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“Bouddha in Western Form”

4 Apr

“… We should not grieve, should we, baby?” said Celia confidentially to that unconscious centre and poise of the world, who had the most remarkable fists all complete even to the nails, and hair enough, really, when you took his cap off, to make — you didn’t know what: — in short, he was Bouddha in a Western form.”
-George Eliot, Middlemarch

I finished Middlemarch a couple of weeks ago, and was amused to find a completely accurate portrayal of new motherhood in it. The heroine’s sister, Celia, is the mother of what she regards as the most remarkable being in the world, and is content to sit and stare at him, to talk of almost nothing but him, and can’t think that anything is truly wrong in the world as long as her baby is safe and happy. She is harmlessly insipid in her new motherhood, and I understand every inch of her silliness.

I laughed when I read this because I’d been calling Mateo “my little Buddha” because of the serenity of his expressions. Honestly, it is quite hard to work on anything when I could happily watch him sleep and talk of nothing but him — how he has begun to smile and outgrow newborn clothes, how he watches me intently and studies his father’s face.

It is a kind of devotion that is difficult to write about — both because it is so consumingly intense and because I know it can be tiresome to people whose existences aren’t anchored to my own little “center and poise of the world.”

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