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66 weeks | Hold my hand | no. 0060
This is an education, learning how to be supported. I am good at giving. Not so much at receiving.
Today a village of mothers came to help me navigate the chaotic and unsettling terrain of the munchkin’s inaugural fever. Fifteen months in to this life with him, and I’ve never seen a number that high on a thermometer. Seven mommies who have walked this road before me texted, called, came by, ran errands, brought me things, and assured me we’d get through this.
Other friends without kids asked me how they could support. At first I struggled with an answer. It was hard for me to give context for all that was going on, and even more difficult for me to explain ways in which I could be assisted. There’s so many nuances when mothering through a crisis moment. The story is layered, too much for a sound bite or a text message.
Then I remembered the cardinal law of mothering: “Say yes to good food that you don’t have to prepare or cook after an exhausting day of monitoring and soothing and guessing and praying and experimenting and healing because your baby is not feeling well.” In fact, you don’t even need to ask me. Any time you feel like bringing me some food, consider it needed.
I want to write a longer piece about the responsibility we mothering beings have to connect and cultivate these villages of mothers. I believe my village is so strong and responsive to me in my time of distress because I began contributing to it long before the munchkin was here. And I’m talking beyond just babysitting or planning a shower. I mean offering real service to mothers when they were going through the scary, intense, messy, unpredictable parts of the work. I witnessed the ugly. I felt the weight of their deeps. I learned that there is much to mothering that is unseen and unspoken. I didn’t know it at the time, but being loving, present and generous to those moms was a way of planting seeds for the village I would need to hold my hand one day.
These myths that motherhood begins when a pregnancy test tells you so is causing a lot of newborn mothers to come up short. When finally the baby is in their arms, and they’ve stepped fully into their mother selves, they look around and see they are without a true community they can call on. My theory is that this isolation can be avoided, redirected entirely to a more positive outcome if genuine work is done in that invisible mothering space of pre-pregnancy.
But I can’t open all that up right now. My mother, the one in my village I reach out to the most, has told me I need to sleep. This is true. It has been a rough day for everyone. But I am grateful for this exercise in allowing others to lift me up when I can’t carry it all.
More on all this later…
The munchkin, my first born, was born on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy is an ongoing multi-media documentary project about my process as a mother. Today’s story is a part of Volume 1, 73 consecutive weeks of posts, spanning about the first year and a half of the munchkin’s life. Each episode explores my weekly discoveries, challenges, questions, and hopes as a mother. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.