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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! For now, I’ve returned from my Joiyssey to participate in the "revolution":I’ve been at many Occupy sites across the country:1st in D.C. Freedom Plaza I faced & challenged racism/white supremacy, sexism/patriarchy, classism, heterosexism & eventually was kicked off the island; then I offered workshops as I drove to CA:“Anti-Racism Geared for White Occupiers”; “NO DRONES” "Successes and Pitfalls of OWS"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Journey to Grandmothering: Part II

It’s been hard for me to grab a moment to write to everyone and about this momentous event that is happening in my daughter’s life – and mine.

I arrived a week ago Tuesday nite, hurrying my trip along as Tess called me after I’d been on the road a couple of days to tell me she was going to deliver any day now! The baby has ‘engaged’, which means it has traveled headfirst to the bottom of the womb, getting into position for traveling down that wondrous birth canal and into our @#@!!**&^ world.

When I get to Tessie’s around 10:00pm, she is out saying good-bye to a dear friend who was leaving Atlanta so I crash & don’t see her until the next morning, Wednesday.

She likes to tell people that when she came into my room that first morning, I sat up sleepily, squinting, and asking her if she was bringing us breakfast in bed.

It was just her huge belly with a notebook resting on it! And a list of jobs written in that notebook for me to do while she was at work: not our ritual breakfast in bed!

So that was last week. Besides getting her home ready for another little bundle of joy, Tessie was also preparing for the Blessing Way that happened on Sunday on the spacious yard under the giant trees in front of her home.

About 40 womyn and several children came to give Tessie their powerful, female wisdom, love, and energy as she prepares for this ageless yet unique experience of giving birth.

The ritual began with the calling in of our womyn ancestors, of course, and the honoring of those ancestors. Tessie was led in and sat on a large, comfortable chair bedecked in pillows, billowing fabric, flowers, and a basin of water with rose petals and herbs.

Her feet and legs were soaked and washed, her hair combed and recombed, and everyone brought over a beautiful flower to place in her hair, along with a lovely word, to adorn her and acknowledge her beauty.

We had been instructed to bring a bead – or chose a bead from the bowl provided – that reminds us of Tessie and the journey she is about to make with her child. Then everyone lined up again to give Tessie that bead while telling her what it meant to them – and what she means to them. She strung those beads on a cord to have during the birth so she can remember these intensely moving moments.

We were given a list of about 15 names chosen from various African languages by the four womyn who gave Tessie the Blessing Way. We were to choose a name for Tess to carry her through child birth. We ended up choosing four names: 1) Aliyinza (ah-lee-yeen-zah) she who will be able to handle anything, Uganda(Soga); 2) Khanyiswa (kahn-YEE-swah) the illuminated one, she who reflects light, Azania (Xhosa); 3) Ilizi (ee-LEE-zee) she who can charm lions, Kiswahili; and 4) Myemyela (m-yehm-YEH-lah) smile, Rwanda.

Toward the end, we stood in a large circle with Tess while a light brown string was strung around everyone’s wrist or ankle. As Ayo tied the string, we told Tessie what we wished for her birthing journey. Womyn who had already experienced childbirth, gave her a wish from their own experience; womyn who hadn’t experienced childbirth, gave her a wish from their hearts.

A young womon danced an incredible birthing dance she created for Tess and then we all cheered and headed into the house for the amazing potluck food!

I couldn’t believe womyn were holding rituals in Atlanta too! And such a moving, special ritual for my daughter and her baby!

I couldn’t help think about my own birthing of that child – when I went to a library in North Dakota, picked up a little pamphlet a couple weeks before the birth, called “Lamaze Childbirth”, read the whole thing and declared “I can do this”.

And I did – 38 ½ years ago. I had a book; my daughter had a Blessing Way. I wonder what her daughter will have – assuming she has a daughter. I am still hopeful! We’ll see.

Tessie is so amazing – physically as well as her whole demeanor. She is HUGE or rather she has this HUGE BELLY. It is so hard to imagine such a little body holding such a huge bundle without tumbling into a heap! I’m always ready to dash in front of or behind her to catch her.

I don’t remember ever being this big. Of course, I hid my pregnancy – we wore tent dresses and never pants. I don’t remember ever even looking in the mirror at my blossoming body.

Her clothes – if she’s wearing any – are tight, wrapped around her breasts, her belly, and her bootie – all her body parts are just the cutest, most beautiful, most alive and radiant! And she often flashes her belly - especially in this Hotlanta humidity and heat!

Ayo painted with henna a beautiful spiral design around her protruding belly button and belly. Tessie and Audra later pasted rhinestones in between the henna! So she has more to look at than just a pregger's belly!

She is so self-contained and focused – and grown. It’s amazing to watch her go thru these steps, seeing her thoughts filtering into actions – actions she’s laying out and taking responsibility for.

I often feel like I’m watching a movie: this is my Tessie grown, and here she is with a huge watermelon belly; and here she is arranging a HOME BIRTH! Unfuckinbelieveable! Not to mention her preparing to bring yet another human life into this world that is so fucked up - and as a single mom too.

I can only guess that she has a lot more hope than I do; and a lot more energy and trust - which is nice to be around – because she is neither uninformed or ignorant. Just hopeful I guess!

All my love, the grandmother-to-be!