A certain kind of solidarity exists among mothers when it comes to the waiting room outside Labor & Delivery. Those of us who have gone before, especially just recently (but I can imagine the feelings remain forevermore), know what’s happening inside. At some point I even recall the physical sensation of a contraction rising, the tight grip that moves from the outside of my hips inward and down, a wave pushing the baby toward the shore of its new world.
Contractions, a water breaking, a worrisome sign – any of these push the mama off the plank into a free fall. Once she hits the water of hard labor, the decent slows down. Moments become flashes of images. Time moves faster and slower all at the same time. She swims deeper and deeper into the pain, the fear, and the unknown. Someone shouts, “the head is out!” and she pushes herself from the bottom with all her might, climbing back up, up, up to the surface as hard as she can.
Mama lifts the baby and gives the cry of gratitude. We did it.
Every birth story is unique. The interplay of doctors and nurses, how pain was managed, the centimeters – all of these measure our depths at different points, but the dive is much the same.
So when the father or the doctor or the text finally emerges – mama and baby are fine! – the women, we join in our own cry of celebration. We remember gasping those first breaths of motherhood, sometimes more than once in our life. We take in another deep breath, in her honor.
We do this every time one of our own moves to the birth chamber. The intermittent hours, sometimes days, sit heavier as we know she’s diving deeper. We silently will her all of the things we discovered we needed in order to find the strength to climb back up, baby in arms.
Motherhood contains countless decisions about raising these babies, doing things right. But on the day of birth, those huddled around the maternity ward – in person or via group text – don’t care about any of them. We’re remembering our birth-days, not in a selfish but in an effort of solidarity. We’re with you, if only through our personal experience and how we now share in it together.
We’re with you, sister-mama.
A conversation with H Boy went from God being in our heart, to where our heart is, to the idea of a broken heart. He had all kinds of questions about what might break someone’s heart and how it could be put back together.
I thought, someday he’s going to endure a broken heart. And I will want to break the girl’s kneecap.
Our motherly instinct is to protect. We figure out how to teach, guard and stave off the encroaching threats to the tenderness of these little hearts. Even when they’re 16, 25 and 54, they’ll be our little hearts. We want nothing to bruise them.
My friend Patty B, one of those people everyone should meet, signed her email with an old Hasidic saying:
“It is not within our power to place the divine teachings directly in someone else’s heart. All that we can do is place them on the surface of the heart so that when the heart breaks they will drop in.”
We cannot force anything any more than we can protect from everything. Indeed, these are 2 sides of the same coin. Our job is neither to shield nor to shovel but to plant. From birth to 18, it’s all planting season. And as Paul puts it, we can plant and we can water but no one but God can make it grow.
The heart breaking, though excruciating, can be the conduit to greater capacities. It can open the floodgates. A broken heart is an open heart, one able to fully receive love if it has been amply planted and is readily available. Similarly, when unsupported, it could shut down the whole machine.
Seeds of hope, of grace, of mercy. Seeds of love, love, love. Seeds of acceptance, of value, of worth.
This is our best work. Not to raise children who escape life unscathed with love shallowly hidden under the surface, but to make it possible for the right seeds to get planted deeply within the heart as it cracks open.
I hear you’re coming. I’ve heard it for the totality of the 3+ years I’ve lived here, but things seem to be moving along. Now, I’m unfamiliar with the benefits of such bigger-than-big grocery stores, other than the fact that I can buy new furniture with my dog food. To tell you the truth, I don’t really want to buy those things together.
I’m a Meijer shopper through and through. It wasn’t necessarily because of specific incidents at your store. I can buy “last chance” bell peppers, 3-4 of them for just over a buck. The organics line, specifically in regards to the spaghetti sauce, is outstanding. The Mperks coupons generally fit my profile (though they’re notorious for not actually discounting my bill if I’m not careful. **Looking at you, Meijer**). The gas is cheap and 30 seconds from my house. All in all, I have no reason to switch.
I’m probably not your target demographic anyway, but I should be. I spend more money on my groceries than my mortgage. I’m trying to raise my little people to eat and enjoy healthy foods. I largely structure my week around meals. So, pretending you’re not aiming for extreme couponers (which I’m not), then let’s draw a picture of what it would take to get me to switch. It’s really just one thing, actually, with a few accessories.
A large space for my kids to run, jump, climb and slide.
That’s it. Seriously. If you have free wifi and a decent cup of coffee available nearby, I may never leave. You don’t even have to staff the place – however, I hear Giant Eagle does, wink wink - I just want to give someone other than McDonalds my $1.09 while I let my kids burn a bit of energy while I get a smidge of work done on the computer. I’ll even pay $1.50. Or $2 for the Starbucks. Whatever, man.
The concept is quite simple – and genius, really. I would stop by for an hour one morning to let the little ones go down the slide while I finish a bit of work and check my email and spend too much money on overpriced coffee. THEN I would remember that I’m out of chicken broth (which is a lie, because I make mine, but let’s go with that) for dinner. I gather my children, and while in the organics section I decide my little angels deserve a special little treat for behaving so well while in public. A box of granola bars, a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap and a bag of grapes because they’re on sale! and I’m headed out the door. Oh, and let’s not forget the endcaps of beer. We are raising several young children at one time and bedtime tends to invoke a small amount of imbibing.
Don’t you see how much money you will take from me? And you know what? I don’t care! Because I’d rather give you and extra $10 each week in unnecessary but usable organic groceries than my $1.09 that McDonald’s swipes on an irregular basis.
So, there you have it. Sales flourish. Shoppers switch. And if you instituted a you-scan-it method so I can bag while I shop? Sweet love of all the groceries, I might kiss your store manager. Grocery shopping could become a sweet oasis, nearly like that of IKEA. (Which, by the way, watches my children play while I get a free cup of coffee and enjoy free WIFI. That’s where I would buy furniture.)
Show me to the petitition to make this happen. I’d be glad to call and talk to your supervisor. We all know I’m right.