Today was my grandmother’s birthday and I thought so much about legacy and how we are shaped by our stories and the people in our lives. I wrote a memoir about the woman I was named for and I so grateful and committed to listening and sharing the gift of conversation with our Elders and Wise Women who showed us how they did it.
While I am passionate about oral history, I was unprepared for how much both listening and telling my story might affect me.
Who did we welcome in to our lives at just the right moment?
Who made a difference?
Do you know any women who nursed their little ones?
Do you wonder about healing your relationship with your mom and the people in your life who may want to support you?
Today is September 20th 2022, my son’s 48th birthday. When I was nursing him in the way way way back, I didn’t think about this day. No luxury of fast forward into the future; in fact, I thought little and just kept moving along. My grandmother had always mentioned to sit down and take my time and suggested ever so gently that all would be alright. I don’t think I have a single photo of him nursing
It would not have occurred to me to take such a photo or to even have someone take a photo of me nursing my baby. I don’t recall who took the photo, perhaps my mother or father. Likely suspects with a camera. I was dressed, had a bra on, no leaking and probably getting ready to go somewhere and packing up a diaper bag, hence with a diaper pin in my mouth. Things are different now. That’s Ok!
I didn’t have a computer, or smart phone, and this was pre-internet for me and he and I were still very close and connected and I would not be who I am nor would he be who he is without that relationship. So I am grateful and very grateful to celebrate his birth and to share this day with his father and to honor the women.
I am in the final stages of finishing up a second book on breastfeeding as a specia invitation to encourage any mother who wishes to nurse her baby for 365 days will have all she needs.
I have set out to have 52 women who have done so as part of an Elder Speaks: Wise Woman Series where you will get to meet the women who have just done that. First there are ten women, then 30, ten 100, and then 1000
If you would like to tell your story, please let me know… someone desperately needs to hear what you have to say. Birthday Blessings for each of you!
Please check out…. these two YOU TUBE videos… just for you…
I know I have been accused repeatedly as in more than once of believing that nursing your little one will solve everything. I don’t really think that, but I do sometimes. I have struggled with the words to describe the grief and anger I feel. It is my responsibility to tend to that… I have been playing one of my favorite songs reminding me that I have agreed to bring the revolutionary love in whatever form that looks like at the time.
Again, some days are easier than others and sometimes I connect the dots when I can find the dots in the multiplicity of ways that don’t make sense to other people. A writing friend explained that was what I do well when we are able to see things metaphorically from another perspective.
Do what you can! Nurse your baby if you would like! Your little one may be 17 one day or not or snatched away by something complicated or evil or simply in ways we don’t understand or can’t help making sense of, so we find something, or someone to blame.
I have suggested in a poem that I wrote this week that everyone consider adopting a 17-year-old whether you know one or not.
I was sure that we all know or have at least seen one, buried beneath a hoodie, or otherwise in plain view. You may know one of their parents who may need adoption, foster care, orders and prayers of protection for their grandmother and at a minimum some handholding for these times.
Here is the link to my poem below on adoption and my fervent prayer this Sunday morning that I can pray for all of us on their cell phones but especially my grandson on his cellphone and the seventeen-year-old who filmed George Floyd’s last moments crying out for his mom on hersand that we will all be able to do what we can if we just sit down a minute and share love when we are ready and able.
I was reading something earlier today about the power of a knee jerk reaction to teach us something profound. The power of our emotional response can indeed be a window to something much deeper .
With all of this talk about missing infant formula, contaminated food sources, and broken supply chains; it is easy to miss the source of why our hearts ache.
This is a good time to allow space and time to get present and inquisitive with our impulses and urges that feel “automatic” and to get curious about from whence these seemingly knee-jerk reactions stem. Does that place within you feel like an aligned place of intuition and knowing? Does it come from your Higher Self? Or does it perhaps feel shaped by outdated conditioning and in need of an update… The invitation is simple: to slow down and get present with looking into why we do what we do. (Bonus points for talking it out with a trusted ally, practitioner, or therapist!) https://www.astrograph.com/horoscopes/configurations/2022/May/15
What if you or your little one could only eat one type of food… and it was taken away. lost, unavailable. Money couldn’t buy something not on the shelf. No disposable diapers, what would you do? How would you feel as a mother unable to sustain and provide? Who is to blame? This is the place and the time we are asked to sort out those feelings with kindness to ourselves and others. It is truly full moon magic. Awareness heightened beyond belief. It is painful, disturbing, this season of discovery and loss and change and longing for connection and understanding.
One estimate says 43% of baby formula is out of stock nationwide. The shortage is stressing out parents and putting babies at risk — here’s what you need to know.
