Friday, December 21, 2007

Mama Always Comes Home

Picture source:
Author/Illustrator: Karma Wilson and Brooke Dyer
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Age Group: All ages

Sometimes the simplest images and simplest words can allay the biggest of fears for kids. Karma Wilson's Mama Always Comes Home does precisely that. Like Owl Babies, it is a soother, a perfect bedtime read to assure, comfort and calm little ones.

In Mamma Always Comes Home, page after page has Brooke Dyer's warm illustrations of various moms who have to leave their young one(s) behind and head to "work". It starts with a picture of a cozy nest with three little birdies and their mother. They are all snuggling happily. But it is time for mama to go fetch the worm. The birdies don't want her to go, and cry in protest. Mama gives them a tight hug and a promise that, no matter what, she will come back. She flies away from the nest searching for worms, but exactly as she promised, she comes right back home to her little ones. They are overjoyed to see her, eat up their meal and snuggle cozily to sleep under mama's protective wings.

The same story, with appropriate changes, is repeated with different animals - a Mama Dog, a Mama Cat, a Mama Horse, a Mama Dolphin, a Mama Polar Bear. They all have to leave their little babies for a bit during the day but they always come back to feed them, play with them, laugh with them, tickle, cuddle, hug, kiss them. The book wraps with a human mother leaving her baby in the arms of another caring adult (the father, perhaps) and driving off to work. But at the end of the day, this mother too comes back to her little one.

This theme hits home in so many ways. My son went through bouts of separation anxiety during his first year, but that was nothing compared to his clinginess shortly after he started daycare. He would cling to me for every minute in the evening and would refuse to acknowledge other family members. I wish I had found this book then. Just to give him some external security. He is out of that stage now, but the book still appealed to to him. Maybe he could relate to it in a way he couldn't communicate.

In an odd way, I found this book reassuring for myself. A working mother carries pangs of guilt in her all the time. No matter how well her child is taken care of, some degree of guilt persists. It was comforting for me to see that even the animals, who pursue, not material, but basic maternal instincs, do have to leave their babies for a bit, but what matters more is how well they bond with the young one when they are united again.

Footnote: When I read the book, I altered the lines just a bit. 'Mama' might imply maternal uncle, so I read it as Amma Always Comes Back and come to think of it, the same could be applied for Dad who "Always Comes home" too!!


Tharini said...

So true. I loved what you said about Dad coming home too. I had picked this out several months ago, but it didn't make much of an impression on WInkie then. Maybe Sathya will have a diff. run with it.

Sheela said...

Thanks Kodi's Mom for this pick - I am putting it on hold to read to Ana... you echoed my thoughts when you wrote:

>>A working mother carries pangs of guilt in her all the time. No matter how well her child is taken care of, some degree of guilt persists

Ana seems fine most days to get ready and go to daycare and stay away all day (afterall she has been doing it since 6 months old)...

but, of late she has gotten a bit clingy, and wants to stay home and play with me (well, being a girl, I play Tea, Doctor etc. with her which she probably misses in school/daycare)...

perhaps this book will help me as much as it might help her to understand the fact that we need to be away for part of the day out of necessity and that it is OK....

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