Oh Mother

It’s been a thought-provoking week in the mother ’hood…

Just in time for Mother’s Day, Time magazine screamed ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH? at all the grown-ups within reach. As every mom keeping an eye on the internet knows, this wayward behavior was to seek attention for a story about attachment parenting and why it allegedly “drives some mothers to extremes.” Since Time’s cover image of the mother breastfeeding her three-year-old son was akin to a toddler’s “look at me, look at me, look at me” routine, we’ll ignore that. (Yes, the child was standing on a chair, wearing running shoes and looking old enough to sign up for T-Ball. Ignore.) Breasts are mammary glands. Their function is to feed young offspring.

For less tantrum and more attachment-parent reasoning, Annie Urban’s (indoor) voice at www.care2.com provides a constructive and positive response.

Rolling right along, the day after Mother’s Day the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial page featured a piece entitled When life begins is a vital debate, dealing with the latest push to reopen the abortion file. “I struggled mightily with the abortion question for two decades. After much thought and reflection, I’ve quietly switched from being slightly pro-choice to slightly pro-life,” notes the column, written by Michael Taube.

Is that like being slightly pregnant?

Yesterday, columnist David Warren and a male letter-writer added their “pro-life” opinions.  Hmmm. (There’s a pattern here – and it’s not baldness.)

What strikes me, always, is the self-reflective, very human – sometimes inhumane – nature of this debate.

Last time I gave birth (it was in Kingston, Ontario), I had a discussion with the male obstetrician there to help.  He told me he had received death threats as a result of his commitment to providing health care.

Hours later, while walking and cuddling my newborn, I encountered another mom and just-born baby. I remember her excitement and his beautiful, beautiful head full of thick black hair. The first of that baby’s seizures started a few days later. Life, as his extended family had known it, shattered. Not expected to live, the baby did live. Last time I heard, he was profoundly disabled, in need of extensive care around the clock, and his parents’ marriage had ended.

It was in Kingston, too, that a boy named Daniel once ran for federal election under the pro-life banner. He was a high school student.

I am inclined to defend life – by drawing your attention to this:

Based on 2010 Unicef figures, over 24,000 children under age five die every day, mainly from preventable causes. Almost 40 percent of those deaths happen in the neonatal period, the first month of life.

 “Each year more than 500,000 women die in childbirth or from complications during pregnancy. Babies whose mothers have died during childbirth have a much greater chance of dying in their first year than those whose mothers remain alive. Ninety nine percent of maternal and newborn mortality occurs in the developing world, where more than 50 per cent of women still deliver without the assistance of skilled health personnel,” Unicef reports.

Lives just starting end daily – every three seconds, actually – for want of adequate care.

Perhaps it’s my mothering instinct, but I do hope advocates championing the right to life also include those lives outside the womb and their right to the necessities of life – including healthy food.

In all the pro-this and pro-that discourse, life too often seems to be regarded as though it’s a marble rolling around in a pocket for 40-odd weeks until it’s pulled out for action. As though the pocket and marble are separate entities. As though the condition of the pocket and what else goes into it – or not – don’t shape the marble and determine its capacity to roll out and down the alley.

Kids, look at mommy.

It’s time to tidy-up and put on our thinking caps: Let’s try, always, to be kind, respectful and tolerant of others. And mind the marbles. 

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