Blog Archives

What Makes A Good Mom?

July 13, 2012
[caption id="attachment_321" align="alignleft" width="250"]Good Moms, a good mom, what makes a good mom, am I a good mom?, how can I be a good mom? My Mom and me – Good Moms![/caption]

What makes a good mom? Do we project our own definitions onto other mothers? Do we have standards so high we set ourselves up as failures? Isn’t it really true that we are all good Moms, barring situations of neglect and abuse.

You’re a good Mom. We all mother in our own unique way, and we’re all fallible. We are Moms who mess up at times, we raise our voices (okay, yell, scream and shout), forget to return the permission slip on time (if you haven’t yet, just wait), or worse, forget to put money under the tooth fairy pillow (that one required very creative story telling).

I think back on my happy childhood and don’t recall my Mom being ever-present at our schools, did she ever chaperone a field trip? I still felt completely cared for and content. One winter, my brother called as I watched my young children play in the snow on our deck, I muttered something about feeling bad for being inside and not out with them, my brother commented, “Leah, when did Mom ever come out to play in the snow with us?” He was right! I didn’t feel slighted one bit by that, plus she was waiting inside with hot chocolate, she showed us that she loved us in little and grand ways all the time without constantly guiding our activity or playing with us.

My Mom and I were recently talking about my grandmother and how by today’s standards of a good Mom being on every sideline, volunteering in every corner of the school, attending every in-school event, that her Mom wouldn’t have been considered a “good Mom.” Yet she was an incredible Mother and Grandmother and we always felt loved and cherished. She was full of wisdom and epitomized unconditional love, did it matter that she had no presence at her daughter’s school?

[caption id="attachment_323" align="alignleft" width="250"]mother and daughter, generations of moms, grandmother and great grandmother, good moms, My Mom and her Mom[/caption]

I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t get involved in our children’s schools and extracurricular activities, but I am a big believer in balance and in guilt-free parenting, so if you’re not mothering in that way, it’s okay and you’re a good Mom, too!

Memory Scars

July 2, 2012

horseshoe crab, creating with horseshoe crab, creative bucket, homemade basket, boy on beach, blue shirt, carrying shells, beach treasuresScar. The word feels negative, ugly, damaged, but our scars tell stories of our lives, they mark our bodies with visible memories. The life events that engraved themselves upon us in scars are not usually positive and pretty, they can represent deep pain and profound endurance, but they can also remind us of our gifts, our strengths and our humanity.

Growing up, we tritely feel and behave as if we’re indestructible, but as children, our scars teach us about our bodies in space: how high can we climb, when to release on a rope swing, the importance of knee pads. I have two skid marks 20 years after my first attempt at rollerblading. (Lessons: don’t wear roller blades 3 sizes too big and don’t ride through the sandy spots.)

My perfect little boy’s face has a small stripe across the bridge of his nose. In a creative spurt, I made a scavenger hunt for my daughter and son (then six and four) and while searching for a bug, they discovered a hidden shovel that a contractor had left behind. As I turned to look, I saw my daughter try to maneuver the too-big shovel, slip it off the hard ground and strike my son’s face as he leaned over inquisitively. (Lesson: hmmm, move fast if you see a small kid with a big shovel.) Michael’s nose scar is a part of him now, it’s more subtle as the years pass, but sometimes we remember the day when “Ali hit me with a shovel.”

cupcakes, blue and yellow cupcakes, flower cupcakes, flower baking, beautiful cupcakes

French Friendships

June 24, 2012
[caption id="attachment_236" align="alignleft" width="250"] Letter from Bene[/caption]

It all began in seventh grade, my first year of French class, with $1 and an address. Twenty-nine years later, as my daughter finished up her first year of seventh grade French, my parents and my family of five traveled to Bordeaux and reunited with my penpal.

For a dollar in 1983, I got her address in Floirac, Bordeaux in southwestern France. Benedicte, Bene for short, was a year older than me, she wrote to me in English and I wrote to her in French. We were learning one another’s language and we craved more interaction, more practice, and a glimpse into each other’s lives.

Bene and I mailed pictures, books, postcards, maps, cassettes and trinkets along with lengthy letters. We corresponded for years without ever having met or spoken. We were intercontinental friends and eventually arranged our first meeting.

