Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mother as a verb

The instincts of a mother are never far from home no matter where on earth you may find yourself. As we learned today, the word mother is a powerful word when used as a verb rather than a noun. Today, we travelled a short distance away to visit a home for orphans and sick and dying babies. Most of us were in familiar territory as we stepped into the building and were immediately greeted with outstretched arms and smiles. The need to mother was everywhere we looked. The children who are part of the orphanage, many of whom are being adopted out by Minnesota families, rule the top floor. They love the team visits and kept asking us where our bubbles and balloons were. One young girl, in particular, ruled the roost and somehow had all of us following her Creole directions. I got a big kick out of one young boy who was the "gatekeeper" of the group. He would sit in a chair by the gate, not letting any of the children go downstairs, and would bang on a tambourine for attention.

I headed downstairs, after some fun time with the orphans, as I felt the need to mother some of the sick children. The cribs are lined up end to end, with the sickest child usually in the corner by the oxygen. The sights and smells are not a welcome sight to any person, especially a mother. To see the desperation, to hear the sounds of sadness and to smell the aura of sickness was one that will travel with me even when I depart from here. My instincts kicked in and I dodged the IV lines and picked up a 7 month old who was too weak to cry. We headed outside, sat in the shade and we both held each other tight. No toys, no balloons, no bubbles were needed on the first floor. Just the love of a mother. To mother, was all that was required.

We stayed here for a few hours, holding these children, praying for them while they were in our arms, soaking in every minute to give them some love. We didn't know their future, we only knew what was happening then and for that moment, they were given love.

To be a mother to someone does not have to mean that you have given birth to them. To paraphrase from the book Expecting Adam, "Mothering has little to do with biological reproduction - there are women who bear and raise children without ever mothering them, and there are people who mother all their lives without ever giving birth. Not all of us have the good fortune to be born to our real mothers or to stay with them as long as we need them."

Despite everything that works against these children in this sometimes unpleasant and complicated place, mothering was in abundance today. There was no short supply. We mothered.

Written by Julie Sexson

1 comment:

  1. We are "global" mothers. Loved your story Julie. Thanks for sharing.