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November 18, 2007

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a happier girl

I've only finished the first 100 pages but I thought mother love being comprised of pain and love was really profound. Not in terms of the foot binding though. Since becoming a mother, I've discovered that a significant part of the job is letting go. And that's a really painful process. Or at least it is for me. My children feel like they are a part of me. When they were first born it was almost like they were just a continuation of me. But the bigger they get the more independent and separate they become. Eventually they leave us behind. And we're supposed to encourage them to even though every fiber of our being never wants them to leave us. I also think part of being a mother is a selfless love which can also be a painful thing. It's putting what's best for them ahead of what's best for us. It's what enables us to make difficult decisions like the mothers in the book doing the foot binding because they don't want their daughters to end up spinsters. Being a mother is complicated business.

I like the book so far. Lily is just about to get married so I'm looking forward to seeing what her husband and in laws will be like. I also feel like there's something going on with Snow Flower we're not aware of yet.

sarah

as far as the "old sames," yes, i do think that continues today. we may not be matched up in eight, textbook ways, but we do find those that share common interests. for one that married and now lives far away from my "natal" family and friends, i have had many very lonely days. as silly as it sounds, i have found friends through this little blog community where i can discuss things 100% foreign to my husband (the outer realm, haha). plus, his aversion to blogs makes it easy for this to seem like a secret communication venue.

the mother love phrase struck quite a chord with me too. i think motherhood, from it's first trimester introduces a deep love even beyond what we feel for our husbands, but also a pain, a bending as our bodies prepare to carry those children. that love and pain is very obviously shown in childbirth and the consequent healing from it. it continues through the first months when the terror of anything happening to that little being kept me up at night, checking and rechecking to make sure nothing has gone wrong. it continues through the pains of them growing up, watching them fall when they are taking timid, first steps and wanting to just carry them so they won't get scraped knees, but knowing that they had to fall to learn to get up. the painful love is there, in the middle of the night when your little one is sick with fever and you feel helpless, not knowing what to do to alleviate suffering. it is there when they start making friends, when they go to school and you see their tender feelings hurt, but there is nothing we can do to ease that. i don't even want to imagine them getting older than elementary school age and the pains of *gasp* puberty. but i think motherhood is intrinsically tied to and engrossed in the deepest of love, but with the sharpest of pains. i didn't expect that. i didn't expect to worry as much as i do. but i think it's just who we are as caring women.

in introducing herself, lily tells us of memories that she has from when she was five years old, things that she saw in her mother that lasted her lifetime. is that amazing? is that possible? i know i have a terrible memory, but it is really hard for me to imagine being able to remember things from that young of an age, especially things specific to my families characters. i wish i was that deep of a kid... can you guys remember things like that from that age?

ps. i can't imagine bound feet being anything remotely erotic. but to each their own??

sarah

i can't subscribe to the comments feed. i get an error telling me no feed was found... help!

Anne

Sarah,
I will look a the comments feed - is that something I have to activate? Now I really sound stupid.

Anne

Your comments are great and this is why I like book clubs; other people point out things you did not think of. Yes, being a mother is full of so much love, but a lot of pain as well. It's hard to let go, but we have to. It's a love that keeps you awake at night with worry, but keeps you going during a bad day. I knew I would love my children, but I did not expect how intense it would be; almost painful.

I have some memories at age 5, but they are just snipets of random events that for some reason remained with me.

miguette

Whew!! I finally trudged past the 100 pg mark. I usually read in bed and lately I can't read more than a few pages per night before I pass out.

1. Do you think the concept of "old sames" exists today? Do you have an "old same," or are you part of a sworn sisterhood?

I think that the concept of "old sames" can work for some people. I love the idea and I wish there was equivalent in our time. I'm kind of anti social and mostly a home-body so I wouldn't say that I have anything even close to those types of relationships. I envy those who do. I guess my sworn sisterhood is with my actual big sis.


2. The Chinese character for "mother love" consists of two parts; one meaning "pain," the other meaning "love." In your own experience, from the perspective of a mother or a daughter, is there an element of truth to this description of mother love?

Yes. Absolutely. Not pain in a physical sense, but more like a firm hand. Mothers teach with love and with discipline.

3. What do you think of this book so far? Do you like Lily? Do you like Snow Flower?

I am enjoying this book very much. I find it amazing how far women in Asia have come since these times. I'd have to say that my favorite character so far is Snow Flower...not sure why though. Maybe it's her outspoken nature.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest...as slowly as it may be.

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