown girl, October, 1939

Some of you have asked me to post the picture of Frieda described on page 10 of Motherland. Here it is and here is what I wrote:

“On the back of it (the picture) someone had written “9 Okt. [October in German] , 1939. The woman is standing, slightly hunched…with one hand on her matronly hip, and her other arm around a girl of about ten. The little girl looks the way my mother must have as a child. But it couldn’t be my mother, since the picture was taken after she had left for America. This must be someone else’s little girl. A slight camera smile contrasts with the woman’s dark-brown eyes, which look dazed and dispirited. Her small frame leans on the girl, as if she couldn’t stand without the child’s support. She looks slightly confused, somewhat forlorn; she had lost her guiding light, her sense of purpose.

“…But it wasn’t until after I gave birth to my first child and knew something about mothering that I finally understood the picture of my grandmother and the little girl. When her children left, my grandmother embraced another child. Like a female dog carrying a sock, she redirected the maternal instincts that would not be denied.”

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