There are events in life that touch our sensibility more deeply than others. It’s the way it goes.

I’ve always had a strong attraction and a fond connection to Japan. Its food and sense of design. Its people and scenery. I have many great Japanese friends. All special. And although I have not yet been to Japan, I’ve always had the dream to visit.

Today, of course, it’s impossible not to feel sad for what happened to the country and its people. I cannot imagine what it must feel like. I also know that now that I am myself a mother, I feel even more deeply touched.


The work involved to help might feel out of reach. But yet there are little things we can do. Because everyone deserves to have a roof above their head; food to eat and water to drink; a family and friends to turn towards and love.

Chika who runs the wonderful blog She Who Eats is for example running a fund raising to help families in need.

It’s something important.

Something simple we can do.

I would like to clarify something because I realize that sometimes, people read more in what is written than there is:

Someone sent me an email this morning that read like this:

Today I read this in your post about Japan…

I also know that now that I am myself a mother, I feel even more deeply touched.

I am happy you are so happy in your role as a mother, but please do not assume that those of you with children can feel more deeply than those without. Loss, devastation, empathy, and grief are human emotions. For better or worse. For better or worse.

This was my response:

“This is not what I am saying or writing. You are reading something more in it. I certainly know that grief is not conditioned by being a mother. And that people without children experience grief too. But I do know however that indeed, now that I am a mother, there are new emotions I didn’t have the same way before. So I am simply talking about my personal experience. Everyone has his or hew own experience of life. And I am writing about mine.”

Posted in Life and Us


  1. It is truly heartbreaking. It has been so difficult to see my other half being so shattered by the devastation in his motherland. This has really hit home and my thoughts are with everyone in Japan.

  2. Many things, most things, take on a different meaning when one becomes a mother. I too cannot fathom, the depths of pain, horror, loss, fear, and overwhelm the people of Japan are dealing with.

  3. You are so right… I cannot imagine the horror of the situation there and of all the people who have lost loved ones… I was supposed to visit Japan in three weeks time, which is now very unlikely to happen but I am happy my friends are safe!

  4. You are right, as a parent, it is difficult not to feel the weight of the situation. Raising money with our friends and glad our friends in Japan are okay.

  5. You are right: this is just so sad… Une pensee a tous les habitants du Japon…

  6. Thank you for this post.
    Still we feel uneasy, but try to do all we can do.
    Please pray for my country.

  7. Thank you for this post and encouraging people to donate. It hurts so much to see all those pictures, hear all those news – one worser than the other (and feeling the need to cry out: “when is all this going to end!?!”).

  8. Bea, thanks for connecting us with Chika-you are a gem. I was in Tokyo for the earthquake and when I got back to my hotel, watched in horror as the cataclysmic events unfolded in the north. Everyone, please find an international relief organization and give generously!

  9. Make a donation to your Red Cross, even if you aren’t a mother, or if you are, or if you have friends there or not.

  10. You’re right, this is deeply bad. Our thoughts are for everyone who has been touched by this tragedy. Yes, it’s time to help.

  11. Every few hours, I find myself stopping whatever I am doing and I send my thoughts and prayers to the people of Japan. Absolutely heartbreaking.

  12. Your post is beautiful, and in connecting us to Chica you’ve also given as a venue to help. I know there are other ways but having this additional link is useful.
    In response to your response to the reader concerned about your feelings as mother I would like to say that as a new mother, I also think that there (for me) I know experience stronger new feelings of empathy, especially with people who have lost their children in this tragedy. The thought of this happening to me is surealy painful. Moreover, I don’t think grief is comparable from person to person. We all have our scale and personal experiences, brain chemistry that determine that scale.
    When searching for what to say to people around me who had personal connections to the tragedy in Japan, I found in your post a delicate, sincere way of expressing a wish to help. Many thanks for that!!

  13. No matter what we write,no words can express how deep this hits the soul,it is so sad.If only we could take your pain away,God be with all.

  14. I don’t have any children, Bea, and I took no offense by your post. You were simply expressing your feelings from your personal perspective and that’s just how I took it. As for me, I’m the “mother” of some pretty wonderful pets, so I can’t help but think about that part of the situation. The entire tragedy is so terribly sad and awful, no matter who or what comes to mind for each of us– to me, that’s really the bottom line.

  15. Beautiful posts Bea!

    I think becoming and being a mother is one life’s event that magnifies our empathy and compassion, but I’m sure that people who don’t have children have the ability to feel the same amount of love and compassion, it is just triggered by other factors.

  16. I know exactely what you mean about being a mother and feeling new strong emotions about life and its meaning.
    but maybe the link to lulu and le madeleines was not necessary… or not?

