Wednesday, April 4, 2012


"Can I ask you something?" she asked.


"Well, ok.  Why do you bathe the baby in the kitchen sink?  It seems kind of...gross to me."

I could say it's easier on my back.  Or that I'm sure to clean the sink both before and after baby's bath time.  But neither of those things really answer the question.

It's the same with cloth diapering.  Or wearing a baby on my back while hanging clothes up on the line.  It's the same with keeping baby close all night long.

I was bathed in a kitchen sink.  I was carried in a sling and kept close all night.  I'd venture to say that my Mom was too, and probably her Mama before her, in a big farm sink somewhere in the farm country of Michigan.  It's the way my people do it.

When I throw that baby on my back and knead bread, I feel it - that connection with people of the past and future.  I feel very small in a world full of mothers, slinging babies and singing them to sleep, yet I feel important - united with a great web of women from the beginning of time all the way til now, of all nations and faiths and tongues.  Women who grow round with babies inside and respond when someone cries out "Mama!"  Women who work all day long with a little one tugging on their hair and blowing raspberries.  Women who hold the weight of this world firmly on their shoulders, yet can come undone in the quiet moments when a tiny new soul looks up into their eyes and smiles from deep within.

Women who nurture, women who care, women who work, hard, all day long.  Women who love with such a deep and abiding love that the whole world marvels at the sight.  I think about them as the day drags on and he snores gentle from back there in the carrier, completely contented, completely warm, completely loved.  Complete.

There is no one way to mother.  Breast vs bottle, crib vs co sleep, these things don't matter in the grand scheme of things.  Not a bit.  We're all connected, no matter where you bathe your baby.  Some Mamas plunk their babies right down in a watering trough, or at the edge of a muddy stream.  Some women let their babies roam naked and sling them right up on their backs with a bit of brightly colored cloth.  I happen to prefer a sink and an Ergo.  Everyone parents the way that feels natural and normal to them.  Any woman who holds the light of child's soul in her heart is a Mother.

He slaps the water and yelps when it splashes in his eyes.  "Mamamamamama!!!" he exclaims, loudly, all smiles and drool and gooey baby goodness.  I wrap him up in a soft white towel and fluff his wet curls.

We're connected.  Us, who are doing the shaping?  Who pour love on thick so that these little sprouts grow up strong and confident?  What we do matters.  

"It's not what we do, but how much love we put in the doing..."  
~Mother Teresa

I bathe my babies in the kitchen sink because, when I do, I feel a part of this living, breathing organism that is the human race.  Tiny on this big blue and green ball hanging just so in this galaxy.  When I hold him close afterward, swaying and humming him off to dreamland, I know I'm touching the future - his, his children, their children.  On and on.

I pat his back and his eyelids flicker shut, stretched out on the bed.  Slowly I turn toward the door and walk away.  This world is a whirling dervish and if I blink twice, he'll be grown - walking away from me.  But I'll have left my mark.

Hoping to make it one of pure Mother-love.


  1. Beautiful!!!!

    I too was bathed in the kitchen sink and so was my little man, the tradition continues :)

  2. What really jumped out at me was the line about there is no one way to mother...yet I find myself reacting like there is or upset when my friends react that way towards me. Thank you for the wonderful reminder.

  3. Stacey - I know that feeling well. Mothering is so incredibly personal that it can feel like a personal attack when someone chooses another path. It took me years to let down my defenses on this one. Blessings to you!

    Janessa - I could just eat him up!

  4. Absolutely beautiful! Your words are poetry. A lovely reminder of how connected we are to mothers past and present, all around us. May it spur us on to celebrate what unites us instead of getting stuck in what divides us.

  5. I just love reading your words...your every post! This was beautiful! What a blessing we have been given to be called "mothers"!
    Peter's curls are adorable!! What a cutie!

  6. Sweet sweet baby... oh and those curls... if I was closer I would just cuddle a grandma (hugs).

  7. Love this!! And the curls too <3

  8. This post is AMAZING! It brings tears to my eyes because of how eloquently you can express yourself and so much of it I feel the same way about - So somehow you also are helping me voice my heart! Keep up the good work. I love to bathe a baby in the kitchen sink.

  9. Lydia - you're words rang so true in my heart this morning. These days, I feel as though I can do nothing right and am failing more often than not. Thank you for the reminder that, as long as I am loving and caring for these beautiful souls that are entrusted to me, I'm in communion with an entire legacy of women who had days like this.
    Laura Shehan


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