Hello from Las Vegas!
Okay, as exciting as that sounds, I’m not here undertaking the “typical” Vegas experience. My best friend, Liz, is 35 weeks pregnant with her first baby, and has been on modified bed rest for the past 10 weeks. I’m here to cook and clean and keep her company. The strange thing is: while it seems like every day of my life at home is filled with cooking and cleaning that I would give my right hand to be rid of…I am so over joyed to be here fulfilling those same tasks in another woman’s home! To see her pregnant, to talk about Motherhood with her, to mother her…is such a complete honor for me.
As a benefit of my work as a childbirth educator, I am around pregnant women all the time. But with my students, I maintain a respectfull distance when it comes to inhaling the sweet energy of their pregnancies. With Liz, it is different. (After obtaining her consent) I have kissed her belly a dozen times, sat close by her with my hand on her abdomen, taking in her unborn daughter’s languid rolls and the quick prodding of hands and feet. I have given foot massages, and will later conduct a private Rite of Passage Motherhood ceremony with her.
In my up-coming article, Mothering our Mothers, in Montana Parent magazine, I discuss the basic needs new mothers have after the birth of a baby. Following a survey of over 130 women in the greater Bozeman area, I found a few basic things to be true: women need time to rest, time to bond with their babies, healthy food to be prepared for them, household chores to be managed for them, and….they need to be mothered. They need someone else, be it their spouse, a friend or neighbor, to look after them so they can better care for their newborn.
In a perfect world, it would be the new mother’s own mom that would provide this service. But in our culture, where families are spread out all over the country (and beyond), this is not always the case. As I poured over the survey responses, I noticed a recurrent theme echoed again and again in the voices of the respondants. They wanted to be mothered as they learned the art of mothering themselves. They wanted to be relieved of all other tasks and duties as they regained their strength after childbirth. They wanted the confines of their home to be protected by a trusted source as they nested in to bond with their child.
So, even though Liz’s baby is still yet to be born, I am here, mothering the mother. And while I am temporarily excused from my own mothering duties back in Montana (where my husband has gladly stepped in to look over our three little rascals) I am revelling in this, unfortunately, rare opportunity.