[caption id="attachment_259" align="alignleft" width="250"] Bene and me in France in the summer of 1989[/caption]

Every Month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

May 31, 2012

There was a message left at 1:27 pm yesterday, the day after my mammogram, “Please call us back.” Call them back? What about just waiting for that nice letter that arrives next week to tell me everything is ok? Hours had passed and kids swarmed the kitchen as I listened to the message. I waited […]

Vietnam is More Than a War

May 29, 2012

When you hear Vietnam, do you immediately think “war”? It was the first word association I had when I heard my parents were planning to visit Vietnam for a vacation. Months later, through a series of lucky events, I ended up going in place of my Dad.

War has, indeed, been a repeating theme in Vietnamese history and without a doubt, the Vietnam War is more present and visible there than in the US, but traveling there, we also got a glimpse into the complexities and treasures of a culture and a people that run deeper than what they call the American War.

We landed in Hanoi at 10:00 pm on February 1, 2012, haggard and fatigued after the long flights, we met up with our tour group and guide, Quang, a 47 year old for whom, by the end of our time together, we would feel a special affection.viet name, vietnamese hats, conical hats, women in vietnam

Since this was a tour group and planned for people more my parents age, it turned out that Quang and I were closer in age than the others. As he shared his life stories, I found myself continually figuring out what I was doing while he was swimming in flooded bomb craters during the rainy season or what it would feel like to have my brother leave home for another country, facing pirates and dangers, never to see him again.

What kind of parallel did his life have to mine growing up only 5 years apart? The comparisons were dramatic, I was safe, doing homework, school activities and swimming at beaches, my family was together, and in the post-war years, I happily studied at college and lived a carefree, peaceful, and fun-filled life. Quang grew up with the war.

Choose Trust Not Fear

June 29, 2010

kids art, rainbow art, trusting birth, college women and labor, childbirth and labor, color wheelI just spent four days at a convention with women of all ages and I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with groups of college women. What struck me about my conversations with these young women was their unanimous and overarching fear of pregnancy and childbirth. I wanted to implore them to trust not fear birth.

It saddens me that the sole message these women have received is one of anxiousness, fright and actual terror. In many ways it is no surprise given the culture of childbirth in the U.S. today, the media portrayals and the widely held belief that giving birth is dangerous and miserable.

These future mothers did not have a sense of joy or a confidence in themselves or their bodies to grow and nurture a baby let alone to deliver it! One young woman confessed that she does not think her body can hold a baby while another announced she wanted nothing but a Cesarean. Where is the other side of this story?

Into the Mother’s Circle

May 21, 2010

mismatched socks, into the mother's circle, teen girls in socks, colorful socks, striped socks, four seasons, compass rose, meaning of a ring,May is International Doula Month and the month we celebrate Mothers!

I feel so grateful to do the work that I do; it is a blessing and an honor to support mothers and families, to welcome women into the Mother’s Circle.

The name Mother’s Circle has many meanings to me – it’s an embrace, safe arms around a family. It is holding a space for moms and babies. It is joining a community of women across generations and cultures and connecting mothers throughout history, around the Earth. Mother’s Circle evokes an image to me of nurturing, compassionate envelopment and hands joining together – hands holding to buttress one another, to validate one another, to nourish one another in silent, expansive unity.

Being a mother is so complex and contradictory – it is the deepest love, profound joy and intense frustration – it is special relationships and connection to another human being like no other. It is overwhelming, emotional, physical, tiring, energizing, exhausting and invigorating. It encourages us to explore our bond with this other person and our individuality from him/her; it leads us to reflect on our own mother, our own upbringing, our values, dreams, and goals for our families and ourselves. Motherhood implores us to see ourselves anew, to be strong within ourselves beyond what we may have believed possible.

Mother, Mama, Mommy, Mom … we have a place of honor, prestige, great influence and great responsibility inLeah DeCesare, doula, Mother's Circle, Rhode Island doula a child’s life. Becoming a mother is becoming a master balancer – balancing giving of yourself and giving to yourself. Spending time alone, nurturing your spirit and body, living in the knowledge that caring for you is caring for your child(ren). The title of Mother, Mama, Mommy does not replace the woman you are; let the role enhance you, add to you, give to you instead of detracting or diminishing.

Trust yourself. Honor yourself. Bask in the glory of the Mother’s Circle.