"Arise all women who have hearts."
--Julia Ward Howe
Yesterday I woke up to pans banging, loud giggles, and several "sssshhhh's" as three little heads took turns peeping into my bedroom. And from the moment I pulled back the sheets, I was washed over with sweet hugs and words and pampering from my children and their daddy.
There was the traditional breakfast and morning cup made by the boys in the house. There were the marvelous handmade cards.
(yes, that really is us if we were a family rock band. My favorite part? Even as a lead singer in said rock band, I still carry a tote with an apple inside).
There was the quiet moments I got (instead of cleaning or changing diapers or making lunches) to sit and focus on my breath, my gratitude, my blessed life.
There was the time spent together, just playing and being. It was perfect, really. But I must confess: my Mothers Day was all weekend long, and perhaps the stuff that I will carry with me most happened away from my children, on Saturday morning in a yoga studio across the bay.
While the very fact that I was doing restorative yoga without my normal, um, helper
was glorious, the truth is, the morning's power came far more in the reason for the gathering.
For four years now, my good friend Copland and I have been part of the national organization Mothers Acting Up, a mama-led, mama-fed movement that inspires people to act up-- with joy-- on behalf of the world's women and children. Each year, we've put on a Mother's Day event focusing on international initiatives working for the betterment of those who so often do not have a voice of their own. We've opened a village bank in Haiti and put in a PlayPump in Tanzania. Our community of women in a town of 1,500 people has come together in ways we never imagined; a collective uprising rooted in love that is truly making a difference. This year, Copland organized a morning of restorative yoga, tea and conversation as a way to give back to these women, and as a way to kick off our part in the Stand for the World's Children campaign.
The campaign is aiming to reach one million people-- through postcard signings and online petitions-- to Stand for the World's Children by asking elected officials to prioritize so that the world's most vulnerable children are cared for in the following ways: 1) to see President Obama appoint a Children's Ambassador, a person who would report to Secretary of State Clinton and oversee programs and funding dedicated to caring for the children of the world. 2) To see congress fully fund programs benefitting orphans and other vulnerable children on this planet.
Sitting in a circle on the yoga studio floor with this diverse group of women-- conservative and liberal, young and old, mothers and others-- I was able to breathe in the incredible gift of the collective spirit. It gave me hope. It encouraged me to step forward and to open my heart with a compassion that requires action outside my own four walls.
Driving home Saturday morning, I spent my time thinking about these beautiful children:
Caroline, Isaac and Watuma-- sponsored family members-- who live in Kenya and Uganda. I know of the fear their own mother's face; I know they worry about having enough food, about violence and school fees and illnesses that run rampant in the slums of cities like Nairobi. I recognize the innocent and pride of these children, as they learn to draw pictures with English captions like "chicken" or "This is cow."
It is hard to not feel overwhelmed and yet, it is hard to ignore the fact that my blessed life can only truly be honored if I am doing what I can to ensure that all children are cared for, that all children can curl up in their beds at night and fall asleep feeling full and safe and warm.
Mothers Acting Up provides me with the fuel to stand up for these children. I can connect with other women, can share my frustrations and my dreams. Together, we are able to open space in our lives to dig deeper, to uncover the well that is at mothering's soul-- a universal web that binds together anyone who has loved a child as we do. This place within us, the place where the heart and art of mothering lies, shows us an undeniable truth: all the children of the world are our own. All the children of the world need nurturing and love and the protection of someone bigger. It is not our burden, but instead, our gift, to know that we can stand up in their honor.
I encourage you to spend a few moments by your child's bed tonight. Watch the peace of their sleep, the way the rhythm of their breathing becomes your own, the way your body feels like it radiates the most beautiful light as you look upon them. Soak in the gratitude, and then ask yourself, "how can I give this to someone else?"
The answer? It can be as simple as signing a petition.