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mother

To Be Mother

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To Be Mother

This leaf was a gift from my youngest, and the pride with which she presented it to me made it ten times more special.

This leaf was a gift from my youngest, and the pride with which she presented it to me made it ten times more special.

Deeply thinking about what called me to this path after giving birth always fills me with an overload of words. At times I feel more poetic, more fluid and more at ease. At other times I feel angry at the world for sacrificing birth to the patriarchy, and then I instantly feel that I need to work ten times harder to try and change the direction we're headed. This is because I used to think my power lied in my ability to work incredibly hard no matter what the universe put in my path. Being powerful meant to not need breaks and to be uninfluenced by physical pains and discomforts. If I was strong and powerful, I could do anything, at any time, in spite of all limitations.

At this specific moment, however, I feel that power doesn't mean what I once thought it meant.

Personally, I find my power in writing.

I find it in being gentle with my daughters and taking the time to communicate fully with them so they can know themselves and what it means to be a mother.

I find it in the connections I make with the beautiful women I work with, and the complete lack of judgment I feel toward them. I now see these women as my sisters, and in this perspective there lies so much power. I am grateful.

I also find my power in being slow, in being feminine and in always making educated and informed choices. It is true what they say about knowledge being power. My most recent challenges wouldn't have had such positive outcomes if gaining knowledge about them wasn't at the forefront of my mind always.

But most of all, more than any of the above, I find my power hidden beneath the debris of my most destructive days. It is there, in the center, burning away what once seemed so important but now reveals itself to me as nothing more than distractions that reach no deeper than the surface of my Self. This type of revelation is so powerful that entire karmic cycles feel as though they've broken in an instant. And thus, my power is empowered by my ability to ebb and flow with the current, to know when to lean one way and to know to listen closely when something inside tells me I am correct in my inklings.

I wrote the following one night many months ago while my husband worked late and my babies slept soundly. It was around the time I first began to really understand my own power and my motivations as a mother, as a doula and as a woman overall. I find it to still be relevant, and so I share it here nearly half a year later.


I am a seeker of justice, and I see the handling of birth as one of the most consequential and important injustices of America's history to date. This can happen no longer. We as women must reclaim what nature intended us to be: powerful, authentic, confident, comfortable, nurturing and tuned in to the moon. We shall not continue to be overly timid, polite, modest, pretty and obedient. It is time to find our strength within ourselves, and to help the women around us to do the same.

Have you heard your intuition speak to you before? It has a beautiful, enticing voice that fills you with contentedness and complete assuredness. Slow your quickening thoughts for a moment. Feel your body and its heaviness. Embrace its steadiness. Allow the voice of your intuition to open the silence and fill your spirit with knowing.

Trust. Accept. Follow. Allow your problems to be provided solutions. Allow your warrior to emerge, as though she is finally returning home from battle. Allow the you that is mother {and we are all mother in our own way, whether or not we have a child}, to BE love, and BE feminine mystery.

When we see the you that is mother, we cannot take our eyes off of her, nor do we desire to. She is much too beautiful to turn away from, and we crave the comfort she provides.

To be mother is to be strong, fierce, powerful and inspired.

To be mother is to be selfless, to be a muse and to be a source of peace, ever soft, ever warm, ever beautiful.

And for those who do have children, to have you be their mother is for them to have a center and a nest; safety and comfort. They do not feel alone and they do not feel uneasy. They are yours and they hope to remain yours for so very long. Remember that you are the mother your child needs. It wouldn't have been any other way.

Let us all rise and bloom as the Earth intended, so that we may replenish it with the life-giving force of the mother.

My first muse, sweet "Floralei."

My first muse, sweet "Floralei."

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Slow

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Slow

There was a summer storm three days ago. It was unexpected, but much enjoyed. The weather was warm and humid and the skies were gray, then blue, then gray again. The rain poured, then drizzled, then stopped, then poured and drizzled again. And it was beautiful.

