direct link: Mother of Milk
We each have our 'mother stories' -even childless women have a mother story. For those of us who had children, though, telling our stories is, I believe, important. Women's maternal experiences is a hidden subtext in culture that only began to be spoken out loud maybe in the last 30 years. There are other ways to construe reality than the ones the dominant ideologies give us. Let's let the mother speak - seriously! The paternal story, the 'important' history needs the current of the maternal story to balance it, give it greater depth and unity.
I had once made a flippant remark about how breastfeeding taught me to meditate. And, further, how I thought men in the days of yore meditating in semi-lotus sat like women breastfeeding and were trying to discover the bliss seen on her face. My flippant remark meant that I was jovially saying that meditation arose out of men's curiosity about what they witnessed while their women breastfed their babies. And, if it's true, what a beautiful cradle for meditation to grow from. Meditation is a very self-nurturing act.
Anyway, the leader of the La Leche League in Toronto, a Waldorf mother, and my kids were at the Waldorf at that time, overheard me. Uh, oh! What I'd flippantly said would make some yogic-type men angry and a lot of women deny that there is any connection. But Erin was intrigued. Next thing I knew, I was invited to speak at a La Leche League meeting, a place of support for women breastfeeding their babes. Well, it wasn't a very coherent or articulate talk!
When ARM put out a call for papers at a conference at York University on Motherhood and Spirituality in 2003, I wrote my story, an interweaving of lifewriting and prosepoetry. Since I lived in Vancouver at the time and wasn't sure I could afford to fly to Toronto to present it in person, I recorded it on video. So glad I did! My mother paid for the trip, and rather than reading it at the conference I showed the video on a large screen and got lots of amazing feedback. The personal essay was published by Mother's Movement Online and is still available at: mothersmovement.org/essays/bclews/BClews0404.htm
I stand in an odd place theoretically on sexual difference, but I agree basically that there is difference. Thought not that there are 'man traits' and 'woman traits' so much as our bodily experiences shape our consciousness of the world to a greater degree than is generally believed.
My 'woman body/mother body' experiences have shaped my consciousness, and my beliefs, in many ways.
This talk is regarding that: an embodied consciousness.
Please see my Birthdance page at my website for more on this subject - particularly The Notebook of the Maternal Body for more discussion on our cultural maternal subtext, its hiddenness, and the video talk, How Can We Be Different and the Same? on sexual difference as it pertains to the maternal body (from a paper I wrote in 2004- I'm still adding images to the video to spruce it up a bit visually and will upload to YouTube when the final version is finished).