Navigate / search

The Village: Who else is here while you mother?

Out of the Mouths of Babes prayer card by SBB

Motherhood is my teacher.

It makes me perennially curious and preternaturally suspicious.

For all the wisdom that gets handed down to mothers, we begin our own research from our very beginnings. Since the moment we are tiny girls and boys , we watch how our mothers hand us bowls of soup, we feel how they zip us in to snowsuits or close our doors at night, we are constantly collecting details about the qualities of this job. Who a mother is, is one of the first stories we ruminate on. Those eyes gazing at us in a cloud of love, confusion, tears, fury, wonder, gentleness, regret, desperation and plenty. Who a mother is, in the village of our becoming, is one of the fundamental, and, let me say it, necessary parts of us being who we are. By necessary, I mean alive.

My inquiry leads me to the work I do today as a writer and artist. I study and watch.

This morning in yoga, a mother with a baby who is about 3 months old, laid him in the center of the room on a blanket while we all went upside down on the wall preparing for handstand. His tiny chorus of gurgles cheered for our abs. We all breathed deeper because this little beast in a snuggly all-in-one was fascinated with the dust motes or the snow falling outside the window, the play of light on the forearms and backs of 30 people. He was content there in the middle of the room.
Later, while we were on our backs in shavasana, the only sound was his suckling. Next to the heartbeat of our own mothers, I do not know another more basic sound of connection and care. The quiet in the room settled, as if we were all being nurtured like this little one, in the arms of peaceful rest for a few minutes before we entered our busy days up on our two legs in motion.

Lissa Rankin says this in her excellent book, The Fear Cure:

“The willingness to be humble and curious, to simply wonder whether something is true, opens a doorway to possibility. It frees us from the limits of certainty and allows life to become our own mystery school.”

Becoming a mother humbles me. I dine on curiosity. Daily I wonder whether something is true. I live at the doorway of possibility. Faith builds in me as I marry this possibility to prayer. For my children and people in the Village around my family, the others who are community to our family unit, we hold possibility for each other.

Ben tiny foot
Ben day four by Keith Weber


Motherhood, even before you become pregnant, just considering pregnancy, draws you in to a wild world. We are instantly freed from the limits of certainty and thrust in to a mystery school of our own making. Our power to create comfort or terror is nearly unlimited. The hoarse-throated cries of women torn from footloose single lives to being forever in relationship to worry, time and love is a sound that will cease only when humans exit the planet. As long as we birth and nurture, we will be in the midst of this unknowable, but daily discovered territory of motherhood. For this reason, this slippery, transparent, muddily concrete existence is worth learning more about. These stories run the gamut, because each of us holds a unique prism on human experience.

Who joins us here in our Village, who impacts us, who shows up can be as random or as surprising as anything you have never planned. Do you intend to know the drivers of the ambulances in your town? Did you ever think you’d be familiar with the people you know now, who you never dreamed of being on a first name basis with? It is a hugely common, mundane act to connect with others, but this unity creates a web that, like the little boy nursing in a room full of yogis this morning, provides unspoken nurturance and continuity of our human story.

We carry on.
We carry each other. We are carried as we care.

Listening to the little boy nurse this morning, hearing him sigh with needs answered and care felt, the mysterious bond of parenting becomes audible.

OUT 2015 Poster

I hope you will join me for Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others this Saturday evening, March 7, at Dewey Historic Hall in Sheffield, MA. If you are far away, stay tuned to this event and the ongoing blog series here on Laundry Line Divine. If this topic of the Village intrigues you, here are the submission guidelines for the blog series.
Out Blog Series Submission Guidelines 2015

And, wherever you are in your life, with or without children, I urge you to consider Lissa’s reflection. Becoming willing and curious opens our lives to new ways of being. Look at your Village and wonder, who is here and how do they care for me? Who do you care for and what impact does this have on your life?

More on all of this during the month of March.

PS Lissa is one of a growing group of creative women expressing from inside motherhood. Here is Lissa’s post in the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series. This piece also appears in An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice, available here and here.

From Jan Phillips’ Museletter today

Hand Marbled Paper
Hand Marbled Paper
I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing to you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

(Rilke’s Book of Hours:
Love Poems to God, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)

%d bloggers like this: