Today while putting my almost 3-year-old daughter Beam down for her nap, she seemed pensive. So I asked, "How are you feeling?" She answered, "Good."
"Good? OK, I'm glad," I told her. And then I got one of those this-is-such-a-precious-moment feelings and I decided to ask her, "What are you grateful for?"
"Mama Rose's heart," she said. Thump.
Eight months ago in a very tender Mama Bear moment, I found Mama Rose and her tiny home-based child-care space, RootRock Artgarden, in gorgeous rural western Sonoma County. Beam was ready for more variety in her life, and I was ready for a few more hours to myself every week. That's when Mama Rose showed up. Today as I write this, Beam is at Mama Rose's house for her final regular day of child care there as we are ready to transition into a setting that won't involve a drive. And as I listen to my inner wisdom, the instinctual voice of self-love within me, it feels very important to write about this transition. Other mamas can benefit. Other humans can benefit. It is helpful to be reminded of the power of trust.
Even in -- or after -- trauma.
For many people, sending your child to day care isn't a big deal. It's just what you do. It can actually be a huge relief. For others, it's a big deal but it's still what you do. You don't not do it. For me, not doing day care was quite a possibility. Because it's hard to trust after trauma.
In March of 2013, while I was in an energetically ripped-wide-open state two hours after Beam was born in our bedroom, our midwife noticed she wasn't breathing right and called an ambulance. Within minutes, I was dressed, my front door roughly flung wide open, and into my sacred, candle-lit, this space belongs to a goddess sanctuary of powerful primal birth-giving stomped loud, dirty, heavy fireman's boots. My sacred, shoe-free space (we don't wear shoes in our house) went from dim, primal sanctuary into a violated wound that I wouldn't heal for years.
The stabbing point was when the fireman turned to me and said, referring to my midwife, 'You're lucky she's here."
I'm lucky she's here?!?! Oh, the words I have been holding in an angry corner of my heart for that man.
Dear Fireman, luck had nothing to do with having her there. No, it was actually quite deliberate. There were actually four highly trained birth supporters at my home that night, two of whom have a combined 40 years in supporting both healthy and high risk births. If you had any idea what it takes to be a woman with the courage to choose an all natural home birth, that comment would have never come out of your mouth. So next time you meet a woman who has just done the most powerful thing a human can do, try this instead:
(With your words, like a prayer, in a grounded whisper of reverence...) Ma'am, Goddess, is there a midwife here supporting your awe-inspiringly breathtaking process of giving birth?
Let's be clear that firemen and women can be very helpful. This man was not helpful. The paramedics in the ambulance and the medical staff at the hospital, on the other hand, were gracious and seemed to actually respect a woman who'd just given birth. Take note, Dear Fireman. Your militarized, adolescent-masculine aggression is NOT welcome in my house or my space EVER again.
But trauma subsides, if we deal with it.
It's now almost three years later and as I look back, this trauma sat under my skin for the whole year after Beam was born, and the whole next year, and into the next until one day, I finally saw over the horizon and realized, WOW, I've been trying live with trauma. As in, go on in life without healing the wound. And that 'aint gonna work. I'm not gonna thrive unless I heal it.
So my path is laid. Those wounds are seeing the light now. I'm looking at them and doing the work it takes to heal them.
And as for Beam, even though it was very hard for me to "let her go" from my side when I still felt so wounded, there was never a day when I worried about her being in day care. My Mama Bear Heart and Instinct led me with precision and certainty into Mama Rose's care. Beam formed deep new friendships, learned Puppet Theater, played in a tree fort next to a raspberry patch, and spent two mornings a week, for months, exploring a playful, artful life away from Mama's side.
My outrageously confident, healthy and delightful daughter and I are ending one phase and entering another -- with her father, my husband, who has played a huge role in supporting us through all of this.
Even with unhealed trauma, we can trust. We can lean into the love of others and discover something deeply beautiful.
I am grateful for Mama Rose's heart.
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, is a lifelong letter writer, a mother, freelance consultant and eternal fan of Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. This deeply personal blog and our recorded talks and workshops are devoted to one of her great passions: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.