“It was a privilege to have children, it was not a right. The elders, the women, they used to determine even who could have children. Had abortion medicines. And if somebody was abusing a child, they took that child, and the women couldn’t have children anymore. They determined that.
Children are sacred, living treasures, gifts from the Great Spirit. You always treated them as if they didn’t belong to you; they belonged to the Creator.”
Betty Laverdure, Ojibway elder, found in A Woman’s Book of Life, Joan Borysenko
Like any rite of initiation or test of endurance, giving birth is a heroic act. It is physically and emotionally exhausting, yet leads to a joyful sense of well being once the alien inside has been delivered. In facing pain (with or without epidural), we step through a doorway into another world. And give birth not only to a new child, but also to ourselves as New Mothers.
"To be a mother is an absolute mystery, which is relative to nothing else, comparable to nothing else, it is an impossible task and yet, gets done even by ‘bad mothers.’"
translation of text from Les Filles de Demeter, Chantale Proulx
There is a spiritual dimension to giving birth, recognized since ancient times as part of the Great Mysteries, the Blood Mysteries, the mystery of the cycle of life. Even our body’s make-up and physiology supports an experience of something ‘beyond’ or ‘above’ us in bringing a bond to this new, vulnerable little being.
“A woman’s biology is specially crafted to produce pleasure, excitement and joy for her in the ancient dance of relationship…a biochemically sustained infatuation gives rise to strong spiritual expressions of inter-connectedness and deep communion.” A Woman’s Book of Life, Joan Borysenko.
And yet, often, the loneliness and lack of support, the lack of know-how, lack of sleep, and the demanding nature of the job can make us feel like we need a sabbatical from motherhood.
On this day of honour to Mothers, Mother’s Day, please write me with your thoughts on these questions:
What was the experience of becoming a mother like for you? What keeps you going? What support networks have you built for yourself to help you be a better Mom?
Remember how precious it is to be able to be a mother:
6.4 million American woman get pregnant a year
44% are intended (2.8 million); that leaves a majority due to failures in contraception.
4 million women give birth each year
1.6 million abortions/ 47% of women will have an abortion by age 45
7.5 million (13% of reproductive age) are infertile or have difficulty getting pregnant
2.3 million couples seek help with infertility
statistics taken from A Woman’s Book of Life, published 1996