When I gave birth to my son, I not only became a mother, but a mother without a mother. At the age of 55 my mother died of breast cancer. It was an aggressive strain, and after living cancer-free for more than 20 years, it returned spreading aggressively to her lungs and then her brain. After the double mastectomy we thought for sure it was the end of the cancer. Only for the cancer to return a year later taking her life and mine too soon. Losing your mother when you are becoming a mother can feel like your compass is gone; lost. Grief can be a constant trigger. I had to learn to redirect my mind.
I have my moments where I am mourning all what might have been with her. Watching my child grow I am suddenly in the role of who I need the most but who is no longer around. Grief has a way of reminding me of all the questions I didn’t get to ask. Questions about the symptoms I’m feeling or how she felt at __ weeks pregnant. Or what her delivery experience was like in comparison to mine. I’ll never get to have those conversations but despite the unknowing, pain has a way of leading to transformation.
Through motherhood I transformed from a wounded daughter into a healing mother. I made the choice to be a happy mother and I wanted to be greater than my grief. I tapped into all the great mother energy around me – those with children and those without. From my mother in law, great-grandma, my sister, even ChiChi – my female bulldog, some friends and co-workers and my doula, I had all this great maternal energy to tap into. I absorbed it all. I honored their wisdom, while at the same time I created a space for my own mothering to grow. Some people do certain things in their family because their mom did it. Well when it comes to mothering without a mother, I didn’t have that so instead I chose to see the beauty in creating new family traditions.
My healing also included me seeing a grief counselor early on and throughout my pregnancy journey. Babies feel everything their mothers feel – consciously or unconsciously. Through talk therapy I learned that often times as adults we experience anxiety and don’t know why it’s happening; we don’t know its root. When we follow the trauma we are led to stress we experienced from birth with our mothers. I kept a spirit journal of my pregnancy experience because someday I want to be able to share what my experience was like with my child detail by detail without mystery. Maternal stress can have real consequences on infant behavior without the proper tools in place. Birth should be celebrated and not feared. Our ancestors had community when it came to birthing. The best decision my husband and I made was hiring a doula as support for part of our birth team. I learned that a consciously connected pregnancy and birth experience can and will affect you, your partner and the temperament of your child. It was my duty to my unborn child to heal every part of me.
Having a doula helped me connect spiritually to motherhood and remember my strength. I reminded myself that women don’t need to be taught how to give birth, our ancestors have been doing it for centuries with less than what we have now. I also know lots of good mothers without a mother, mothers who were un-mothered – abandoned emotionally, physically or even both by their own mother. For Mother’s Day my wish for all mothers without mothers was to remember, recognize and see the Great Mother is within. As babies we come into this earth being 78% water. Water is a crucial element to all living organisms for survival and nourishment. Anytime I go to the water, I am in gratitude that I am made of the very substance that sustains life. Just as new moms holding space for their baby in the womb, protected by water – Yemaya. She is the sacred spiritual mother of all Orisha Deities and the protector of all women.
In my own motherhood, I began to trust what I know. We are all spirits living a human experience and my mother’s spirit is always going to be with me, just as she is always going to be with her grandson. She may not have met him in the physical sense but she has in the spiritual. My husband and I look over at our son a lot and see him looking upward with a huge smile on his face, smiling uncontrollably. We know deep down it’s his grandparents in spirit form. Our son has many angels looking over him and guiding him; protecting him. The biggest takeaway in mothering without a mother is knowing how strong ancestral power is.
About The Author:
Dee Davis is a Health educator that resides and services The Bronx. She is a wife, mother to a new born baby boy, step mom to a teenage son and doggy parent to an American Bulldog. In addition to family life she’s a mompreneur, and world traveler: South America, Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Through spirituality and tapping into her ancestors, she navigates this journey of motherhood and life. She is also an alchemist, transforming whatever lead she receives into gold. Keep up with her motherhood journey on Instagram @Noble_rasta. And be sure to checkout her Etsy shop “LiveNoble” for creative, spiritual and cultural items!