Every mother in the world wants the same thing: a healthy pregnancy, a safe birth, and a baby who will thrive. For millions of moms, basic healthcare and services are out of reach. In her article, The Shared Bond of Motherhood, Chrysula Winegar shares her take on parenting and how much it means for moms across the world to be able to have access to the same experience.
When a mother is awake to the needs and hopes of her sisters around the world, something profound happens. We become connected through a powerful bond that can transcend borders, religion and status. I can talk to a mother anywhere in the world about her children, and immediately we have a framework for understanding something about each other’s lives. I remember standing at a bus stop in New York City with my newborn daughter. An older lady draped in a fur coat and diamonds started speaking to me. My first thought was, “what could we possibly have in common?” She asked me if I was breastfeeding my daughter. I thought it an odd question, but as this was something that had come easily for me, I replied I was. And then she started to cry.
As we waited at that bus stop, she shared memories of having her two children in the 1950s, of being told by doctors and nurses not to breastfeed, of having her babies removed from her, and of the many interventions and rules that dominated childbirth during that time in the United States. I was left with a small insight into her deep grief, still felt almost 60 years later, at not being allowed some key experiences with her babies. I was transformed by the realization I had judged her before I knew anything about her. And grateful she had not done the same to me, or I would have missed a most treasured exchange – one that has stayed with me for almost 15 years.
I’ve been mothered by many mothers. My own, my mother-in-law, my sisters-in-law, women in my church, women in my various neighborhoods, women I’ve worked and partnered with professionally, dear friends. I’ve been mothered by women living in extremes of desperate poverty and great wealth. I’ve been mothered at bus stops and by campfires. I found that in becoming a mother, I needed mothering from others all the more. – CHRYSULA WINEGAR, Global Moms Challenge