Losing A Mother

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)
 
Here is a link to a wonderful song, “I Can Only Imagine,” with its images of love and hope. https://youtu.be/1v6nIjuTeCs  
 
 
A picture containing grass, outdoor, person

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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) 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/02/26/pandemic-grief-could-become-its-own-health-crisis/?arc404=true&utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most&carta-url=https%3A%2F%2Fs2.washingtonpost.com%2Fcar-ln-tr%2F302af7d%2F603a76119d2fda4c88f526e3%2F5978a9659bbc0f6826ca1ba6%2F18%2F70%2F603a76119d2fda4c88f526e3

MILK without MOM

Breastmilk AS A Commodity

My beloved Son and Daughter-in-law Emily just celebrated the first birthday of my fifth grandchild Ava Violet.  She is still nursing!  I couldn’t be more thrilled!  She is walking; talking; dancing in her first pink tutu; and generally running the household in charge of her three year old brother.  I am strangely grateful for this period of holy hibernation during our new age pandemic. This cataclysmic shift in the universe has had both parents very close at hand with few ventures away from home for this little girl except for daily strolls now that full time center-based day care has been closed in Southern California Coronalland.

Emily and I surprisingly talk little about nursing and breastfeeding. She loves me and knows I am a bit of a fanatic; but she also knows that I know that she is intensely private and that nursing her baby is her business and she’s got this…

She also knows that I am fiercely and intensely proud of this 365 day breastfeeding milestone: not just for her and me, and her daughter, and my son, and the blog but but but just because she is doing what she wants her way with delightful abandon.  This is really good stuff and hope for the planet.  It has been a tumultuous road with bottles, breast pumps, dizzying fatigue & fear, and a healthy dose of not good enough; work; worry: and wondering is she going to be all right.

It is with such humility that I get to selfishly witness such love.  Pleasure, divine maternal attachment and what if anything she might gain for herself for this time for this “last baby” was her primary motive.  Seems to me I guess for this go-round; willpower or perseverance was simply not required. They all figured it out! Love always wins!

Edging the mother out of the picture as the sole arbiter of nursing her baby is a trend that has ominous consequences for all but especially for the mother. During this last day of Breastfeeding Month 2020; I caught a reference to a workshop on Breastfeeding WITHOUT NURSING! Human milk for Human babies, but no touching, no connecting required, needed, or even perhaps desired.  Mom and mom and baby interaction are essentially obsolete. How many ounces did I pump today?  Not latching on; not a problem!  How many little bags can I produce for storage today?  We could get a freezer on sale. No value added for the time we spend together.

If the product is milk, even your milk, how can the product be delivered to the consumer without you?  The stuff of scary science fiction or just relief from an unimaginable burden.

What if there was a vaccine for hate, a slow growing time for learning the capacity for giving, loving and nurturing and it had something to do for all us but especially that mom and that baby having that time to connect, to attach, to learn how and why we may experience belonging and pleasure and the sweet part about just being human. Where do we learn this?  Where might it be taught? Who will teach us if we have lots of milk, but no MOM.

Tell your story,  what happens after staying close to your baby; nursing as best as you can for that very first 365 days after cutting the cord?

References

https://genacorea.com/the-mother-machine

It’s not too late to fall in love again; I wanna know what makes you happy

Behind closed doors good things can happen. Many of us are locked up in the house with someone that we once loved, had babies with, but rarely have we had or ever had so much unabated together time not by choice.

While stress, poverty, frustration and abuse are certainly possible so is love! It is also not surprising that this time creates a window of opportunity to rekindle the love and to approach each other in new and creative ways that may have not been possible before this time.

We have always known the language of love. We know what feels and tastes good to us. But we often have to learn new ways to approach each other for pleasure and greater intimacy. Locked down, sheltered in place, saving the world and probably ourselves can be a recipe to challenge everything that we thought we knew about ourselves and each other. Sometimes you know what makes a person happy. Sometimes you just need the courage to ask . How would you like to be approached for love???for closeness???to allow love and appreciation to grow…

What if it didn’t hurt to simply give someone what they want .. what makes them happy . I have two friends that have been married for a very very very long time.