  17. Rosa,

    I don’t know. I actually don’t think so. My intention was very simple, honest and spontaneous. I didn’t read more into it, or wanted anything else but voice my feeling about what is happening, and how I feel, as just me, about it.

  18. I enjoyed the Lulu & the madelaines link from the few days before the Japan post. Also being capable to see the beauty that surrounds us and appreciating what we have, is important in times like this. I’ve been reading this blog for 2-3 years now. I read it in hard times and it made me feel better, not necessarily cheery but happy. It shows me that there is joy in harvesting cranberries or making a salad. I read this blog because of this so please continue enchanting us with your gorgeous photographs of little pleasures.

  19. I am a silent reader, and follow your blog for more than four years I have seen how you are happy for being a mom and your empathy is totally understandable. Maybe you have been a bit naive, but ,so what? you are what you are and feel what you feel. You express your feelings and for what you having empathy. Not much to think about or discuss, the feeling is the same for everyone: Saddened by the awful events of last Friday.

  20. I totally got what you said about being a mom and receiving news.

    This happens to me when reading books, watching films, listening to music–any other experiences outside of my personal world. Of course I had deep feelings before having children!! But they were just different. Being a mom just wakes up something new in me, it’s special and hard to describe, yet it’s there. I feel certain things more keenly and different than I did before, but I’m just talking about me, not anyone else! Life experience–new additions to our mental home. And motherhood is one of the most serious and biggest additions we can ever make. And it’s a LIVE addition at that. Motherhood is a beautiful force of nature–you are changed forever.

    It sounded to me like you were talking about who you are now that you are a mother, not about anyone else–though some do indeed identify and are glad to hear the same words coming from another from so far away. The beauty of sharing.

    It was a touching entry and it’s awesome that you want to help. To encourage others band together and help people during such a devastating crisis. This is what we should focus on. Thank you! 🙂

  21. I am a silent reader, too. I “discovered” your blog about 2 years ago by searching an original French recipe for petits pots de crème. I love the way you are writing about food and life. You are such a sensitive personality. Sensuality is what we are losing by those hard times nowadays. That’s why your blog is so important, yes and so successful. You touch people by your feelings which you can find in every little word of your lovely stories and in each detail of your phantastic photos. People need feelings. The fact that you achieve such strange comments makes me sad. I need to write you my comment. I think we all should stick together, not fight. But I guess we are all a little bit vulnerable these days. So I think that’s good news because you can see that we are still humane. Despite hard times. That is what I wanted to say. And, Béa, by the way I have to told you that I am a mother as well. My 2nd daughter’s name is Malou. And while pregnant I thought about calling her Lulu. She is 2 1/4 years old. But I have to say that I saw your blog when she was already born. So I guess that I am also attracted to “La tartine gourmande”. Your Lulu is so cute. All the best to you and your family!

  22. Pingback: Still thinking of Japan: Matcha Green Tea and Lemon Honey Castella (kasutera) Japanese Sponge Cake

  23. Anja and Jennifer,

    Thanks a lot to both of you for your kind words, especially as you are, as you write, typically silent readers. Many thanks. Anja, Malou is such a sweet name too. Love the sounding of it. I guess then that Lulu and her are really almost the same age!

  24. Bea, thank you for your thoughtful and beautiful post. We wish everything will be better soon..

  25. Pingback: ‘Heartbroken’ Obama offers support to Japan « What News Todays

  26. our hearts and thoughts are with all japanese and the family of victims.But, we have to learn that they are strong in face of those “catastrophe” disasters (earthquake,tsunami and nuclear).God bless Japan !
    Béa, what is the name of the red flower on your photo,pls? thank you

  27. While I agree with your sentiments about Japan, I do not agree with private fundraising. You have no guarantee that the money will reach those in need, or be used properly.

    Please DO NOT send money to private individuals. Send to the Red Cross, Save the Children or Oxfam who have rescue and emergency teams on site, giving food, water, shelter and medical help on site.

    No matter how well-intentioned, personal money raising just diverts funds from targeted and skilled response at best, and gives credibility to scammers at worse. And that latter group is already at work, using people like your friend as their collectors.

  28. Grief takes each of us in its own way….. I am normally a shy, reserved, self-contained person. But when my daughter was born critically ill (33 years ago!)….. I became a babbler. I talked to anyone who would listen, friends, family, or total stranger….. I confided all my hopes and fears for this baby to a hospital cleaner, Rosa, and I remember her with love because she listened.

    when a friend or acquaintance faces a tragedy I write a little note telling them this story, and telling them that if grief makes them need to talk to call me…… I understand.