As with many shortages, the baby formula crisis doesn’t have just one cause.
Things really started getting bad in February, when the company behind Similac recalled several products over bacteria at one of its main manufacturing plants. That plant is still closed.
Similac maker Abbott Nutrition and just three other companies — Mead Johnson Nutrition, Nestlé USA and Perrigo Co. — produce almost all of the baby formula in the United States.
“It’s been this way for decades,” said Brian Dittmeier, senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association. “We’ve had large manufacturers that have consistently commanded the market space and edged out the competition. … You wind up with a situation where one plant closing for the matter of a few weeks has this ripple effect throughout the entire industry.”
It’s particularly dire with something like baby formula that is a necessity and that doesn’t have substitutes.
“There are many infants that can only tolerate one or maybe two types of formula,” said Carri Chan, a professor at Columbia Business School. According to Chan, some parents can easily switch their babies to any brand of formula that’s available, but some can’t. They need specific kinds for health reasons.
“And so when there’s a shortage in that area, there’s not a possibility to just switch to an alternative,” Chan said.
If you had a baby recently within the past year or so, re-establishing your own milk supply would take some work and time, but it could be done. Stories of women who have adopted a baby and never having given birth seem far- fetched as to the lengths they would go for touch and nursing. where does the milk come from. How is it possible?
You could check out some resources that might help. Or you could call a friend if yuo know someone who is still nursing her baby. See if she might help you. Take your little one to the breast. See how it feels to reclaim your power for something you once had. If you even nursed a few weeks or a few months. take a shower together. Take your top off and your bra! If you ever had a baby, See what it feels like . All the hormones are still there. Prolactin, oxytocin, your desire might rise or not. It doesn’t much matter if you have milk, now does it?
Thank you Cardi B for the Images of the Goddess the Divine Feminine
I suppose when I think of our covenant to nurse our babies for the first 365 days, staying connected to nurture ourselves. I get the medieval initial virgin birth Mary Madonna and Child image of sanctity.
My daughter reminded me that image might be due for an update in the land of tik tok and you tube and influencers and shared with me the powerful not so subliminal image of Cardi B nursing her baby on stage at work. Embracing every aspect of her whole self. Sexual, powerful, fierce, and so divinely raucous and feminine.
If she could make it so… then so could I. She deserved my Mother’s Day card of gratitude for the century. I should be so inclined of sending her a thank you card of power bringing her baby so close and so clearly visible if only the world could see. Grandmas living and dead would be so proud!
She truly was my New York City home girl just like me and it was my daughter who sent me to higher ground. She showed me the video that Cardi B held court with her baby attached to her tittie inseparable from what she wanted to do.
Separations from our little ones are largely dependent on the kindness or idle comments of strangers opining on what should a good mother do. We rarely if ever ask what do women want and need. What does love and attachment look like.
What a good mother should look like and what does a good mother want and what choices can a woman make just fine on her own. Many women had no choice on when they should or could leave their baby. Money and food and shelter and safety and what “Kulture” customs insist and define separation from mother and baby, letting go and who’s best interest it is. The things we say we do for the money.
We are not there at that moment! How could we possibly know their story? I know I am so grateful to Cardi B. I want to honor every choice a mother makes to share her body and her love with all Divine creation for whatever length of time and under whatever circumstances.
While this week, at the beginning of the month, the money from the check arriving predominates our thoughts. She calls it forth! She occupies her body and moves in ways that make me smile. Thank you, my daughters, for your choices. Your visibility, your courage. I would not have seen you unless you lived large and sought to influence me.
I honor this day my ancestors, mothers and daughters the matrilineal line. I look for them, I find their names. I say their names aloud. I see the babies they buried, the bodies they claimed and saved as their own when they could and when they couldn’t. I will never know what sacrifice was provided for me. I know I am standing here the only begotten daughter of our Savior the Divine Mother. Look closely she is in our midst. She looks just like you.
My granddaughter: Ava Violet August, 2019
My granddaughter: Taylor Marie August, 2002
My daughter: Amber Joy Meadows September , 1980
My mother: Violette Duckett April 1927-January 2009 b. 4/27/27- 1/ 2009
Her mother: Lois Laws. October, 1908 -February, 1985 10/24/1908-Feb 20,
Her mother: Mary Ellen Thomas 1884–Jan 1912
Her mother: Mary Ellen Thomas ???
My grandfather’s mother: Harriet Duckett July, 1879- 1945
My grandfather’s mother: Ellen Eliza Miriam Samms c..1862-
My father’s mother: Julia McDougall July, 1892-September 1986
Her mother: Elmma McDougall. c. 1878-
Thank you Cardi B, Influencer keeping it real… for nursing your baby …so much love and respect for you. Nursing your baby. Making Money. Showing up and showing out!