Not always happy but within the past few days they have noticed even when they have momentarily forgotten they have found unspeakable joy. We laughed and shared how well this time was going for them. More love, more joy, more lives filled with meaning than ever. They know what makes their sweetie happy and not so so surprisingly they are willing in new ways to do whatever it takes .

I wanna know what makes you happy…. I wanna know what makes you smile!

For me this morning it was breakfast in bed. A BLT; NPR on story corps : I didn’t have to get up and get my own coffee. I didn’t have to ask for anything. It was a gift of love …an offer an invitation of willingness. If someone loves you they know what makes you happy, what you like or are willing to ask…

I made a call to my favorite long time married breastfeeding elder girlfriend who doesn’t ever give advice but is always ready with a fabulous design and a short list of ideas of solutions with what’s on hand.

Listen to some good music to get your own self in the mood!

. If I wanna make you happy. Anything you say I’ll do. Just want to see you smile !

First order of business is :

1. I have to be happy myself

2. Get cleaned up take a shower bubble bath ; I need to feel good, smell good, wash my hair & get-dressed for success like you’re going somewhere special on assignment.You know you’re on lockdown and not going anywhere ..Just pretend ..

3. Show or let them touch some skin something … what’s underneath a leg a thigh something they may not have seen in a while

4. Give each other some space. Put some distance between you. Don’t be on top of each other .. make room .. be ok with being alone. Each doing and being your own thing. Be happy with solitude. Get centered! Enjoy your own company when you are blessed in rare rare moments to have it .

5. Share a meal ! It doesn’t have to be the same thing. Two plates of beans. …perhaps the same thing prepared differently . Savor the time and the differences and the sameness …enjoy the preparation but be ready to discard what doesn’t work

6. She repeated again. Time away and apart. Crucial to wanting to be together cause you want to…your choice. Nothing forced or coerced. Give them a chance to ask and say yes

It’s not too late to tell someone you wanna know what makes you happy and have them believe you by just be willing to show up .

It’s not too late to breastfeed your little one!

In case you have been wondering, if you still have to pump breast milk, wondering if you still have milk even if the baby has long been on formula; can you still do it, can you get it back? Is it still good to you ? You can! It’s not too late to nurse your baby…

There are many things that have changed in the past few days and weeks. Maybe you were not home, now you are, maybe you were working as a paid employee, had health insurance , now you’re not! Maybe you are working from home and juggling many things in uncertain times.Maybe you had help and now you don’t …

You have mostly weaned the baby from relying totally on you and relied on bottles, friends, your partner and spending time every day pumping precious milk from your breasts.

In an instant, you could change your relationship with your baby now that you are home and you both are together.

I won’t bore you with the benefits to the baby… there are many advocates online and all around you for that. How would it benefit you to have a seat and just nurse your little one, no bottles, no baby food, no pumps, no going to the store. Just you, and the baby having this time to nurse. What if it was your quiet time, before a nap, before bed time after a bath, after shower. Did you know there were hormones released in your body called relaxin and oxytocin that might relax you and give you a few moments to allow you to drift off to sleep..content …happy, well fed comforted and comforting…

Each time you nurse your baby, the sucking causes you to produce more milk, more for the next feedings for the next day. Like manna from heaven, ready right on time when you need it. Have a snack, have something to drink, get started … you may be surprised at how you feel. How much you have in store that is essential for you; just for you alone. You could tell them you just need a minute. You could supply all you need for however long it was needed. It’s not too late! Let us know how it goes!

