A funny thing happened to me when I started to travel abroad at the age of 15. It was not something that I gave much thought to but happened quite naturally as a means of survival. It was the insatiable curiosity and power of observation. Sometimes I watched, learning new things that I wanted to be a part of my life while other things I have struggled through as I tried to decide what they meant.
I have noticed a lot of differences over the years, some big and others small, but there is one thing that transcends all boundaries, all languages, and all nationalities. It knows no skin color, no income, or age. It does not go out of fashion or need an ounce of cultural translation.
I noticed it in the South African bush as a young mother carried her baby on her back, wrapped with tenderness and care. In a bustling Beijing street, I saw a mother hold her child’s hand as she taught her about crossing the road. I have seen it countless times in suburban USA when moms proudly stand and cheer for their little athlete or bring roses to shower upon their daughter who spent an entire year rehearsing for her recital.
In Italy and Greece, moms came to the table with plates full of food, prepared as a sure sign of their unending affection while in Morocco moms doted on their children, spoiling them with kisses and care. In Paris, a mother stared lovingly down at her baby in her pram, not even noticing the rush of people coming and going from the crowded metro.
I could not always speak the language and oftentimes, I was simply passing through. But I did not need a dictionary or any type of translation for what I saw because a mother knows that look- the one that she cannot escape or tear from her heart because it is intertwined into the fabric of her existence.
We live in a world where so often we focus on the differences between one place and another. Sometimes there are wars and things that happen that are so incomprehensible that we all feel like running back to our own safety net and never venturing out into a world that feels far too tricky. But then I have also experienced first hand what no war, no atrocity, or terror could ever dissipate or diminish and that is the love a mother has for her child.
We live in a world that is constantly separating, always defining, perpetually seeking after the things that make us different, but the love a mother has for her child is something that will always unite us, always keep us seeking after peace and holding on to understanding. There is great strength in a woman’s heart and I am absolutely convinced that a mother’s love knows no boundaries.
Perhaps you have experienced a mother’s love as well through your own mother, with your own children… or even on a crowded street in a foreign country?
Photography: Jack Fussell for Flying House Studios