YES OH MY YES.
I confess it was very late at night, and I began wondering about our President’s mother. Where was she born? How old was she? What was her name? How were things going in her marriage? Was he her first baby, her first son? Where was her mom? Her sisters? Her auntie, her grandma? Had she had a successful experience by the time it came time to nurse the amazing child who would grow up to be President.
Mothering a son is different than a mothering a daughter. Or at least that’s what we are told, Somehow gender is a factor in how we love and nurture. When I held my son close, and cuddled, was it different than holding my daughter? When I lost control, or felt ill, or inept, was I different with my son than my daughter. Did I have higher expectations for myself and for him?
My Nana, my paternal grandmother was an immigrant traveling here by ship from Trinidad . She first arrived here at age 17 years old with her two younger twin brothers in tow. Some nine years later, she had her two boys both born at home with nurse midwives. She nursed them both for a long time as was their custom and she prayed that her sons would be great and promised God all good things if their lives would be spared the pandemic of their day, the 1918 Spanish flu. I can barely imagine what it was like to nurse my baby in the midst of quarantine. 50 million people lost worldwide. Would fear completely overwhelm me? She described so many children lost, soldiers quickly wounded and dying from the Great War, and traveling by ship across The Atlantic. She first traveled alone, and then with her twin brothers, recalling her own mother’s illness; their faith, the violence, the lynchings; sons who inflicted unspeakable harm, unimaginable sorrow, grief and separations, days when it seemed that none would be spared.
Our President’s paternal grandfather died in 1918 from the pandemic. Apparently they were together one day for a walk and the next day, he died suddenly. I wonder how his mother with a young son only 14 years old felt losing her husband alone in a new country. She too was an immigrant! A young woman having to go on alone with her son who had the courage and foresight to build a prosperous family business. By the age of 31, her son married a woman he loved in 1936 and they soon started a family.
Our President was the fourth of five children born to a MOM, the youngest of ten children who immigrated from Scotland to join her sister in New York at age 17. Like my grandmother, leaving a small island; the future essentially unknown, but filled with promise. Maybe there were no other choices! She wanted only the best for her self and her sons. Something more, but she would gladly settle for survival and a long healthy life of service and joy. What might we have to endure? What might we all have in common?
I have to think on that one a bit and wonder a bit more. It has been a very long time since I held a baby at the breast. and drifted off to sleep, knowing all was well, feeling safe, not hungry, not thirsty, and not afraid. As a mother I felt the most power ever in my ability to not only love, but to protect and dream and wish for a world full of wonderful things I would prepare my son for when he was no longer small enough and portable enough to be held in my arms.
Today I pray for all mothers and sons. May they be protected for all the days of their lives. May our mothers find courage, find comfort, find love and the gentle space to wish and wonder and care for their babies. We have no idea what our sons will become, or how we will manage. We teach love at the breast; but it is not our only tool.
Today we unite with all mothers everywhere. We call for peace, grace, mercy, justice, but most of all the capacity to love safe from harm. Tell your story. Listen closely to the mothers all around you!
4 thoughts on “Wonder if our President’s mother was able to nurse her baby?”
This black breastfeeding week I celebrate exclusively breastfeeding my son for 7 months. It has been a challenge during the pandemic but I wouldn’t change a thing. When my son was born in January, I had no idea we would basically be stuck in the house all day every day together for this long. My husband has been amazing and does all of the grocery shopping so I don’t have to worry covid. I can just focus on nourishing my baby boy.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Powerful piece of reflection and personal story. The title really caught my attention–itself a potent question, given how he acts and seems to show no empathy. As a father, and as one who does not know if I was breastfeed (but somehow doubt it because I have been told my mother became rather seriously ill with post-partum depression), I am less clear about this. Except I know I have a bias toward breastfeeding babies. Sadly, our daughters did not get much breastfeeding because their mother, my former and sadly now deceased wife, needed to go back to work fairly soon after their births. I have wondered, and this post causes me to reflect more, about whether if I had been providing more financial support for us if she might have chosen to stay home longer. I know our daughter who gave birth to two of our grandchildren did breastfeed them (her sisters have adopted children). Those two girls are a delight, and clearly adore their mama and their daddy, too. Thanks for this reflection and what it causes me to ponder.
LikeLiked by 1 person
thanks for taking the time to respond. I have been hoping the titles have been evocative. Apparently this one worked! I have been praying almost holy for our President’s mother these days.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I will add her to my prayers