Happy Birthday

Blessings, what a difference a year makes. Just 365 days, when is your birthday? Today is my grandmother’s birthday, she taught me the most I know about breastfeeding my babies. She would be 111 years old today had she not died in 1985. She gave me her old car after driving it awhile. It was her suggestion that I could take her Chevy Impala, when my pregnant self would no longer fit behind the wheel of our International Scout.  Reaching forward to shift the gears was just too awkward came and she sat with me in the scary weeks as I awaited my first child.  Her loving presence made all the difference.

My grandmother was the only family member I knew at the time who had totally breastfed a baby. Her mother died when she was three. An unbroken chain of maternal mammalian connection until my mom and then me. There is something about being an elder that is an unvarnished reflection of of yourself as a young person.  Youth with another perspective Id say.  When I started this blog I wanted to connect and intersect with the elders, the ancestors who had nursed their babies, the ones who didn’t and the women who might need to talk with us now, about what was on their minds and hearts and how we might be able to help.

Who would whisper in your ear that it would be alright, and that nursing your baby would be good for you if that was what you wanted and that fierce longing was your passion for how you wanted to be just this once just this time.  

I am a grandmother now.   Five grandchildren all breast fed, nursed long and lovingly by their moms just because they wanted to without influence from me. I hope I was there for their mothers when they needed someone older and wiser.  I am the elder, wise woman in the room, the one with the gray hair.  Some memories are crystal clear. Some things, the hurts and petty slights have lessened over time and I mostly remember the love and how it feels when you are called to do something and be someone and follow a path that you may catch some heat for. I miss my grandmother, but I also don’t have the illusion that I appreciated her as much as I do now that she is gone.  I see things differently than I did then.

Many of the women I meet now or know casually on social media are surrounded by family many of them women that don’t support what they want. Maybe because it is different, or strange, or that nursing calls for a level of support that they are just unable to provide.  There may be a full generation or even two who have never nursed an infant. If all your advice comes from your contemporaries or “Health” professionals. You just may be missing the long view and those who have weathered the battle and the sweetness and lived to tell the tale.

 Be gentle with them; but be yourself even when it feels a bit scary. Do it anyway and know you are loved and cared for just because you are you! You both have some important stories to share, we are listening! Happy Birthday! We celebrate you! Just one more year to go. This too shall pass!

Featured

The “Price is Right” is My Favorite Game Show

There are some things I do daily.   Some things happen weekly; biweekly, monthly; bi-annually; you get the picture, they are on the calendar, a regular practice. Somethings I don’t have to remember, they just occurred. There was some security in that knowing something would happen in spite of me, or because of me.

Every other Tuesday, I would get paid a set amount.  There was some comfort in knowing that. I thought it provided some measure of control I thought over my life.  I could plan things at least I thought around my spending.  The regularity of that check made me do or not do a lot of things.

 Until I nursed a baby, I don’t think I had an activity that occurred regularly that I allowed “control” to be given so freely and lovingly by someone else as an extension of me.  TNTC (too numerous to count). Why would I count?  That’s about how often you might nurse your little one some days.  

Surrender if you will if you can… I just sat down, or lay down, or refused to move or to do anything else. Allowing little else to take precedence over that five or ten minutes to at least to take the edge off. And then maybe a bit more time when needed or without watching the clock. Just till done, till the next thing called or we felt better.

  It wasn’t scheduled, this “nursing on demand” thing. We just had to be willing to show up for each other… I called to my little one when I felt full. My little one called to me when feeling near empty or hungry, or lonely, or curious, or just when something smelled yummy, or new or whenever.

What might you be saying by now does this have to do with the “Price is Right” ? Well I will connect the dots for you.   I love the Price is Right because I get to vicariously witness people with such excitement and joy.  They hear their name called and first with initial disbelief, it then registers , they mean me and the announcer gets louder and calls their name again and beckons them to come on down. They are usually crazy ecstatic! Running or moving gingerly, slowly, or great deliberation; they make their way down and bid on the prize.  From that moment on it doesn’t quite matter whether they get the price right or win the game. The joy and possibility is there and tangible and folks are jumping and excited when it means they mean me and I have something excited to look forward to…

Some people associate watching the game with others, my grandmother watched and I sat with her and we shared a snack. She was very reliable about the cuddle time and the snack. We also watched a program long off the air now called “Queen For A Day”. I can relax easily into that memory from time to time. However most often, I just like seeing people happy, total strangers especially full of hope and expectation.  It is absolutely contagious. It makes me smile.  

