There was a time hundreds of years ago when, and likely still is, in remote villages in Africa and Asia, where the women of a tribe or community know exactly how to take care of each other. I would like to imagine that in this place, it is one of their most important daily activities; taking care of each other and the children, and the elderly, and of course, the men.
There have been moments in my life, and many since this pregnancy, when I have longed for this kind of tribal bond with a group of wise women– women who know what herbs to make tea from for morning sickness, what flowers and oils to mix to rub into an exhausted sore body, what songs to sing to soothe a troubled mind, or to help transport a sister to the spiritual space beyond the mind.
I have described the experience of the previous births of my children to a few friends in terms of this kind of reality; I literally heard the beat of drums, the whispers of encouragement from my female ancestors, felt the flames of the fire against my skin, knew how to follow the ashes and sparks into the dark sky as the intensity of laboring deepened.
I am now in the final days or possibly (but hopefully not) weeks before my third child, my first daughter, is going to be born. I am feeling the urge to retreat inward– if there was a tent, or cave, that I could enter, that is where I would be. I imagine a small group of women there with me, who don’t need to speak, or do anything out of habit or boredom or restlessness, and yet, know exactly what to pull from the silence at any given moment. They know what foods to give me, what fabrics and colors and threads to weave as we sit together. We are not waiting, though we are preparing, but not with any sense of spinning, or panic. No one knows exactly what will happen when, but each woman’s wisdom sees certain elements of what I have left to learn, what will happen next and how.
In this space, we would not worry about whether or not it was enough to be a mother, or whether we were not good mothers for also enjoying our work outside of the home. We would not feel insecure of the strengths we lack, but recognize in each other, nor would we prey upon each other’s weaknesses because of our own jealousies. There would be space for all of us to love each other without fear that some of us might be loved more than others. Because we would know, especially as women, that there is no container large enough to hold the love we all are given; we only learn as best as we can, to follow the trickle of a stream to the vastness of the ocean.
We all carry our secrets: shame, fear, anger and more. And yet, in this space, there is no reason to blame ourselves for what we didn’t know then; we’ve always done our best to survive; we’ve risen from many fires, and will inevitably be consumed again and again by the flames of life’s struggles; by those karmic lessons waiting to be learned. We can look in each other’s eyes and see the pain of truth, the lies of fear, and the beauty of hope and faith. We can laugh together, and hold each other, and relish in the covenant of trust that is the foundation of sisterhood.
I recently had the opportunity to gather with a small group of female friends to celebrate the impending arrival of my daughter. They knew what foods and drinks to bring, the space to create, the gifts to give. We sat around the table, painting and sewing, dreaming and laughing, fussing and oohing over our small creations. We spoke of our lives, we laughed and agreed as we compared our men, we shook our heads, we smiled and breathed.
After everyone had left, I realized, I had found my dream, my cave, my space. These friends came here to my home and blessed it with their wisdom and love and grace. As I sit now in my home, and continue to prepare for the arrival of my little goddess, I am overwhelmed with gratitude, that this group of women came together, and knew exactly what to do– they gave me exactly what I needed– and my heart is so full.
There is one who is so beautiful, and yet thinks it is not enough to inspire the world with her simple beauty, and so lets her mind become more than it needs to be; there is another who has known so much suffering and has risen to become endlessly loving, generous, and gentle; one whose heart is so vast and tender, who has tried to prove herself as stronger and better than she never needed to be; another who faces the world as flint, creator of spark, who perhaps forgets to receive the fire of love within her very being; the wise quiet one, who mostly listens, and when speaks, brings laughter and nods of the deepest truths; and the one who spins creativity tirelessly, effortlessly, loyally, beautifully.
Which one are you, if not all of these, my friend? And how could I not be so humbled to know you?
Thank you, for being exactly who you are. Soul sister. Inspirer. Nurturer. Anchor. Friend.