Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fierce Love

There is an agency I have visited, every now and then, over many years. They have a wall that honours people who have given, materially and financially, as one often sees in non-profit organisations. There is a spot on the wall, however, that is a permanent mark of gratitude to three women, who came together, and formed the agency many years ago. Women who fought for community before community was conceived. Women who's desire to have their children receive quality education and training in their home communities ran counter to the dictates of the time. The institution called but these women, their husbands and their families, did not answer.

It's like this everywhere I go. Organisations founded by women, who would not see their child taken from them.

I work in a movement founded by the love of mothers.

Not the gentle caring love that you see on commercials.

But fierce love.

Love that took action.

Love that would not be denied, would not be diverted and would not be shamed.

Love that, in the hands of women, built buildings, built services, built a future for their children.

Love that, in the minds of women, stared down doctors, stared down social workers, stared down anyone who would take a pen and write their child's name in the margins.

Love that, in the souls of women, created a new language about disability, about possibility and about hope.

Love that created a movement, a civil liberties movement, for the freedom of their children with disabilities.

Gentle loving mothers on commercials belie the fact that there is power in that love.

Power to transform.

From someone who works in a field established and created by women, mothers, who loved their children. I honour all those who are not named on walls, not honoured on plaques. I pledge to remember that you wanted your child treated with respect and with compassion. I pledge, in your honour, to try every day.


Anonymous said...

Oh Dave, Thank You for this. You made this Mom cry this morning over her morning coffee.

Yesterday, I participated in a workshop through the Association For Community Living. I am a member of the Family Support Board. We had a facilitator in from the National Board to help us sort through our mission. I was joined by a sisterhood of motherhood- all but two members of our committee are mothers. Mothers who fought to have their disabled child attend school alongside their peers. Mothers who had and continue to fight for policy change at a government level to ensure our precious children areloved and cared for after we are no longer able to do so. The facilitator asked why we stayed on the committee, why we were at the response was; "We haven't finished what the Mothers who came before us started. We will carry the torch and continue to fight for the rights of our children and ALL the children who come after our children, mentoring young mothers along the way..."

Mothers will carry the torch to the grave, their legacy will live on in their beautiful children and the communities that are more inclusive because of the love and compassion they had for thier child(ren).

Happy Mother's Day to all my sisters who have blazed the trail before me, to those who blaze it with me, and for those who will blaze it after me...
Love and Light to you all. xx Heidi

Colleen said...

I honour those mothers too. But I want you to know about the other mothers who also deserve honour. My mother, you see, did relinquish her child, my brother Gerry, to an institution. She tried for 5 years to keep him home. But in the end the total lack of support won. My parents both belonged to the Association for Retarded Children as it was then called. They were both on the executive. Even after Gerry was placed in the institution. And they both fought the battles needed to get the supports needed to keep other kids at home. My mother fought hard to keep Gerry connected to our family. To make sure everyone knew someone loved him and cared what happened to him. She lobbied hard to get him moved closer to home. She went face to face with executive directors when she saw living conditions that were reprehensible. She never turned away. I don't think she ever recovered from having to place her 5 year old in an institution. She firmly believed she was doing the right thing for him. She fought for change. She loved just as fiercely. Her name will never be on one of those walls. But her fierce love was part of the change.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Colleen, I knew writing this that I was leaving out mothers who made the best decision they could under the circumstances of the time. I don't mean to do that. I was trying to reflect of the fact that women built human services, mothers built was was needed for their children. I wanted to specifically honour those women. I need, sometimes, to learn to write more inclusively.

Antonia Lederhos Chandler said...

"Love that, in the minds of women, stared down doctors, stared down social workers, stared down anyone who would take a pen and write their child's name in the margins."

I'm sure that Colleen, and anyone who reads your blog regularly, knows that you, personally, are inclusive with a capital "I". Bless you!

I want to mention an adult with a cognitive disability who spent a large part of his childhood in a state hospital. He liked it there better than he did at home, as his mother was ill-equipped to deal with his behaviors and made him a scapegoat. In spite of shock treatments and one incident of abuse, he still considers the institution his home, and remembers it fondly.

He asked us to take him on a tour at the hospital several years ago. Since he has a way with words and a really fine memory, he told the staff who greeted him and showed him around quite a bit of the history of the various wards he visited. They were fascinated by his stories. He also asked us to arrange for one of the teachers who taught him there in the '50s and early '60s to meet him that day and visit with him. She was in her '90s at the time.

Sometimes, mothers or fathers give up custody of their children, out of love, like Colleen's mother did. And their children become who they are because other people -- nurses, teachers, visiting mothers -- whom they wouldn't otherwise have met enrich the fabric of their lives, whether or not their parents are still able to be there for them.

wheeliecrone said...

Dave, I believe that there is nothing so fierce as a mother's love for her child.
I have always thought that those images of sweet, gentle, soft women that everyone sees in the media are only one side of maternal love. As you so clearly stated, underneath that soft, gentle love is a tiger, which can be unleashed when necessary.
And Tiger Mothers do not stop. They keep on and on until their goal is achieved. They stand their ground; they push ahead; they look "authority" in the eye and say, "No. You are wrong. My child deserves something other than what you prescribe". And, often they win. After awhile.
My mother was a Tiger Mother when I had polio. And I received the very best treatment available.
I was a Tiger Mother when my youngest child had ear problems. And she had the very best treatment available, and grew up to be an adult who could hear.
Tiger Mothers. Long may they growl.

Mardra said...

Beautiful and true.
Thank you.
- Ms

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

You are one of the most inclusive people I know and I meant no offence by my comment. My intention was only to add to the discussion.


Rickismom said...

Oh yes! Thank you!