I find that if I schedule my day around the Price is Right and I hold that time from 11AM to 12 Noon weekdays. My day just goes better.  Watching a game show is not a quick cure for postpartum blues, or worry that won’t go away, or even a good substitution for a nap. But scheduling time for pleasure and joy reliably is a good spiritual practice. Something I learned from watching those amazing women around me who cared about me and for me.

Maybe I just won’t answer the phone, or I will sit still a minute and not multi-task. Or maybe I will actually play along with the game and guess the prices and wonder why they listened to someone else in the audience instead of relying on their first instinct and best intuitive judgment, but I rarely come away sad, after watching the Price is Right. 

Do you have something you do that you can schedule in or spend time with that will give you infectious joy and confidence in yourself and the world and most folks around you?

Did you smoke, drink, or do drugs while nursing your baby?

Nursing your baby for 365 days non-stop or longer is a long time, but not that long if you have made up your mind to stay close to your baby and to breastfeed until you or your little one no longer enjoy that kind of time together.  

Even if you planned to nurse that long, that is a long time to give up something you have been in the habit of doing just because you have decided to breastfeed your little one…  Just like nursing one day at a time, we have habits that are hard to break, or habits that we continue because we can’t stop. 

The big “A” words for addictions and abuse may rarely come up until you are pregnant, or nursing and you begin to wonder.  Will what I am doing hurt my baby? If I am solely responsible for their health and well-being; then maybe I will stop or try to stop a practice that is potentially not in their (our) best interest.  Perhaps considering my own health and well-being prior to this pregnancy was not incentive enough. Harm to the unborn child or the innocent infant as if it was defined as a separate entity unto itself raises the stakes.

Pregnancy is one thing; a finite set of time is different from the time after birth and others can observe and step in and judge you as the surrogate mom.  My daughter-in-law and I share a love of salami, cured, uncured Italian pork products are a treat. Shortly after the birth of the baby we shared a delicious deli sandwich that tasted the best ever… because it had appeared on a long list of items she had willingly given up for the weeks of pregnancy.

I recalled giving up coffee (caffeine) and soda. I never drank so that wasn’t an issue, occasional marijuana to enhance “?” was not a problem. The list was short, and I don’t recall any hardship.  I was much more impressed with folks who could give up cigarettes, alcohol, fried foods, sugar, an intolerable boyfriend and an array of other things they “did” daily so not appropriate for an infant or toddler.  I was supremely impressed with women with serious drug habits who were able to abstain from the minute they knew they were pregnant until the instant the baby was out. Alcohol use was less a reliable indicator of abstention, while it was probably the most likely predictor of fetal alcohol syndrome, many women did not associate weekend occasional binge drinking as affecting them at all.  Denial of abuse of any kind is a feature of addiction or abuse.  Is there something more “real” about involving someone else involved in your secret. I also remember doing things that I hadn’t done before, like eating more vegetables, drinking water, counting grams of protein, reducing sugar, drinking milk before I knew about lactose intolerance, and those wonderful daily naps.

Some women don’t choose or can’t give up or add anything to their already tight health regime. They live to tell the tale and either feel guilt and remorse while noting their child survived the life they led as did they.

Please tell us your story. Many women even today feel that their child’s health status today directly stems from something they did or were exposed to before they knew or when they knew but it couldn’t be helped.  No judgment, compassion and love pave the way for new beginnings and forgiveness.

Have you ever nursed another mother’s baby?

Before the advent of readily available infant feeding substitutes, it was not uncommon for women who were unable, unwilling or unavailable to nurse their babies to engage the assistance of wet nurses who would readily nurse another women’s baby.  This would not only save the life of the baby and in some regards the life and reputation of the mother.