This pandemic of 2020-2021 has hit our mothers in many ways that are unimagined. Having a baby, nursing a little one and supporting one another through our stories is one way we make a difference in the lives of someone close to us or maybe some mother we don’t even know.
I listened to a story on the radio of a young woman who memorialized her mother who was lost in the pandemic. What was so sweet about it was the memory she shared about the daily ordinary presence she played in her life that allowed her to just go about the everyday business of her own life.
I write a devotional as part of a series for my beloved church family and while it’s not usually this personal, as I re-read it this morning, I decided to share it with you.
Many of you over the years have so courageously shared your stories of missing your mother. Even if it was not the best or most supportive relationship. It has indeed impacted how you have parented your own child.
I CAN ONLY IMAGINE
by Jacqueline Lois
Today as I share my devotion time with you, I took a peek at the daily numbers as we approach a half a million people all beautiful souls who have died from a novel virus. A life force that was looking for a host to land and thrive and grow with abandon is taking no prisoners, no son, no daughter, no parent, no sister, no brother is left unscathed.
I am struggling with the numbers creeping upward unabated as we all try to fathom the sheer weight of it all. It is easier for me to pray for each person, wondering about their story and wondering if I sit quietly for a moment and I can try to take it in without unending despair and grief. As millions recover, we hold them close and see them restored.
This hits home my house it hits home as I am the last grandma standing for a portion of my family tree. In less than two weeks, another grandmother and great-grandmother were called home to the Creator. Returned to the Source to stand in the gap on a different plane than the everyday where we are left behind to care and do and be our very best. Ancestors of two generations pass the gate.
The sudden and cruel devastation causes me to step in and look for ways to spread hope and encouragement. Love is the best of these virtues in finding the courage to be love.
I hope you will find a way that allows you to sit with me in pain, anger, and frustrations for whatever time you need. I see me and the other Grands surrounded by Glory wondering what their hearts would feel where their bodies fade, and they return to Spirt.
I like to say, we are not our bodies, we are Spirit. This does not comfort me in my hour of need. It does comfort me to imagine how it might feel to bow in praise, knowing the sweet peace that comes when all is well, and all is unfolding as it should.
I want to be good enough to stand in the gap and do all the things Grands could do and keep healing memories alive. Both my parents were raised by mothers who had no mothers in their living memory; not exactly orphans but their mothers were gone and watching, protecting from afar. I had the most wonderful loving parents ever.
Without Grace, and Love, where would I be? I am blessed to give love until my last breath and ever after. Amen!
Thank YOU so much Grandma Ann and GG!
You both have blessed us all your sons, your daughters with Mercy, Grace and Love. We will make you proud! Lives well -lived! Surrounded in Glory. Well done faithful servants! Your labor has not been in vain.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless 1Corinthians 15:58 (New Living Translation)
Thank you so much, Grandma Ann and GG!Backyard graduation celebration on June 30, 2020. None of us knew it would be the last family gathering with all present. From left to right is Grandma Ann (aka Antoinette Montague, 1960-2021), Taylor Meadows(2002–), and her paternal grandmother, Ann’s mother GiGi (aka Delores Marie Montague (1942-2021). Jackie is Taylor’s maternal grandmother and also delivered her. [Photo by our own Donald Burch III]
You both have blessed us all, your sons, your daughters, with mercy, grace and love. We will make you proud! Lives well-lived! Surrounded in Glory. Well done, faithful servants! Your labor has not been in vain. “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” –1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)
As a day of Holy Obligation, I attended on-line Mass today. Not because I had to; but because I wanted to truly celebrate A Feast Day for Mothers. It was really quite lovely. It has been many years since I went to Mass. However, I have found myself moved to prayer most days, these days; and as you would imagine I pray mostly to Mary in all her mysterious glory to intercede on behalf of all Mothers.
It is a simple prayer, probably one that I first learned in my childhood.it goes like this…
Full of Grace
The Lord is with Thee
Blessed are you Among Women
Blessed is the Fruit of thy Womb
It is the foundation of the Rosary , a calming and repetitive devotion that is an integral part of a long held ritual often enjoyed during Advent, the season leading up to the birth of the Christ and all of the celebratory events we associate with Christmas.
You don’t have to be Catholic or even religious to imagine what it might be like for you the 17 days before the birth of your little one. In addition to feeling fat, and wholly unready for the task at hand and how you might ever care for a little One; you hope for a moment of calm and the knowledge that all indeed will be well. it can be very reassuring to know that God is within you.
