This week marked my eighth anniversary as a breastfeeding counselor. When I began, I didn’t how long I’d keep doing it and I’ve had a lot of discouraging rough patches with dwindling group membership in which I felt like giving up, but now I suspect I might end up as a “lifer.” When I started this work I had one little 18 month old boy. Now, that little boy is closing in on TEN this year! I’ve logged over 1200 contacts since my accreditation. I’ve learned so much from the mothers I’ve worked with and I continue learning new things all the time.
This month as I sat in the circle at our mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group meeting, I looked around at all the beautiful mothers in that room. I reflected on each of their journeys and how much each one has been through in her life, to come to this time and this place, and tears filled my eyes. They are all so amazing. And, my simple, fervent prayer for them in that moment was that they could know that. Know that on a deep, incontrovertible level. I tried to tell them then, in that moment. How much they mean to me, how incredible they are, how I see them. How I hope they will celebrate their own capacities and marvel at their own skills. How I see their countless, beautiful, unrecognized, invisible motherful actions. How when I see them struggling in the door with toddlers and diaper bags and organic produce that they’re sharing with each other, I see heroines. They may look and feel “mundane” from the outside, but from where I’m sitting, they shine with a power and potency that takes my breath away. Moderating toddler disputes over swordplay, wiping noses, changing diapers, soothing tears, murmuring words, moving baby from breast to shoulder to floor and back to breast without even seeming consciously aware of how gorgeously they are both parenting and personing in that very moment, speaking their truths, offering what they have to give, reaching out to one another, and nursing, nursing, nursing. Giving their bodies over to their babies again and again in a tender, invisible majesty. In this room is a symphony of sustenance. An embodied maternal dance of being.
So, today on International Women’s Day, when I visited the woods behind my house, I offered up this…
I offer a prayer for all mothers
may you breathe deep down into your belly
may you tip your face to the sky
let your shoulders soften
your forehead smooth
your eyes close gently
your lips part
And may you take a deep cleansing breath
from your feet on the earth
all the way up through your legs
And with this breath
honor your own capacities
marvel at your own resources
notice your strengths
celebrate your successes
listen to your own wisdom
recognize your own heart.
Take a moment to see
how often you act with great courage
how often you act with deep love
and how much of your life’s energy
spirals and spins around your children.
See your worth
hear your value
sing your body’s power
dance your dreams
recognize within yourself
that which you do so well
and with such love.
Fill your body with this breath
expand your heart with this message
you are such a good mother.