Monday, May 10, 2010

South Dakota, 1986 - A Mother's Day Remembrance

I've posted this image before but it took on a special importance for me this week. On Saturday I went to the framers and picked it up. The guy at the store asked me how I'd photoshopped it. I told him that this was the way it came out. I told him that photoshop didn't exist when I took this picture. I think he had a hard time believing me.

Though I took the picture almost a quarter of a century ago, I never got it framed until recently. That is because this picture has always belonged to Kate. I was seven months pregnant when I took it. I was at my friend, Dan O'Brien's ranch. It was late October. A golden afternoon with a big threatening sky. This would be my last solo journey before my daughter was born. And I would be a single parent for almost two years.

So this was a moment of solitude and beauty. There was something about the way Blackie looked at me. The way he too was alone in that field. Alone in a very big way in the world. I felt that aloneness too. I took the picture, went back to New York, and had my daughter.

I gave her this print a long time ago, but for one reason or another didn't get around to framing it until last month. Now she lives in a small apartment in our house. On Mother's Day I gave this to her. I thought of all the places where I'd been. And where I'd come. Where we both were.

My life - the life of any mother - is completely different before we have a child. And completely different afterwards. It is definitely not for everyone. I recall a friend warning me not to have a child. "It will change everything," she said. "Your life will never be your own again."

This is true and I know it. And this picture - this big sky and golden sun, the black horse alone in the field - reminds me of what life was before and what it is now. Yesterday for example instead of spending the day on the prairie in South Dakota, I spent it at Ikea.

These are just two different places at two different times. And I wouldn't trade either for the world.


  1. thanks for putting into words all the right feelings---i love the picture but i love your words even more---you said everything i felt when i adopted my daughter and now when i am with her----thank you so much again---no wonder you are doing what you do mary ---you are great at it. birdie

  2. Mary, This Mother's day for the first time I found myself alone. Hubby away, and my three daughters all in their lives, so I wrote a poem to my mother, gone 26 years, and thought a lot of mothers and daughters. My life would've never held the glory that it is without the love of my mother and my daughters. Thanks for the lovely essay/blog. Love, Miriam

  3. It really means a lot to me to hear this from you. It's not so easy being a writer, wondering if the words make a difference. I am so touched to hear that they do. So touched to hear, well, that they have touched you...It makes me keep going. It really does.