The girls decided to sleep in until 9 a.m. that morning, but my phone, unfortunately, decided to NOT push the reminder for a breastfeeding class I was supposed to attend at 9:30 a.m. My joy at the extra two hours of sleep was quickly transformed into panic when I realized I was going to have to bust my slightly curvier mama butt to pump some milk and get both kids fed, dressed, packed up, out the door and delivered to my parents in a totally unreasonable amount of time. Moments before I decided to just skip pumping, take Isla with me to the class and walk out the door with my babies in their PJs, I messaged the instructor that I was running late. She replied with the most glorious words right as I buckled Lorelei into her car seat:

“Oh, I was actually going to cancel the class today!”

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I hate being late, like, really hate it, so it was a total blessing that the universe aligned in such a way. Though I need this class to fulfill a certification requirement, I’d much rather attend it on time and without my squishy, giggly baby serving as a major distraction (no offense, Isla, you just make it really hard to focus).

The next thing I knew, we were enjoying breakfast with my parents and discussing the weather in a very “not cliché” kind of way, because the weather was actually very weird and discussable. Another hot topic was the chrysalis my mom had transferred into a tiny greenhouse in her living room to protect it from the wind and birds outside. We had seen it first as a caterpillar in a “J” hang a day or two before. We examined it from a distance with Lorelei and watched The Very Hungry Caterpillar on Netflix in honor of the fact that it was beginning its butterfly transformation on my parents’ front porch. As we headed out to go home that night, Lorelei yelled, “Hey! Where’d the hungry caterpillar go??”

My mom and I took a look and were surprised to see that the caterpillar had transformed into a chrysalis when we weren’t looking. It was incredible to see, and we were all very excited. Lorelei was so excited, in fact, that she dragged her little red Adirondack chair over to the pot the chrysalis was attached to so she could sit and stare at it. Sadly, I had to tell her to get up out of the chair so that we could go home and hop in bed, but I reassured her that we would be able to watch the chrysalis for many days in the future.

“Goodbye chrysalis, goodbye ant, goodbye little yellow bugs, goodbye plant,” she said, before following me to the car. Goodbyes are never easy.

But, oh, how I wish we could have sat there as the sun set, and simply watched a transformation in progress without actually seeing the work going on behind the little green cylindrical wall of sorts. Nothing would have made me happier than to talk about caterpillars and butterflies with Lorelei while Isla listened and observed all the goings on. But a successful bedtime routine is all too valuable to me (Lorelei and Isla’s future moods depend on it), and it really was time to go.

On that weird-weather day a few days forward, Lorelei spent a lot of time watching caterpillars shed their skins and form their chrysalides on YouTube. But when it began to rain, we hurried outside to admire the huge raindrops that were glittering the sidewalk. Lorelei isn’t able to see rain all that often, seeing as how California has been in a serious drought for her entire life thus far, so being able to really experience a storm was very exciting for her. It was warm as we stood on the porch with my parents and watched the rain splatter. We guided Lorelei out onto the sidewalk so she could feel the heavy drops fall onto her skin, and we told her to stick her tongue out so she could drink some of the rain. After a little while, we went back inside and watched the rain stop and start again repeatedly out the window while kneeling on the couch. We eagerly listened to the thunder and told Lorelei that it was the sound that was made when the clouds bumped into each other. She liked the idea of that very much.

Eventually the rain slowed down enough that we could go out and play without getting soaked. As I looked around the front yard, I could literally feel the pace steadying. My mind was working more slowly, I didn’t feel as anxious as I usually do, I was able to play with Lorelei without feeling like I was forgetting to do something time sensitive, I didn’t feel like I was starving (a common side effect of nursing every few hours), Baby Isla was sleeping and the vibe in the air was a very, very peaceful one. Water drops on flower petals caught my eye, and I felt extremely inspired to photograph all of the beauty that I was surrounded by in a yard that I walk through hurriedly almost every day. The next half hour or so was very reflective and enjoyable for me. The air was still, Lorelei was beyond happy to be experiencing a different side of nature and I felt like my old, artistic self at the same time that I felt like a good mama. The combination of the two has never happened before, and this moment deserved to be remembered.

