Reflections upon seeing my best friend mother for the first time

There are moments when the future rushes in and you are suddenly faced with the reality of time passing. As I watched my best friend since third grade care for her newborn baby yesterday, the proverbial wind was knocked out of me. Megan, the little freckle-faced girl with whom I used to choreograph Madonna dances, ride bikes through Monument Valley Park, and cry on the phone from our respective colleges is now a mother, and a damn natural and inspiring one at that.

It made me think a lot about the invisible and profound transition between non-mother and mother. Megan has always been maternal, always loved babies and cared for them naturally. (We had a co-owned babysitting business as tweens; we would take good care of the kids, but our favorite part was when they would go to bed and we would raid the kitchen and watch movies till the parents got home.) But it was still wild to see her as an actual mother, to see her both exhausted and overjoyed by the prospect of being responsible for her little fella for the rest of their lives. I feel a fraction of that responsibility for him, by virtue of being so close to his momma, but I know it is nothing in comparison to what she feels.

Is this what makes women mothers–a sense of eternal responsibility, the deepest possible manifestation of our interdependence? Babies are so incredibly helpless. As I would sit with baby C in my arms, feeding him a bottle, or experiencing him nuzzling into my armpit and falling fast asleep, I was so aware of how fragile and helpless he is, how completely dependent he is on Megan. And in turn, I was humbled by how courageous and committed she is to be embarking on this journey of raising another human being.

If feminism is, at heart, about recognizing our interdependence and fighting for the care and consideration of others, it makes even more sense to me why people so often frame mothering as a radical feminist act.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted January 12, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Being unselfish, nurturing, and present in the lives of infants is a radical expression of love to me because it is sadly so rare in the rest of human behavior. It is a sacrificial gesture in a world not always inclined to be self-sacrifical.

    And while on the subject, I include this verse.

    There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

  2. Posted January 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Courtney, thank you for this beautiful reflection.

    As a woman who is about to become a parent for the second time, I have been wrestling with a lot of issues surrounding my identity.

    I had my first child at the age of 19. I raised her (from the age of 2 years on) as a single mother, with the help of my own single mother. She is now almost 17. Over those years, I worked hard and went through college and completed two master’s degrees. The same month I finished my MA in Counseling (and a clinical practicum working with survivors of sexual violence) I found out that I was pregnant. I am 36 and ready to follow my calling/passion in this field of work. So, throughout my pregnancy and inability to find work (people aren’t interested in hiring a pregnant woman), I have been in an active process of recalibration. I started a project to raise money for a local rape crisis center that I do volunteer ER advocacy work with (http://bluescarfproject.wordpress.com) and have been contemplating life as a new mother, which is now 7 weeks away. It’s been a challenge to reconcile the many aspects of my identity, even as I celebrate the anticipated arrival of this new person in our lives. Your post has really helped me to glue some thoughts and feelings together. Thank you.

    • Posted January 12, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      I should clarify….I became a single mother when my daughter was 2 years old. The way I worded it sounded like I didn’t start raising her until she was 2.

  3. Posted January 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Yes Yes Yes! More of this please.

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