Sometimes on parenting blogs, as we write about the triumphs and tribulations of motherhood, we overlook the basic, yet quintessential role that mothers have in the lives of their children: to provide them with the basic necessities for their survival. I’m not talking about just kissing their boo-boos and snuggling at bedtime; I’m talking about providing them with food, shelter, clean drinking water, and access to medical care. And while I am mindful of the many mothers barely scraping by, struggling with food insecurity and unstable living conditions, talking about how many meals a week I can afford to feed my children or how much money I have to spend on copays has never once struck me as a valuable topic of a blog post until now.
I am blessed in my life that these are the norms that I enjoy. We have a great house in a safe neighborhood. I have the ability to purchase healthy produce and provide nutritious meals for my family. I have never once questioned our ability to drink and use our tap water. And I never hesitate to bring my children to the pediatrician for both preventative and sick care.
When the birth of my oldest daughter almost resulted in an emergency C-section, I never once had to think that there might be unintended consequences for bringing her safely into this world and saving my life. When my struggles with breastfeeding and her slow weight gain turned into anxiety, I knew I could reach out to my midwives to ask them for the mental health support I desperately needed without fear of stigmatization. When they encouraged me to seek therapy to help me through my postpartum anxiety, I did. When we discovered my daughter was anemic, I never once batted an eyelash at the insurance bills for her lab work. The lab work was what she needed to assure that she was healthy; of course it would be done. When the EKG revealed she had a heart murmur, I was coaxed into comfort upon hearing that it should not have a major impact on her life. And when my youngest daughter had a seizure in my arms last week, my only thought as I held her tiny body while fighting back tears was to get an ambulance to the hospital so I could keep her safe. Pre-existing conditions and lifelong consequences were the farthest thing from my mind.
My daughters are pretty fantastic. They are vivacious, filled with insatiable curiosity, and woo every adult and child they encounter. They are smart, funny, and fearless. How wonderful and blessed it is to spend my days preoccupied with art projects, reading stories, rushing to dance lessons, and complaining when they throw food on the floor or quibble over a toy. I am lucky that our medical history has only been rollercoaster glitches of stress and not the defining moments of our days or bank accounts. These medical issues have not once defined our family or our children in the long term; they have made no major financial burden, nor have they meant that I have to reconsider my ability to afford their medical care.
As a mother, it is my job to keep my children safe. As a mother, I take seriously the responsibility I have to keep them healthy and well. But now, I have a heavy heart that my job as a mother could be compromised, and that these medical blips could have unintended consequences for their futures through no fault of their own. Simply by their birth, by their DNA, they have needed the preventative care that has allowed them to blossom and grow. And what would happen to my thriving, energetic girls if that cannot be the case? What would happen to our family if minor medical issues ended up having a catastrophic financial burden on our lives?
As a mother, it is my job to ensure that my children have their basic needs met.
I pray I can continue to keep them safe and healthy.
I pray I can continue to have their basic needs met.
May is Maternal Mental Health Month. To help us end the stigma attached with maternal mental health complications, all month we will be featuring stories pertaining to MMH. If you or someone you know is in need of additional support, see our resources page. If you have a story you would like to share, please contact us at [email protected]