Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rocking on a snowy evening

 I came home from work early today, because the first real storm of winter was brewing. It was very cold, and windy, and the snow – though not yet heavy – was blowing. So firstly, I recognize what a privilege it is to be able to come home when the weather looks threatening. There are a lot of people who would have to stay right where they were until their usual close of business, and I did not.

Then, there’s the fact that I got a ride home. Actually, the ride home is the reason I could leave early, because my friend Maggie stopped by in her car to see if I could leave. I had already decided that I wouldn’t walk home this afternoon, anyhow, because the weather was pretty miserable; but now, I didn’t need to worry about the bus, either.

In the car, Leah was asleep in her snowsuit, having had a pretty full day, what with playgroup at the synagogue and running around with Eema. When we got home, I got her out of her snowsuit (which my own daughter had worn what seems like centuries before) and brought her upstairs with a bottle, so that we could have a cuddle and she would have a chance to get back to sleep.

As I sat there rocking her, listening to her singing her sweet little song, I felt an amazing sense of connection – not just to this beautiful baby girl and to her mother, but to my days of young motherhood, when I rocked my own baby to sleep. Leah would occasionally squirm upright, discarding the bottle in favour of some kisses, which was just fine by me.

We sat there rocking and snuggling, nuzzled into each other, listening to the wind blowing outside, Leah taking all this as no less than her due – as indeed, she should; and me, for my part, sitting there realizing that this connection was to much more than my own life. My connection seemed to extend to every mother and every baby, and I found myself thinking sadly about babies I’d seen in newspaper articles recently whose mothers could not care for them, about babies who were hungry, and mothers who were hopeless.

As I rocked, Leah safely nestled in my arms not quite asleep, my heart filled with the bliss that comes from just hanging out with a small soul when there is not a single other thing in the world you needed to do or would rather do; but at the same time, I ached for those other mothers – the mothers who were not ready to be mothers and made other choices for their babies. The mothers who were not ready to be mothers and who did not know it, parenting without the resources or even interest that their children deserved. The mothers of Haiti, many of whom became mothers through violent rape or coerced sex. One of these mothers, interviewed by a journalist a few days ago, spoke of hating the man who had raped her and discovering, much against her will, that she had come to love her tiny son, the son for whom she was unable to provide even the basic necessities of life.

Mirlande Lewis, Port-au-Prince,
with her 3-week old son, the
product of a gang rape.
(Deborah Baic, Globe & Mail)

I thought about mothers whose children were half-grown, but who had in one way or another become disconnected from them. Mothers whose children I met a very long time ago, when I worked at a long-term shelter for homeless youth. I didn’t know those mothers, but I remember that some of their children spoke of being disposable – they considered themselves throwaways, and sometimes, sadly, they were correct.

I thought about children who were out in today’s miserable weather and hoped that they would be out only long enough to get home safely to where it was warm. I hoped that they had somewhere warm to go, and that they would be with people who loved them.

I realized that my connection to Leah was more than a connection to a single little girl I have grown to love. My connection was to every mother and every baby, back to the very first mother and baby, and I realized that more than anything, women are sisters, even when we don’t know one another. We share experiences, even when share nothing else, not language nor place nor living situation. Loving Leah was (and is) about more than just loving Leah. It is about love itself, and right now, the power having gone out in the storm, the living room lit by just a few candles and the light of my laptop, the temperature in here cooler than I wish it would be, I am surrounded by love. With all my heart, I wish that all children in the world were as loved as those I have loved.


heartinsanfrancisco said...

This is beautiful! My heart breaks, too, for all the mothers and children who lack the basic necessities, whose lives are hard and filled with pain, but most of all, for the many unloved children who surely deserve so much more.

Chaviva said...

Thanks, Heart... I've been thinking a lot about mothers and babies lately. I do anyhow, having raised my daughter all on my own, and it hurts me to know that there are women out there doing it with far fewer resources than I had. I don't know what to DO about this, exactly, but it's on my mind...