The tale is really quite magical, that a Virgin gives birth. There is NO sin, Original or otherwise and this was known well before your (Mary’s ) conception. Her mother (the baby’s grandmother) Anne knew and it was foretold that her conception was like no other and that She alone would give birth and nurture someone incredibly special who would save the world because of her Divine Love and Grace.
Today no matter what, I hope and pray that you feel special and wonderful and capable of even the impossible. Spirit’s got your back and you need not worry about the details.
My granddaughter introduced me to a word that she had tattooed on her forearm in plain view, she was “Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words”. Pope and a bunch of folks used the same Word to describe Mary and why we might worship her.
If you have successfully sustained the womanly art of nursing your little one for at least 365 days or more; no one need remind you that how you transition to another way of loving and nurturing yourself is as unique a path as you could imagine.
If you were under the false impression that weaning was simply the transition to solid food, how wrong you would be. This blog came about as a space for testimony for women to speak about the maternal experience of breastfeeding for an extended period of time.
The longer a woman nurses, the less we tend to talk about it. Partly because we lack words and partly because once again it’s both intimate and private and we risk with our disclosure a harsh critique of extended nursing as selfish and not in the best interests of the child.
It is very very helpful to have someone to talk to about these things. Ideally a nursing mother; but clarifying why you no longer wish to nurse is a different conversation than how to gradually do it with love. Mother’s who have nursed in isolation particularly struggle with grief, loss and guilt when they often times have only had their little one to support and understand the importance and connection of the mother-baby couple.
Child-led weaning is a great concept. Proponents advocate for allowing the little one to ease of the tit when we ask if the little one is ready leaves decision-making up the shortest person in the room without considering the needs or demands being placed on the mother. While nursing is one aspect of parenting and child caregiving, for some of us, nursing made our lives easier, joyful and peaceful and leaving that part out increased the drudgery and lessened the joy. Having a partner in child rearing, and care giving means a shared responsibility.
Often times, sitting in a still place, weaning is not so much a “choice” as a decision that is determined by the circumstances surrounding the separation of human mothers and babies. Raising animals for food and pleasure reflects cultural beliefs about making it easier to care for animals if they are separated
from their attachment to their mothers. What does it do to their mothers?
Politically and socially, we separate mothers and fathers from their children to punish them for seeking freedom. How do mothers stay physically close to their babies without distancing yet not nurse the way they did in the past. This is not just a question of graduating to alternate ways of sucking and nutrition.
How do we experience letting go, and setting limits when the time is right and in the best interest of meeting the shared needs of mother and child. Saying no when someone cries for us, or when we are spent and fatigued beyond our limits. Unavailable to our child because we are not present and whole within ourselves.
Attachment with love and interdependence is thought to be something that you get over. Outgrowing the need for nursing, how does that look in your world?
Have you heard some of these absolutes before… I am sure you could make your own list. What now?
See her there, gorgeous mound of amber Joy pretending to cheez for the camera. She is about 15 months old. My dad took this photo just past the 365 day mark. This is a lovely Sunday December near Christmas Gathering. We are nowhere near weaning. I am getting some good natured teasing from folks, I am smiling, she is ignoring them. Weighing in about 36 pounds, my Nana is whispering in my ear to ignore them reminding me she is strong and healthy for a girl and I look happy and well. “You will know when it’s time” I find it’s so interesting today that both my grandmothers who had a chance to nurse their babies well past a year gave me almost verbatim the same advice. “just sit down and nurse that baby and you will both feel better”
My daughter is wondering why I wore that stupid midi dress, turtleneck no less which provides no access to titties. I was trying to look grown up as if we no longer nursed at a moment’s notice. She more practical still than I wonder how long does she need to be polite and wait and eat finger foods olives, cheese, crackers, codfish cakes, deviled eggs.
See her reaching over pulling the fake pearls, not distracted a bit from what she knows will be our quiet time when we are done with these family folk. I just found this picture. The only one I have with me and my Nana. She lived a few years more and died my first day of midwifery school, passing the torch as it were. I now can see the power of Elder blessings!
I have been uncharacteristically teary today. I just finished the last payment on the headstone for my mom. She’s been dead now since 2009. The cemetery couldn’t find the account number or paper working barely the grave site if not for my daughter. The cemetery changed hands or pandemic stuff; records not digitized whatever? My daughter is the only one that visits the grave site and I think it is a fitting present that today on her 40th birthday, we remember my mother properly with so much gratitude. The gravestone goes to production, no more debt. We are so free to love and remember.
Violette Duckett Strachan April 27, 1927- January 9, 2009
Legacy is love. Inheritance is joy, and hope and promise.
Happy Birthday my beautiful Daughter. You are my Joy! I love you so!