The Mother Garden

© Durga Yael Bernhard

I’ve decided to dedicate the whole month of May to images of mothering. I was a new  mother myself when I painted this picture in 1989. After a long, hard labor, the late November day when my son was born was probably the greatest day of my life. But as I adjusted to new motherhood, it took a while for the enormity of the responsibility to sink in. Grown from the very flesh of my womb, my baby continued to grow from the soil of my influence. Everything I did affected him so deeply. Like many new mothers, I lived in almost constant fear of hurting him by accident, either physically or psychologically.

As the months went by and winter turned to spring, this image began to form. Rooted in maternal flesh, this childlike tree grows, reaching upward toward – and beyond – his mother’s face. A baby’s first love is his or her mother. It’s also the first experience of trust – thus the mother holds her child firmly, guiding her upward, allowing her to expand within the confines of her protective garden. From the very beginning, the child’s destiny is to reach beyond that garden. His tender young leaves are already receiving light directly from the sun. Birds of fancy alight in her branches, singing of the world at large.

The mother spreads her protective mantle around her child – but it is only a matter of time before he will grow beyond her garden. But for a little while, a few precious years, the mother garden is a safe place for her child to grow – a sweet embrace to run to, a small world to explore. Knowing it would affect my son’s whole disposition, I tended my garden – his garden – with all the love and wisdom I could muster.

How precious and fleeting that time, when my children were little!  Surely, those were the sweetest years of my life.

The Mother Garden is available as a greeting card or poster from my webstore. Fill in the blank with “Name of image” near the top.

A good week to all!

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of:
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN –  A Benjamin Franklin Design Award Finalist;
a 2015 Finalist in USA Best Book Award’s “Children’s Religious” category
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
THE JEWISH EYE 2018 / 5778 Calendar of Art
– and more!


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