After Isla woke up and it was time to go back inside, I continued to see beauty in the most ordinary of places, like the contrast of the stormy skies against the curtains in my parents’ bedroom, Lorelei's attempt at wearing lipstick, or the colors shared by Isla’s blanket and onesie. I snapped away like crazy without ever leaving the moment. It was unreal and amazing and gratifying to know that I had nowhere else to be and was allowed to simply be myself, and actually enjoy it fully.

As the day came to an end and it was nearing the time to go home and help my girls go to sleep for the night, my mom and I both commented that the day in its entirety was actually really good. It never felt stressful, and everything that had happened that morning worked out for the best. We both love the rain, and I’m sure the change in weather was a much-needed change for our souls. I know that, for me, I was able to see my surroundings in a new light, and this ability allowed me to simply slow down and enjoy all of the mundane and ordinary parts of life that I never actually appreciate.

I’m thankful for the many wonderful and beautiful moments of that day.

And, I really miss the rain.


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Mother/Daughter/Sister

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Mother/Daughter/Sister

My husband and I recently found out that we will be adding another sweet baby girl to our little family, and we couldn’t be happier. That being said, there was a slight (and I mean very slight) feeling of discontent at the discovery of our baby-in-utero’s presumed sex. The thought of having a baby boy was exciting because mothering a son is unknown to me, and my husband of course wants a son because, well, what dad doesn’t? On the other side of the spectrum, we can relax a little more now that we don’t have to worry about accumulating a bunch of new baby clothes and accessories, nor do we have to research things like the risks and benefits of circumcision or how to change a diaper without getting showered in urine. We are happy with the news we got that day, and all is fine in our world (at the moment/knock on wood).

When I spoke to my mother-in-law on the phone about the big news, however, I came to realize something far more important than any of the above. She told my husband and me that she was so, so happy that Lorelei was going to have a sister because having a sister (or multiple sisters as is her case) is incredibly special. I thought about what she said for a while. She was so right. The bond I have with my sister is kind of indescribable. The way we support each other, challenge each other, love each other, respect each other and accept each other is beyond understanding. There is nothing comparable to the bond shared between two girls who become women together; who share beds and clothes and parents and family gatherings; who unconditionally admire each other during their best and worst times; who always have the other’s best interest at heart despite past misunderstandings; who teach each other important life lessons, like how to be their best selves and how to be honest in all relationships; and who comfort each other during times of shared sadness and grief. I need my sister so much that he thought of losing her breaks me and literally brings me to tears (even as I type this), and thus the thought of giving a sister to my first daughter also brings me to tears, because she will now get to experience one of the most intense and rewarding relationships that life offers.

The passion between sisters is intensified by the relationship they have with their mother. A mother is a guiding force, a symbol of strength, love and ultimate selflessness. On my first official Mother’s Day after Lorelei was born, my sister gifted my mother and me a necklace that is a simple golden ring with smaller rings connected on each side, which in turn are connected to thin chains that are joined together by a clasp (see picture at the very beginning since I'm not very good at describing jewelry). She got herself one as well because it is meant to symbolize the way the three of us are connected (the bigger ring at the center symbolizes our mom and the smaller rings symbolize us). I wear this necklace daily so that I will never feel alone, and never forget how important our relationship is.

My sister and I have always been drawn to the comfort provided us by our mother. She has taught us so much about life and how to live it, and even though my sister and I lead very different lives we are all three connected in a way that is quite difficult to explain. We care very much what we all think about the decisions we all make because we thrive on the feeling we get when we are supported by each other, and we know that none of us would lead the others astray. Knowing that such a loving and caring support system is there for us when we need it is ridiculously comforting. I’m not afraid of bad days or difficult life challenges because I know both my mother and sister have my back and will go out of their way to help me, and I them. It’s rare to find friends like that, at least it was for me, and to grow up with that kind of trust shaped me as a wife and mother.

Having family members as my best friends (my dad included) is very life-affirming. I was given to my mother by God, or the universe, or whathaveyou; she didn’t choose me and I didn’t choose her, and my younger sister didn’t choose us either. And yet, we are all three perfect for each other because we shaped each other, and that kind of bond is irreplaceable. I will do my best to give my daughters what my mother gave my sister and me: a best girl friend, a love unknown to many, and a sense of belonging in a world that often seems very unforgiving.  

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