And, once the love of your life is free from the fleshy fortress of Planet Mom, the true meaning of vulnerability becomes even more evident.
When you’re with your baby, you wonder if you’re doing everything right.
When you’re not with your baby, you’re hoping everyone caring for him or her is doing it right – and trying really hard to not call and check.
Nobody wants to be “That Mom”, the one who loses sight of everything but her sweet cherub once he enters the world.
But here’s a secret.
Sometimes, you will love the island it feels like you and your wee charge are on. You’ll look at the waves of the world, lapping at your feet, demanding your attention.
You’ll wish you had a dam, to push the waves away, securing the island as the safe spot where you can bunker down and treasure your time together with no distractions.
Other times, you’ll catch a glimpse of distant land from your perch, and wistfully calculate how long it would take to swim there. You’ll pine for the world, the conversations, the sometimes petty but always amusing diversions.
But when you push out into it, you almost immediately yearn to dig your toes back into the warm sand of Baby Island.
The most fraught feeling I’ve had to reconcile with as a mom: the fact that the world beyond our island is beyond my control.
I can keep my own precious charges safe (or, at least, I kid myself I have this power, as it allows me to sleep…) but there are so many babies in the world who are not in safe places, whose mamas want so dearly to feed them and keep them from harm – but who can’t.
Also tough to reconcile: the fact that there is real evil in the world. Evil that knows children and babies, innocent beings, will suffer at their choices- but callously make them anyway.
As moms, it’s understandable to want to stay on our island -to shield our eyes from issues we seemingly can’t affect.
The weight of the world is ten times heavier, once you have a new perspective of what’s at stake.
I did for the first few years I was a mom, because the alternative was too terrifying.
If I started to really look at all the babies I couldn’t help, all the moms who weren’t as comfortable on their island as I was, then I feared my powerlessness would sink me into the sea.
I stopped reading newspapers – sometimes a story would catch me off guard, and leave me clutching my toddler, sobbing soggy tears into his hair. The world was too big, and I was just one mom.
But the meaning of being just One mom changed for me last summer. I was part of a trip to Kenya with ONE.org, with a group of fellow bloggers- #ONEmoms. And for the rest of my life, I feel a responsibility to try to be a life raft.
To sit, comfortable and dry, when I can see that other moms are quietly and desperately losing their precious ones to the tide- that is no longer an option for me.
Hearing the voices of moms who lost their babies to famine or disease, listening to their pain- the death of their babies secures the fact that they would never find the brighter future they sought.
As long as they had their children, there was a tenacity in their quest to make life secure. They had been born to a hard fate, but they still wrestled to master it.
How do you extinguish a mother’s light? Make her a mother without a child.
I’ve been there, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
The strength I’ve met in my peer moms in Africa inspires me to reach beyond my insular, relatively extremely safe life – and encourage every mom I know to find their passion, and live it loud.
It may not be the same as mine, which is trying to secure as many resources as I can for women to have safe births, and children to have long, safe childhoods.
But whatever it is – I guarantee you it will have a much, much wider ripple effect then you can see at the moment.
You matter. Your voice matters. Don’t be afraid to lift it.
What would you do to change the world, if you weren’t afraid it wouldn’t have impact?
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs September 19 to October 16, 2011. A random winner will be announced by October 18, 2011.