The mamas and babies have arrived. I hear them chatting with one another. Their laughter and conversation wafts through the house. I smell the aroma of fresh coffee. I look out the window and see cars parked in the driveway and up and down the street. A stroller sits on the porch. The dining room will be full of coats and car seats. I feel happy knowing the mothers are here, in my home, even if I can’t be with them. I have a virus, probably no longer contagious, but I don’t want to risk exposing anyone to this flu bug. Instead I work in my office, enjoying the sound of the babies and toddlers.
Today is our mother’s group. We meet twice a month because we believe that our parenting journeys are enhanced when we are informed and conscientious about our decisions, and that it is our job as parents to help our children grow into whole, healthy children full of purpose and well-being. When we mindfully sift through the different parenting approaches, when we engage in meaningful, nonjudgmental conversation and learning, we come to understand how best to listen to our intuition and to our babies.
Some of us are older women. We are mature mothers ourselves, we are doulas and educators, lactation consultants and grandmothers. We participate because we know that community, connection and support make mothering easier. We’ve had our fair share of bad days and we have survived. We’ve had crying babies, sick babies, teething babies, breastfeeding babies of all ages and stages, we’ve experienced tantrums, chipped teeth, night-time parenting; most importantly, we have known the exhaustion that accompanies mothering.
Our group topics are centered around being gentle with yourself as a mother, acceptance, slowing down, being present, choosing love, developing confidence, finding joy. Sometimes there are tears and there is always laughter. We hold a space for all the emotions a mother feels and we honour our unique differences.
We need each other. I need these dear mamas and babies because they give me hope for the future. I hear their struggles and admire their strength. Mothers cuddling babies close, attached and secure, fill my heart with delight. These younger women need us too because we are proof that life goes on, that children grow up, that one day sleep will be uninterrupted and relationships will survive the intensity of the mother/baby bond.
A dear friend calls it “finding your village”. She introduced me to my village 36 years ago. Today, those village women are my closest friends.
Mothering is a journey best traveled with women who offer nonjudgmental support, encouragement and love at every stage of parenting: village women.
It is my hope that the mamas and babies who gather in my home are finding their village. The laughter and conversation tells me this is so.
In fact, I hope all mothers will find a village of supportive women. Without the village, mothering can be lonely and tough. We need to share our laughter, tears and struggles.
Our babies will benefit and so will we.