Monday, May 15, 2006

What makes a mother?

I have been thinking a lot about this, and fully intended to blog about it before Mother's Day. But, Saturday afternoon, as it percolated in my brain while I mowed the backyard, Dyke Two called me in to the house and showed me the contents of Bigfella's diaper. There was blood and mucus in his pants. Understandably, we got a little distracted by Bigfella's wellbeing, and I quickly dropped the blog entry from the forefront of my head, and focused instead on the quality and quantity of Bigfella's poops. (Five years ago, I would have shot myself in the head if I ever thought I would be examining someone else's bowel output, let alone googling about it, staying up late thinking about it or asking random people on the street about it). But, since Bigfella has a doctor's appointment in a couple of hours, and I have learned more than I care to think about bloody baby poop, I am ready to try again...

So, what makes a mother? We know people become mothers through birth or adoption, but there is more to mothering than a legal or biological connection. I think of Dyke Two who is neither a legal nor a biological mother to our son, but is so clearly his Mama. I think about our friend Nancy, whose only child, a son, died three years ago at the age of 20 of a freak brain aneurysm. Nancy is still a mom, even if the child she mothers is no longer with us. i think about our friend Jen, who lost her daughter during the breakup with Liz, because the state did not recognize Jen as a mother. I think about my stepmother, who is clearly a mother to me, and a grandmother to Bigfella. I have been blessed to have two moms since long before my father made the brilliant decision to marry my stepmom.

So, motherhood does not require a legal or biological connection. As I mowed, I realized that I spent last Mother's Day mowing my backyard, and that I also spent last Mother's Day squirting swimmers up my hoo-ha. That realization made me wonder when exactly I became a mother. I still swear that as the sperm entered my uterus that afternoon last Mother's Day, I felt some warmth and tingling as something much larger than the tiny vial of sperm entered my life. I truly believe that I felt Bigfella's creation as the sperm and egg met. At that moment, I knew I was a mother, but in restrospect, I think I was a mother before that. As I pushed the mower through knee high weeds, I thought about all of my friends, both online and in real life, who are doggedly continuing their pursuit of motherhood, as they chart their cycles, swallow their pills, wrestle with the dildocam, screw on demand (the straight coupled ones), order sperm from their source and squirt (the not-straight coupled ones) on the best schedule they can determine from the information they have. Society does not call them mothers yet, because they don't have babies, but I think they are mothers already.

I realized that motherhood began for me when I began to swallow those prenatal vitamins, changed my diet and exercise regimen and stopped drinking--all to make my body and life more welcoming and safe for a person I had never met. Motherhood for me began when somebody else's needs became more important than my own. It is clear that Dyke Two puts Bigfella's needs over her own, even without the legal and biological connection. And if that's when motherhood begins, then all of my friends, both those whose children are no longer with them and those whose children are not yet with them, are mothers.

So, on this day after Mother's Day, I recognize and send my love to those overlooked yesterday: the childless mothers. And, I urge you all to do the same: hug your partners, call your friends, send an email to those far away, order flowers and chocolates to be delivered to their offices. And, in your honor, I share this prayer:

We enter into this stage of our lives consciously, aware of the tremendous responsibilities involved in bringing a new life into the world.

With this responsibility we also acknowledge the hopes and dreams that we share. Dreams for a bright future filled with joy and warmth of family, and hope that the world will become and remain a truly hospitable place – a world worth living in.

We pledge ourselves to continue working towards Tikkun Olam – making the world a more perfect place. With this in mind as we prepare to join together in conceiving a child – we give Tzedakah to ___________. This money is a symbol of the actual work we must do to make this world worthy of a new presence.

At this time we wish to acknowledge to one another that should we find conception impossible, we both look favorably on the prospect of adopting and welcoming a child into this family as our own.

Let us now call down the Holy sparks of divinity to join our union in Creating a new life – sparked by the Divine.


At 6:14 PM, Blogger Mo said...

I love this tribute to ALL moms. And I hope Bigfella is fine.

At 10:49 PM, Blogger art-sweet said...

Thanks so much for this beautiful prayer.

Hoping that Bigfella and his intestines are A-OK.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Pixie said...

How beautiful.
I have been reading your blog for a few weeks...I love your candid attitude and witty words. This post brought tears to my eyes.
Thank you for the thoughfulness, the reminder and the wonderful prayer,
Lissa (mom to Jade)

At 1:08 PM, Blogger Whimsy said...

I'm resurfacing from family and work drama and starting to read the blogs again and this was such a wonderful re-entry point. Thank you.

Keep us posted on Bigfella!

By the way, I think being a mother itself, a conscientious, conscious parent, a lesbian parent- a good parent- That's tikkun olam all by itself.


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