It was considered a noble activity, sister sharing if within the same family or close-knit community, it could also be a lucrative profession for women at a time when women were rarely paid for women’s work. Often their own infants may indeed suffer the loss of milk or time, though depending upon cultural norms, their own children could be raised alongside or just ahead of the infant they were also nursing.

I have had the pleasure and the honor to nurse another woman’s baby. Always with permission, and in my case by the request of the mother in whose absence I was “called to duty”. Whether it was due to the reluctance of the infant to take a bottle or for the expressed comfort needs of the mother who felt what I had was better than the alternatives. Today, we may freeze and share vast quantities of excess breast milk given or sold by women with an outrageous supply of milk either because their baby was not available or had passed, or who had a tremendous supply due to the efficiency of modern day “milking machines” or electric pumps.

There is a clear history of black women nursing the babies of their white slave masters, their own children by their owners or the infants of their wives at times even simultaneously. It is a tangled web of traditions, secrets and clandestine relationships between women, their babies and the fathers of their children especially in isolated rural areas. There were many stakeholders in the decision as to who would nurse the baby when mother was not around. Having accessible affordable household help has always included the nurturing of children as well as support for the women unable to maintain the house and home-making. Having a ready supply of milk from healthy mothers was one way families and communities were ready to address an excessively high infant and maternal mortality rates rampant in certain parts of the country.

Where the wet nurse lives, who she lives with and the proximity to the baby and the babies’ mother and father could make for very interesting dynamics in the household.  It also extends our notion of “family”, cooperation and sharing.

More recently in social media and blogs, mothers have reacted quite strongly to women nursing their babies without permission.  Slate, an online newsmagazine took reader’s questions supposedly regarding the etiquette of a mother-in-law and a babysitter nursing someone’s baby secretly without permission.  However well-intended and well meaning, trust was broken, and both mothers reacted as violated and saw the offenders as criminals.  

Daniel Mallory Ortberg and Emily Yoffe ” pseudonyms” for Dear Prudence neither of whom would identify as nursing mothers Dear Abby’s of our day made no mention of any endearing qualities in a person spontaneously offering a breast to a baby while solidifying the moral outrage for women who lack boundaries on when to nurse someone else’s baby. 

 There is a long tradition now broken of the source of that instinctive touch of maternal connection and comfort. When we are gender neutral and there are pacifiers, bottles, nipples as well as multiple options for infant feeding, pureed foods and liquids; what might have been considered life affirming and lifesaving for the infant rarely considered the mothers’ emotional response to a crying, hungry infant and their stressed out mom.

Hormonal surges aside, whether lactating or not, the women felt something strong that might override any hesitancy to offer their breast.   Many nursing mothers may be shy to say they only wished there was someone who could “fill in” in their absence that they could trust. Would you feel differently if you believed the infant was orphaned and there was no other mother to step in? The police officer who found an abandoned baby, who had a nursing infant at home was applauded for her quick thinking and willingness to immediately take a cold hungry, dehydrated infant to breast as quickly as someone else might perform CPR.

So, what’s your story, please tell us about your experience?  Have you ever nursed an infant other than your own? Have you heard of a “wet nurse”?  How do you feel when you hear someone else’s baby cry? What do you think about the possibility of nursing another mother’s child if she asked you, if she gave you her blessing and permission?

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_nurse

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/javiermoreno/police-officer-breastfeeds-newborn-baby-found-abandoned-in-o

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/police-officer-breastfed-crying-baby-hospital-hailed-hero-180949452.html

Day care provider breastfeeding your baby: advice from Dear …

https://slate.com/…/daycare-provider-breastfeeding-my-baby-without- permission-advice.html

Feb 19, 2019  Daniel Mallory Ortberg is online weekly to chat live with readers. Here’s an edited transcript of this week’s chat. Daniel Mallory Ortberg: Good …

Dear Prudie: I caught my mother-in-law breast-feeding my son. What …

https://slate.com/…/dear-prudie-i-caught-my-mother-in-law-breast-feeding- my-son-what-do-i-do.html

Jul 9, 2012  Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers.

