A hundred plus years ago, a few know-it-all white men, in whose cool shadow I shudder to dwell, started a revolution. But not in a good way.
Now in the twenty-first century, here we stand, fighting not only these men’s ghosts, but also very real antagonists to the mother-baby relationship.
Babies are born sometimes peacefully, but often violently, and whisked away for “important” procedures. We live in a weight-obsessed society, starting from birth. Babies are separated from their life source not once, but twice, in the course of a few moments, like ripping a plant from the earth and dropping it back in, with hopes the roots will just “take.”
In our society, our prudish, sex-crazed paradox of a culture, “mama milk” is a naughty phrase of two four-letter words. Double whammy.
Babies graduate from a warm, cozy womb to a bouncy chair or carseat, often carried from backseat to living room floor in a plastic bucket, all in the name of convenience.
Newborns are put down in cribs to sleep alone, because after all, if you don’t teach self-soothing by six months, how will they ever learn? Independence is the poster child of America. Precious few stop to tear down an ideology built on faulty logic.
We train our babies to pee and poop in diapers, and then wonder why they have trouble going anywhere else.
We spend money on things and classes and books, all of which hold the elusive and deceitful promise to make yours the smartest baby on the block.
We swim upstream, trying to get babies to adapt to our life. We see babies as an inconvenience, a barrier to the carefree life, a beast to be tamed.
But let’s not wave the white flag of surrender with a carton of Ben and Jerry’s just yet.
I have a dream this Mother’s Day.
I have a dream that one day, babies will be birthed in peace, and spend their first hours in the arms of their loving, capable mother. One day, we will respect the birthing mother, and remember that birth is normal, and has been the primary exit route of people for millennia.
I have a dream that one day, mothers will have the resources and support they need to nurse their babies for as long as they both desire. I have a dream that one day, Americans will see breasts as primarily life-giving and nourishing.
I have a dream that babies are carried instead of pushed, cuddled instead of prodded to be independent. One day, we will redefine spoiling as dying from disuse, rather than strengthening from love and closeness.
I have a dream that one day babies will sleep safely, close to their mother, as her breath regulates baby’s temperature and heart rate, ensuring his survival. One day, we will move beyond scare tactics and onto education.
I have a dream that we will relearn the lost art of gently responding to our baby’s elimination cues. One day, diapers will be optional.
I have a dream this Mother’s Day. I have a dream that we will know we are enough. That we mothers are more than enough. One day, we will turn within for the wisdom to mother our babies. One day, we will silence the “shoulds.”
I have a dream today. We will dance with our babies: tuning in, leading, following, leading, responding. One day, instead of trying to stuff our little ones into our small life, we will walk out into the grandeur of a new life together.
This is my hope. This is the hope I bring to playgrounds and playgroups, libraries and grocery stores. This is the hope I carry within me.
And when these come to pass, when women mother from their hearts and babies are nurtured deeply, from womb to walking, then let us join together, whether on Facebook or on our front lawn, and sing,
“Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty,
Motherhood is free at last.”
Megan McGrory Massaro is a mother, freelance writer, dreamer, and author. She wrote, The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year, a song to mothers everywhere, encouraging them to follow their heart.