And under the tattered old quilt….

Friends,

One of our beautiful team members is anxiously awaiting the birth of her first grandchild. It’s so exciting for her and exciting for our team as well! She is such a wonderful human, this team member and most certainly a beautiful mom. We were chatting in the back of The Village recently, about being mother’s and now grand mothers and I expressed that I am really grateful her daughter will have her close by, to be a source of support and love when this babe arrives. In the quiet of The Village that night, after everyone had left and the peacefulness had settled in, I sat in my office and reflected on our conversation. More specifically, I understood just how special it must be to have a mother’s support on these important life moments, because that gift is missing from the stories of many women (and men) in our communities.

I’ve written before about my own journey of loss and being a “motherless daughter”. When I was just 18 months old and my siblings a few years older, my father took us away from our mom and into the new life he was starting with his girlfriend. We were punished for grieving our mother, speaking of or crying for her. At that time, in the early ’70’s, my mother was a stay at home wife and my father was the bread winner. I often wonder now if my mother experienced post partum depression, something probably so misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

For many years of my life, I yearned for a mother. In childhood, I would dream about this woman, with long brown hair and kind eyes. As I grew older, the dreams came less often, replaced by the anger of my then teenaged self. I wondered why she never came back for us, because surely that’s what a woman who loved her kids would do. There were no fond memories of childhood songs or stories, no family recipes to be taught, no one to foster healthy self esteem or to soften life’s lessons. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that my anger softened to compassion and understanding, holding my own babes and perhaps now appreciating the profound pain she must have felt when we were taken from her.

I have always been captivated by the historically based stories of small fishing villages and communities, where each seemed to have a strong woman character, who helped women birth their babes, bury their folk, who knew which herb worked for what ailment and whom walked in the winds of the voices of the sage women who had come before her. Corny maybe, but for me, this is the sort of woman my imagination created, in place of a mother. Kind of like Miss Babineau, the Acadian midwife in Ami McKay’s “The Birth House”.( Have you read this book?? You should!) Although I longed for the romantic idea of what a mother’s love and support would be like in my own life as a woman and mother, I soon embraced the idea that a strong, compassionate and loving female doesn’t need to be one from whose body you were born. And that as a community, we can all stand in and support eachother, in childbirth and parenting, in feeding our people, in grieving those we love…..

Not too long ago, a young, first time mama came to The Village when we were in the back sorting. I knew she was expecting a baby and hadn’t seen her in a while. I looked up and saw her walking into the back and my heart smiled. She was so proud to show us her babe, and perhaps even more proud that she was out and about on her own, with her new love. I gave her a hug and expressed how happy I was to see her. WE talked about how things were going (minimal sleep, nursing was tough and so she was bottle feeding, how she was healing after the birth) and she said ” I’m so happy to be here. I couldn’t wait to come and show you guys.” My heart hopes that she will come often. That she will let us surround her with those winds of sage women, like Miss Babineau and the women from those fishing villages long ago. We have so much to give eachother, particularly as women, that will help ease the loss of a mother’s presence on our journeys.

Take good care of eachother, friends.
Warmth and love, Andrea

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