It was always a mystery to me why the churches of Ireland were filled with women, and empty of men. I looked up at the crucifix and thought it was a bizarre thing for women to worship a man in a church run by men. As far as I was concerned being a Catholic was silly, and being a Jew meant so much more washing-up. What all religions do, however, is what most political systems fail to do — they prize and praise the figure of the mother.
She is the machine, the hidden power. She is the ideal, the revered one, the truly loved. Which makes up, in a way, for being skipped in shop queues and looking like a heap.
And more. On the third night of my child’s life I looked into her eyes and realised that nothing I believed could explain this. It was an embarrassing moment. I think I saw her soul. I suffered from the conviction that a part of her was ancient; and that part chose to be there with me at the beginning of something new. I had a wise child.
Carrying her out of the hospital and into the noise of the traffic; driving her home in second gear; feeding her in the middle of the night, and at the beginning of the night, and at dawn — so precious — I found myself shrinking in the face of her vast and unknowable future. How would she turn out? What would she do? When would she die? Not for many, many years, I hoped; not for the longest time. The mechanisms of fate, the grinding of her days that would lead to one end or another, became urgently opaque to me. There were a thousand things that could hurt this child, or even estrange her from me. What could I do? Nothing. My best.
These are all feelings that religion understands.
I had, I thought, become human in a different and perhaps more radical way. I had let something slip into the stream of time. What else can you do, but trust the river — put it all into the hands of a higher power?
Oh, all right.
And who else, but the suffering Christ, could know the suffering that motherhood brings?
Actually, I will resist the tug of it, if you don’t mind. Still, I will resist.
Anne Enright, ‘God’ in Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, London: Vintage, 2005, 111-12.
Children are actually a form of brainwashing. They are a cult, a perfectly legal cult. Think about it. When you join a cult you are undernourished, you are denied sleep, you are forced to do repetitive and pointless tasks at random hours of the day and night, then you stare deep into your despotic leader’s eyes, repeating meaningless phrases, or mantras, like Ooh da gorgeous. Yes, you are! Cult members, like parents, are overwhelmed by spiritual feelings and often burst into tears. Cult members, like parents, spout nonsense with a happy, blank look in their eyes. They know they’re sort of mad, but they can’t help it. They call it love.
From ‘Baby-Talk’ in Anne Enright, Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, London: Vintage, 2005, 138.
养育儿童实际上是一种洗脑。它是一个邪教，一个完全合法化的邪教。 想想看，当你加入一个邪教时，你会变得营养不良，你被剥夺了睡眠，你被迫从早到晚在不确定的时间里，完成重复的且无意义的任务，之后你专注地盯着你专制领袖的双眼，重复着无意义的短语或咒语，比如：“哦，太好了。” 是的，你是邪教的一员！ 邪教成员和父母一样，被精神感受淹没，常常泪流满面。 邪教成员和父母一样，往往嘴上说着胡言乱语，眼里满是幸福和茫然。他们知道自己有点发疯，但他们无能为力。他们管这叫做爱。
In Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, Anne Enright offers a sober and funny memoir of a woman who enjoys and suffers a lot during the early period of her motherhood. The author expresses her intense love for her children but is not afraid to reflect on the difficulties, such as sleeplessness, tiredness and loneliness, which are brought by pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood.
As an episode of Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, "God" focuses on the struggles a woman suffers in her early motherhood. When I was translating "God" from English to Chinese, I made my translation resonate with the harsh, honest and intimate tone of her text. The memoir certainly helps to consider the advantages and disadvantages of motherhood carefully before becoming a mother.
I am not sure if the text will appeal to most male readers who often ignore the difficulty of women. Mothers are divinized as gods by most religions. It is not only in Western but also in Eastern societies that mothers are dehumanized as selfless sacrificers and great but quiet superheroes. They are required by the public to be docile, laborious and virtuous and be silent about what they suffer. Their anger, agony, confusion and gloominess are marginalized and even erased by the patriarchal society. Therefore, this text is a comfort and a relief for female readers, as the experience of motherhood is captured here in a humorous and enlightening way.