Mothering the Mother
“The health of every family begins with the mother.
She is the tree from which the healthy fruit must come “
Juliette De Bairacli levy
From the moment a woman even contemplates wanting a child she begins to enter into her mothering role. Her heart expands and she begins to look beyond herself. It is the single most important role and often the most difficult one that women have. I have been delivering babies for over 30 years and am always in awe of watching a mother see her baby for the first time. She is almost always overwhelmed, scared, excited, and completely in love with her baby. I never get tired of delivering a baby and seeing the pure love pouring from a new mom as I place her baby in her arms.
When talking to pregnant women, we often focus on the pregnancy and birth and fail to consider the first 6 weeks postpartum. My daughter Kendall, who has 2 children, reminded me of how challenging this time can be. The mother has just willingly signed up to be awake for days on end, to endure physical pain after childbirth, while simultaneously loving this new person with her entire being and then questioning, is she doing it “right"? Often, the new mom wants her own mother to come help her. After my first granddaughter was born, my husband told me Kendall would want space to be with her baby. I thought that was wrong, but agreed. The first night home with her baby, Kendall called me crying to please come over because she needed help. I looked at my husband, said some form of “I told you so” and drove over to her house.
The job of a mother wears so many “hats." They are constantly loving unconditionally, serving as a role model, instilling confidence and compassion, providing discipline and structure, usually the chief cook and housekeeper, and of course meeting everyone’s physical and emotional needs. It can be exhausting. As a mother of four children, I can certainly speak from experience. One of the key phrases in our house was “Where’s Mom?” For there is a certain comfort, only the mom can provide.
Only since my mother passed last year, did I truly recognize the power of the maternal bond, especially between mothers and daughters. I was blessed to have my mother for 58 years. She nurtured me, supported me, and helped me raise my children. She was my best friend and listener. In later years I spent a great deal of time caring for her. But when she passed, I realized the void of being “motherless." She was the person who always accepted me for who I am, loved me unconditionally, and told me I was doing a great job. Now trying to fill her shoes and assume her role as matriarch, I truly know the importance of the Mother!
Individually and as a society I would like to remind all of us to support all new mothers by encouraging them to trust their instincts and their intuition. They will know their baby better than anyone. To help new mothers in the physical , bring them food, offer to clean, take their other children. Remind them of the amazing work they are doing. And to support all women, as we move through the stages of our life, without criticism or judgement, recognizing the nurturing bond we all share.