Mother-Baby Couples

In my book, Little Black Breastfeeding Book: Maternal Experience of Breastfeeding. 

 I have a small section where I expand on a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It is the concept of the mother-baby couple. Back in 2012, it began as a letter of support to my daughter who even after successfully nursing two children seemed to be struggling. I also noted that after many years as a lactation consultant and nurse midwife, I saw startling differences in the women who successfully nursed their babies. I also saw startling differences in the type of support and guidance nursing mothers received. Rarely was support and guidance given from the heart from those who had already successfully nursed their own children or even from those who had witnessed such a thing. We had skipped one or even two generations of no cellular memory of being breastfed or having nursed a little one. Not only was it fast becoming a lost art, but few were speaking about the benefits and experience of the mother. Here is a tiny excerpt from my story on the mother-baby couple as a tenet of the five keys for success that most mothers may need.

“The mother and baby are inseparable.  I would like to have you begin to think about how lives intersect along a continuum that begins with conception and one which ends with weaning. We cannot think about the needs of the infant during this period of time without thinking of the needs of the mother. There is no separate life for the mother or for the fetus.  Many midwives think that pregnancy is actually the establishment of a symbiotic relationship between interdependent souls. 

If conception occurs shortly after intercourse between a man and a woman, this act starts another relationship involving a heretofore-unmentioned third party: the mother -baby couple.  The experience that comes from joining two entities is uniquely interdependent on each other.  There is no mother without the baby. The development of who we are as mothers uniquely depends on the awareness and presence of the other.  We can speak of the origin of the mother-baby couple in terms of love, passion, sex, desire, planned or even as an unintended consequence of a momentary act.  However, we don’t always the know the spiritual circumstances of conception. I believe and I would like for you to consider if there is not some part of you that was called to be a mother.  Maternal instinct is an oversimplification of what I am talking about. Is there some part of you that opens to sharing yourself with another human being and for caring for a part of you that will become its own separate being?”

This morning I listened to yet another Story Corp of a woman in search of her biological mother. She spoke about the longing of discovery while also loving her adoptive mother. Her story points to a unique and special connection.  On her journey she met her siblings, folks she shared womb space with under very different circumstances than her own. Earlier in the week, my grandson called to tell his mother that his best friend’s mother called to say sadly his friend had committed suicide the night before. My daughter called to tell me. We cried as mothers, worried for our own sons and the despair we experienced in our own lives. Last night I finally got to speak with him.  In no small way was it a conversation about grief, love, and connection with the mother. It was about both longing and reflection.

In less than a month, four friends of mine noted the passing of their respective mothers.  All acknowledging the wave of memories and conflicting emotions. Last night I listed to Gloria Steinem speak about a pivotal moment when she decided she was unable to continue this relationship and how it impacted her life, her vision of her own mother and childhood and all the life experiences as a woman and a feminist that would yet to come. At a casual lunch, a friend mentioned she had not heard from her daughter for a long while; her daughter telling her just after her wedding that she no longer needed a mother just now.  My friend at 72 lamented missing her so, yet unable to cross the chasm to be where she was not welcome or wanted.  Settling for grief, is a most delicate form of love.  Our experiences as mothers deeply influences our spiritual lives. 

This blog honors what I hope is the maternal experience of the connection if for however brief or tormented or joyous. It is a shared memory that women so rarely give voice to because they are not heard or are shamed at a point of great vulnerability with such high expectations.

Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday.  She has been long gone as we noted ten years since her death the day before President’s Obama’s first inauguration. We buried her the day after my birthday.  I shopped today for a headstone that I hadn’t quite gotten to purchase just yet. At 65 I am still a part of that mother-baby couple.

Please tell us your story of your experience as a part of the mother-baby couple?