Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Dear D,

At the family gathering on Thursday, you asked, "Have you learned to drive yet?". I responded, "I already know how to drive. I accidentally let my license expire when I lived in NYC and I haven't had time to retest". And what you said next was shocking. You said, "Well, you're not working,'re just a mom".

After the initial recoil at your words, I took some time to consider how to respond. I could say nothing and let it go, but doing so would not serve either of us. Silence does not feel cohesive to my authentic self, nor does it give you the opportunity to evolve and walk this earth with a little more grace. I decided to speak to this publicly because I find your remark insulting on many levels, not only to me personally, but to all women, to all mothers. The remark you made says a lot about the detached attitude of our society. What made your comment all the more appalling was that you are also a mother, although your child is now an adult. I am disheartened to think that you may have forgotten what an honor it is to be born female, to feel the fluttering new human life within your body and to experience the knee bending, otherworldly power of birth - the divine realization that our uniquely female bodies are the portal to this planet and the awesome responsibility of nurturing a new generation of beings.

Yes, I believe it's a privilege to be a mother, as I'm sure the dear souls who are trying so hard to conceive would attest. I believe it is more than wiping butts and doing laundry for sweet little children who are unable to do that for themselves. And yet, why should these selfless acts of love be seen as less important, less honorable than the corporate butt wiping that comes with a paycheck? I think it's sad that ones sense of worth as women and mothers should be defined and confined by the parameters of currency. One glance at the current economy will demonstrate that the value of the dollar is unstable. Try selling your used things at a yard sale and you'll get a very clear picture of how very little your possessions are worth.

Motherhood is invaluable.

You know nothing about me or how I spend my days or what I can accomplish in the few predawn hours before my son awakes. You have never seen what my hands can make. You have no clue as to what feeds my soul. In the four years since we met, we have exchanged only a handful of words, so I can only conclude that your remark is a sad reflection of how you see yourself. Being a mom should never be devalued with the word "just" and I do feel pity for you for having said it. For me, being a mother is one MORE beautiful part of who I am...a title that I am most grateful for. For me there is no "just" in being a mom, it is all encompassing, it is:

knowing my son's dreams because he talks in his sleep; it is fairy houses; rainbow bubbles and pirate ships; it is skinned knees and salty tears; it is breathless laughter, swing sets and jumping on the bed; it is windy days, grassy hill tops and kites; it is wide eyed wonder, warm summer eves and fireflies; it is the rumble of red wagons and tricycles; it is hot cocoa celebrations with the first snow; it is tents, tipis and tree climbing; it is dimpled fistfuls of dandelions and clover; it is mud pies and sidewalk chalk; it is the scent of crayons in the sunshine and the sweetness of cookie crumbs in unexpected places; it is oh so much more...

It is the reawakening to the beauty of being and the restoring of wonder so often dulled in adulthood; it is the daily recollection of the child I once was and the blessed recognition of the woman I've become and shall remain...

fully, totally, entirely, wholly, completely, eternally....Satchel's mother.

Lastly, D, in the unlikely event that you may read my diary, I want to make one thing perfectly clear. If you ever again confuse my dear son and undermine my authority as his mother by deliberately coercing him to do something he knows that his parents do not allow and further upset his sense of unity by attempting to argue with me about it in front of him, you will no longer have the privilege of being anywhere near him without me or his father present.

To all the beautiful mamas who read my diary, if you ever find yourself disheartened by the flippant words of a dispassionate person or the subtle messages of a disconnected society, may they never resonate within you, but rather serve as kindling to strengthen the flames of your self worth. May you know without a doubt that your life contains many beautiful colors that need not be revealed to those incapable of seeing them. And should anyone ever challenge the sanctity of your family with disrespectful behavior, may your wild mammal heart have the courage to rear up and bare her teeth.

I'll be back in a few days, as promised, but not before offering you this blessing:

May the beauty of your life become more visible to you that you may glimpse your wild divinity.

May you discover a new generosity towards yourself and encourage yourself to engage your life as a great adventure.

May the outside voices of fear and despair find no echo in you.

May you always trust the urgency and wisdom of your own spirit.

- John O'Donohue


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posted by Wendy at 8:12 AM


Blogger Love Squalor said...

yes! beautiful, powerful words from a beautiful, powerful MAMA! Thank you for this Wendy.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet, if only D and we could all "just" mother. Bringing all of our power, potency, intelligence and magic and none of the judgment. The world is enriched beyond measure those moments when I am just a mother. Absolutely nothing is lost.

People can never hide their fear and intimidation, can they? It bubbles up in gusts.

I hope you don't mind if I consider you just a mother in the most reverential sense of the word.
You are the kindest of the kind.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Summer said...

Just a mom..

There are no words I hate more than "just a mom". Thank you for writing this.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Carrie at Rhubarb Sky said...

I have struggled so many times with this issue. . the devaluing of my work as a mother. I got this question the other day, "So, now that Abby's in school more, are you going to get a job?"
I could not help but respond tersely with: "I have a pretty big job right now. I work hard ALL day long!" He shrugged and said, "oh, I meant besides all that stuff."

I had to walk away.
Thank you for your words here. They are so VERY important.
(and the balloon thing. . . I had NO idea!).

12:22 PM  
Anonymous vickie said...

so well said...

12:36 PM  
Blogger jenica said...

i have nothing but tears to add.
thank you.


1:04 PM  
Anonymous the peaceful peacock said...

I'm hooked. you're awesome. bring it on, you mammal mama!!! *j

3:19 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I am in tears... so powerful.
First, let me say, to echo you, there is no such thing as JUST a mom... it's everything.

thanks for your beauty, your awesomeness, your you-ness.

Keep rocking it!
xoxoxox M

4:49 PM  
Blogger wayfarer said...

well said. i keep telling my husband this same thing...our society has so much wrong with it when it comes to these priorities. I'm the only stay at home mom in my neighborhood that i know. There are some that don't work, but the kids trot off to daycare and preschool regardless. I met a woman in the park a few months ago and she wanted to set up a playdate. I told that would be great. When i went i was greeted by the babysitter. I was floored. Kids now often spend more time with their caretakers than their parents. I find it sad. I'm getting judgmental now but i so hear what you are saying. I'm always criticized that i'm babying my son too much because i keep him home with me instead of sending him off. I can't help it. I like my kid, i want to spend as much time with him as i can before he goes off to school.

Thank you for writing this.

Just another mom. ;-)

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having just started the process of fertility treatment to achieve a very dear dream that term 'just a mom' is so hurtful and it's so sad that there are people that really have no idea who runs the world - the mothers.

6:12 AM  
Blogger pixie said...

Tears here, too, Mama. Thank you for being the voice and the words that most of us cannot form for the chokedupness that comes from such hard words. If only each person could be mothered like Satchel, they would have compassion in their hearts instead of what D has.
You are a sparkling jewel in my life, Wendy.

p.s. Wiping Corporate Butts needs to be on a tshirt.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Elise said...

Hi Wendy

"Just a mum". Shame, shame, shame on ANYONE that uses the words "just" and "mum" in the same sentence. Like you, I pity such people.

I admire the reasons you put forward as to why you are responding and the way in which you chose to do so.

The imagery that you created in the papragraph about some of the things it means to be a mum was so touching and I could relate to every single one of those scenarios. I felt overwhelming joy and pride when I read this. Being a mum is a privielge, one of the greatest.

I want a t-shirt that says: I'M A MUM. Why should my selfless acts of love be seen as less important, less honourable than the corporate butt wiping that comes with a paycheck? Wendy Cook.

10:50 PM  

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