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The Transformative Power of Mother's Day

I became a mother in New York City, a few short days after 9/11. The experience was shattering, traumatizing, life changing. As the fighter Jets circled overhead, I was reminded daily that anything could happen again at any moment; that I, and my newborn son were not safe. I tried drawing on the strength of my grandmother who nursed her son during the London Blitz, but her story only added to my feelings of disappointment at the world being so very different from the way I wished it was for my son.

As mourners trickled into New York, my neighbors, unable to share the joy of my new motherhood with me in their shock and grief, finally began to weep. The streets were lined in solidarity with American flags, the air was a buzz with talks of war and vengeance and with my son held tightly to my chest, I thought of him going to war and I thought of the mothers of the terrorists. What were they thinking? How were they feeling? Is this really what they wanted for their children? How are they coping with their grief at their loss? Night after night I would sit in my rocking chair nursing him while looking up at the moon thinking of them and all the other mothers across the world nursing their babies at exactly the same time.

When the war in Iraq started, I rocked him in my arms and wept.

After the Civil War in the U.S Julia Ward Howe wrote a Mother’s Day proclamation in 1870:

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Something amazing happens to us when we become mothers. Suddenly, we are no longer mothers of our own children, but mothers of all children. A baby cries in the street, and you can’t help but turn and wonder, Is that mine? Whose is it? Is it okay? Can I help? In today’s interconnected world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the children in need next door, to ignore the impact of war, poverty, disease on all our generations to come.

So this Mother’s Day, if you haven’t begun to do so already, let’s take our pain, our distress, our outrage at the world the way it is and transform it bit by bit and piece by piece into a feeling of joy and hope, as we begin to start envisioning and then working to transform the world into what we want it to be.

Comments

JaniceW's picture

Beautiful

Tina, I was in New York also when the planes hit the World Trade Center and from my apartment, watched the towers burn then fall. I can only imagine your despair for your son's future as you watched the world dissolve around you. But I do believe that it is the women of the world, who see the future through their children's eyes, who are speaking out, and making connections across neighbourhoods, continents, and cultural barriers to change the way we live. I see it happening every day here on PulseWire and have great confidence in the courage and strength of the women who are transforming lives as they share their knowledge, dreams, ideas and hopes with the community.

I believe that by you telling your story, one more voice may feel empowered to speak out and take a stand. I encourage you to reach out to other members, or start a dialogue by commenting on another journal entry. There are also many amazing groups here, full of inspired and strong voices. Take a moment to browse through our group directory (http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire/groups) where you may find a group with similar interests to your own. Or, you may consider starting your own group where you can build a powerful network bringing together PulseWire members with similar visions who want to share ideas or actions.

Again, welcome and I know that you will find PulseWire to be engaging, inspiring and thought-provoking.
Janice
PulseWire Community Director

midiberry's picture

Yes!

Hi Tina

Thanks for sharing your touching personal story.

Did your English grandmother ever tell you the origin of Mother's Day according to her culture? I grew up in England and was told that its roots lay way back in history but that it always fell on a Sunday (also known as Refreshment Sunday) midway through Lent when rules were relaxed for a day, so that people could receive proper nourishment to last them through the rest of the religious fasting period. People would make the effort to go 'amothering' to their 'mother church' and it actually was the only holiday of the year for many girls and boys, young men and women working in service as maids and servants to rich families. Traditionally they were permitted time off to visit their mothers and families and the more kindly employers would ensure they went home with a basket of food.

I loved reading your words:
"Something amazing happens to us when we become mothers. Suddenly, we are no longer mothers of our own children, but mothers of all children..." and
"let’s take our ... outrage at the world the way it is and transform it bit by bit and piece by piece into a feeling of joy and hope, as we begin to start envisioning and then working to transform the world into what we want it to be."

I'm personally so pleased to see many charities encouraging people to turn USA Mother's Day giving away from commercial bonanza toward doing such work. If you have time to visit my blog at www.changents.com/midi-berry you can read how a local 501 c 3 here in my home community in California chose to channel Mother's Day energy. The simple afternoon event they hosted fostered community spirit and has raised enough money to benefit 240 people in Africa this year.

The transformation is under way. Good luck to you and your little one!

Midi Berry, California

Tina's picture

Thanks

Hey Midiberry, Thanks for your comments.
Yes, Mothering Sunday in England is based on the church season and is in March usually instead of May. I try to celebrate it twice but it doesn't always fly! Congratulations also for raising so much money to benefit others in need.

amelia's picture

Thank you!

Dear Tina,

Thank you so much for sharing this story on PulseWire; we so need to remember and recognize the humanity beneath the violence and trauma that grips our societies and people across the the globe daily. I would also like to extend and invitation to join one of PulseWire's groups called Cradle, which offers a space for mothers around the world to share their parenting wisdom and stories. To join the group visit this link: http://worldpulsemagazine.com/pulsewire/groups/8201.

Thank you again, and I look forward to seeing more of your words on PulseWire!

My warmest regards,

Amelia

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