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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Given in Love

Cross-posted from Catherine's blog, Everyday Life as Lyric Poetry.

I am weaving my way through the crowded auditorium, baby crying in the sling, earnestly trying to get out of the service and into the "cry" room before the fussing becomes screaming.

With small children going anywhere often seems like more trouble than its worth, and church is no exception. More often than not getting out of the house is just a lot of hassle in order to do the same menial childcare tasks in a less conducive environment. We are visitors today; I have special reason for wanting to be present. Instead this outing becomes just one more opportunity to be banished from adult conversation.

Finally finding the room, I pause and read the sign on the door. "Breastfeeding Mothers Only" it reads. Great. Not only am I to be relegated to a closet, but my sex determines that I am the only one in the family who can be. Putting my hand on the handle, I push the door open.

My senses and emotions are flooded before my mind has a chance to take it in. The room is dimly lit, perfect for soothing a child or a mommy's soul - it offers itself immediately as a sanctuary. The furniture is nice, comfortable. All my logistical needs are anticipated - there are Boppy pillows and tissue, a water pitcher and glasses. A silver tray is laid out with communion wafers and cups, awaiting my participation. Next to it is a plaque which reads: "Mother, what you have given in love has become part of me. I thank God always for you."

Immediately there are tears rolling down my face. I hadn't known I felt invisible until I felt seen. I hadn't realized the ceaseless sacrifices of Motherhood felt so frequently undervalued until someone showed me honor and value because of them.

Far from being relegated to a closet, I nursed and rocked my baby in tranquility. Far from being singled out for a lesser experience because of I was a breastfeeding mother, I lingered in the refuge created just for me.

It so often seems that the ongoing sacrifices of Motherhood lead not to a place of honor in society, but actually to a lack of status, a lack of desirability and value. The reasons and subtleties of this are many, but I was truly surprised to see the toll it had taken on me, the deep, deep place that was touched for the first time by the thoughtful preparations that someone in this church made for me, and others like me.

This is actually the second time I've had a significantly memorable experience in this same church's Cry Room, though each were in different buildings and for different reasons. Thank you, for seeing me, and for valuing me. Thank you, for thinking of the details that we must always be thinking of. Thank you, for caring not only for those with the freedom to sit quietly and think, but also for those of us who are called away to continue working and giving.

"Mother, what you have given in love has become part of me. I thank God always for you."


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