Wednesday, May 08, 2013

On a runaway train to join the global motherhood movement

I'm on my way, via Amtrak,  to New York City. The trees are whizzing past and every once in a while I can look out and see the wide, slow moving Hudson River on my right. Each time the train whistle blows I find myself swooning with some strange primal sense of nostalgia mixed with the pure excitement, anticipation, of moving through time and space from one place to another.

To travel.
I like it.

But I like even more that I'm going to the Mom+Social global motherhood summit to take part in a collective pow wow about how to make the state of the world's mothers as safe and healthy and filled with hope for the future of their children as can possibly be.

The thought of people taking the time to put their heads together to figure out how to better spread the word of the importance of mothers around the world inspires and encourages me beyond words.

One day and a lot of walking later:

Now that I'm here, I don't know where to begin to describe what I've seen and heard.

I've seen Christy Turlington, 80s supermodel turned women and children's health advocate. Her youthful beauty was distracting only in that it made me insanely curious how old she was. She's 44, apparently. I was hoping I'd find out she's at least ten years younger than I am though I knew that was impossible.

I saw Robbie Parker, the father of Emilie Parker, one of the six-year olds shot dead in the Newtown school shooting, cry several times onstage as he explained just how much his daughter changed his life and made him a better person.

I heard Carolyn Miles, CEO of Save the Children, speak of the fierce determination of all mothers to ensure our children the best future possible future. I also learned how she came to devote her life to non-profit work. She described the day she locked eyes with a mother in the Phillipines and became profoundly aware that that woman's baby, just like Carolyn's baby at the time, had no less right than did her child to the very best future he could possibly have.

I listened to Fortunata Kasege talk about the sorrow of learning she had HIV and the joy of learning, a few months later, her newborn baby tested negative for the virus. 

I heard Jennifer Lopez and her sister, Lynda Lopez, banter on stage about being pregnant together and the importance of sisterhood, be it blood sisters or simply a tribe of supportive women around you. I experienced another superficial moment, ala Christy Turlington, when I could not take my eyes off sister Lynda's legs, which I described as leaving the stage five minutes after the rest of her body did. They were that long.

I was moved by a woman, a Latina blogger, named Jeannette Kaplun, when she said
"The fear of losing your kids can paralyze you no matter where you live, no matter what kinds of luxuries you can afford."

I learned about a United Nations campaign called Girl Up that inspires American girls to become global leaders and channel their passions to global issues.

We were presented at the beginning of the forum, with the question "What one thing, as part of the global community,  can we do to support the world's mothers?"

Can you answer that question?


Mama Badger said...

One thing? Share. We can share. Share our thoughts, our emotions our support, and anything we have. Share our kids and their experiences. I think sometimes we get lost in being just a mother of our own kids, and forget that it's ok to share our kids with others, and let their kids into our lives. I'm working on this!

Betsy said...

Mama Badger: Thans for commenting ! I think I get what you are saying, totally. We can get too insular as parents. I sometimes need to remind myself to be patient and compassionate and sincerely welcoming with other children and families in all our circles.

Betsy said...

Mama Badger: Thans for commenting ! I think I get what you are saying, totally. We can get too insular as parents. I sometimes need to remind myself to be patient and compassionate and sincerely welcoming with other children and families in all our circles.

Emma said...

I think it all comes down to supporting women's rights and health, which has a natural flow on effect. Societies that invest in their women and investing in the future. So healthy women have healthy children who are educated and given choices. We live in a bubble in western culture. Of course our girl children are educated and can choose their reproductive future! But until this is true for all girls, we are kidding ourselves. As mothers we need to push this truth as much as possible.

Sounds like an amazing conference. I'm jealous!

Rutu said...

Hi Betsy, thanks for sharing your experience. The one thing we could do to support world's mothers is to help provide them some basic primary education. If a mother can read/write, gets even slightly aware that there is a world out there, outside of her little hamlet where other mothers are much stronger, they can voice their opinions, make choices for themselves and for their children, it will help change the picture. Sounds too basic? It is actually not. I am from India and I have seen / come in contact with many mothers who are in desperate need. I work for a non-profit organization called India Literacy Project. They started with the mission of providing primary education for children. During the course they realized that the mothers / women are the key factors as they need to make their children understand how important it is to at least read and write. Mothers need to be a bit more self sufficient to have some confidence so that they can make choices for themselves and the kids. Also, we are talking only about "functional" literacy. Not talking about finishing school or anything. In fact just last weekend I participated in a 129 mile Relay walk to raise funds for funding some of the projects in India. More info here:

Keep up the good work Betsy. Other mothers need more mothers like you!

mooserbeans said...

Sounds like an amazing experience!
In my opinion as a teacher, we need to provide support to our young mothers. Young women used to learn how to raise a child from their grandmothers and mothers. Now they are so isolated and don't always get the support they need. (I am speaking in generalizations here, I was raised by an awesome teen mother.) Too many children start school without the necessary nutrition, experiences, and background knowledge. We need to provide support to many of our young mothers and teach them how to discipline, feed, and nurture their children's development.

Seamingly Sarah said...

Live more like a community. It lines up with sharing and supporting each other. Then women (people, doesn't have to be just women) can help each other, learn from each other, learn to not be ashamed of the unexplained or hidden parts of parenthood and life in general. We are stronger together.

Anonymous said...

Betsy - thank you for recapping your trip. Awesome, awesome, AWESOME. I agree with someone else's comment about education. Education is so key.
Keep talking, we're listening.


Betsy said...

Rutu: Thanks so much for writing. Education is power and we her in the "first world" can all too easily take that for granted. I'm off to check out your website now....

Alana said...

Hi Betsy, I love your blog but I can't find an email address for you. I'm at iVillage Australia and I was hoping we could repost one of your amazing posts. I'm at