    Being a parent is beside the point…. what matters is being open to others, no matter how they experience grief.

  29. The comment by the woman without a child seems to have come from a sensitive spot in her soul. While childless people have feelings and empathy, it goes without saying that there are experiences they cannot fathom. For example, an adult knows what it is like to be both an adult and child, but a child cannot fathom what it is like to be an adult. That’s just the way experience works. No need to apologize for whatever side of the divide you fall on.

  30. hi bea,

    i’ve just participated in chika’s fund raising a few hours before i read this post of yours. i think its lovely of you to write about it and link it to chika. don’t be discouraged by the negative responses that you’ve had with regards to what you’ve expressed in your post. i think it’s precisely the fact that you’ve always been writing very close to your heart that there are such many followers on your site. =)

  31. hmmmm…I just discovered this beautiful blog today, and reading this, the second post, I must admit, I felt a chill when you seemed to chastise the writer for reminding you that we childless ones feel great compassion, too. And it does not have to be having children that awakens this in you, it can be your very own tragedy, or series of tragedies, that awakens your deepest feelings of true compassion, and that can be greater, more encompassing, yes, that even someone who has children, based on our ‘chemical’ (as expressed above) emotions. We too can have an entirely broader range of feelings around cataclysmic events due to our own altered existance.

    It is obvious you were only hinting at your enhanced understanding and compassion, since motherhood, for the Japanese people in this horrific natural crisis. But like your writer, I have often been made to feel less important by those with kids who continually would say, “you don’t understand. You don’t have kids.” and these women would cluck and set their chins hard against me. And these conversations almost always revolved around me telling them not to hit kids, warning them of the depth of damage they are doing to their childs self esteem; mothers have at times gathered against me (and fathers) putting me down, holding my words with disregard, adding, “You HAVE to hit kids. You don’t know, you don’t have any…you have to beat kids.” And a tsunami of emotion and rage surges through me, and I want to scream! “How dare you think yourself so superior to me! You are nothing but ignorant child abusers! What would happen if you hit strangers kids at the mall like that? Even slapped them? You’d be arrested, that’s what…”

    Even writing about this, I am getting upset. (obviously, I was an abused child and this triggers me) So, wherever any of us get our rich and deep, reactive emotions, they are all and always relevant! And as Marcia said, above, being the mother of pets, she sees that side of the situation. Me as well; I posted the news video on Facebook of the one dog in the washed away village standing guard over it’s injured, imobile friend for days. And THAT broke my heart!

    Sorry this comment is so long, but it seriously touched a nerve in me right off. I think I’ve worked it through, though. 😉

  32. Hello! I am a silent reader, too, and a recent one as well. English is not my mother tongue so I apologize for any lack of fluency. I so much admire Bea and her work. All you do speaks directly to my heart.

    I’m writing because I thought that this post about Japan was meant to turn our minds to those that are experiencing a catastrophe, to those that are going through a disaster that most of us have never experienced or perhaps never will, to the homeless, sick, lonely, confused, to the 50 firefighters who are trying to put off the fire in the NPP and willingly give away their lives so that a nation or the world will be saved. I felt that at least for some short time, in these days of immense suffering by the Japanese people we would be able to forget our own pains and hurts from the past or present, to be united and pay tribute to those who are in emotional or physical pains and remain silent for those that are not among us anymore. I find it highly inappropriate to judge Bea for word, links and so on. It is not about US. It is about the JAPANESE PEOPLE. That’s the essence of Bea’s post as well. So let’s think about Japan and pray for the Japanese nation and support them financially, if we could. THEY need our thoughts now most of all. We would be more helpful that way.

  33. I am not a mother but I agree that motherhood does makes one feel compassion and empathy, not necessarily deeper, but different. Life experiences, e.g., becoming a mother, alters how we perceive and respond to circumstances.

    Yes, grief is a human emotion but felt by folks in different levels. Situations affect each one of us in different ways – the depth of our emotions usually correlates to our own personal experiences.

  34. This is, I would like to believe, first and foremost, a food blog. The author merely conveyed her personal opinions/emotions- not facts, take note, but opinions- about a situation that is otherwise not connected to her blog or its usual contents so please, to those of you with “motherhood issues,” air your grievances somewhere else.

  35. Dear Bea. I appreciate that you shared your feelings about this horrific tragedy, that you asked other people to do what they can to demonstrate they also care. I know nothing of anyone else’s life experience but I understood your reference to the changed life-view motherhood can bring because my own experience of life has changed so much since the birth of my children. Thank you for your sincerity and for your humanity. Your post touched me.