Yesterday I took my 9-month-old daughter to
the park for the first time. I expected her to be too little to play on any of
the equipment and to get sleepy when I took her on the bench swing. What I didn't
expect was to strike up a conversation with a woman in a full burqa.
me how old my daughter was and introduced me to her toddler. It was just a few
moments, but it was a connection with someone of a culture that I don't
understand enough about. We may have had completely different world views and
backgrounds, but we were both moms.
just … one of those things. You'll never fully understand it—the deep,
unrelenting love, the pain, the fear, the joy, and the heartbreak—unless
you've lived it. Despite what I've just said, based on encounters I've had with
people of different races, ages and cultures instigated by the fact that we
both have children with us, I've come to understand that motherhood is more
about inclusion than exclusion.
Motherhood is a vein of precious ore that runs through the bedrock of our female foundation.
universal. Motherhood is belonging. Motherhood is a vein of precious ore that
runs through the bedrock of our female foundation. I have discovered an
affinity with women I would otherwise have nothing in common with through discussing
motherhood, or simply knowing and acknowledging that they have children and so
do I. Unfortunately, I think it's something that is often taken for granted.
For example, I recently came
across quite a few reposts online of a woman who made signs for her twins'
stroller with the answers to several questions she was often asked when out and
about with her daughters. Even though she never actually left the house with
the signs on the stroller, and claims she meant no harm, I think it struck a
chord with a lot of people who feel uncomfortable engaging with strangers
regarding their children. I have found the exact opposite. When I get my daughter Alyssa
ready to go to the grocery store, I say, "Are you ready to be the star of the
I have reveled in
the connections I've made with strangers and women I know very well when
talking about my daughter was the catalyst. One of the first times I got out of
the house to run errands after my daughter was born, an elderly woman stopped
me in the parking lot, tears in her eyes. "Don't let a second pass you by," she
advised, "this time will go so fast. Promise me you'll cherish every moment." I
promised her. And I keep my promises. It may seem like a Hallmark card, but it
was stellar advice. I needed to hear it from someone who has lived a lifetime
and knows what's really important.
encountered a gray-bearded homeless man near a recycling center. He looked my
daughter in the eye as we rolled past and said, "I wish I could trade places
with you." We ended up talking for a while about my daughter's age, and how she
was born early. He was a sweet person who genuinely delighted just being in my
baby's presence. Here was a man I have to admit I would have physically avoided
if he hadn't talked to me first. Every time I pass the can redemption center, I
look for him. I haven't seen him since.
The silhouette of a mother holding a baby is a
symbol of universal love that connects many. I'm not a religious person, but I love looking at images of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus for that reason. Yes, the questions of "boy or girl?" Or "how old?" may get tedious, but I encourage you to engage with the identity of "mother"—it will enrich your already precious and breathtaking experience.