11 years ago, when Eric and I first moved up to this area from New York City, I was asked to teach infant massage to the teen age girls who were new mothers. I was eager to show off my skills and make some connections at the Haskins House where they met for socializing and workshops. I came in pretty confident that I was going to bring the amazing power of massage to these fresh young Moms, that after an hour with my magic they would leave having all kinds of hope and joy.
After 3 minutes of group time with these girls, I was so gobsmacked I couldn’t talk let alone instruct. I was shocked and terrified. In New York City I knew which areas were great for Indian food, or what days consignment stores stocked the good stuff. In New York I created my life inch by inch, I had several jobs and opportunities all around. 3 minutes with these teens was the most humbling time of my life to that point. There were 7 new mothers, cheerfully asking each other what they had heard about the prom last weekend, while the facilitator handed out diapers and encouraged the ladies to listen to the nice massage person. None of these overwhelmed, single, inexperienced moms wanted anything to do with the lady in the sporty sweat suit, believe me. I had never seen so much helplessness and in that moment, I had no idea how to react. I had nothing in my bag of tricks to prepare me for that moment. What I wanted was to run away.
I am not proud of that afternoon, and I only offered that massage class a few more times before I stopped. I knew I was too full of myself, too full of judgement, to treat them with respect and compassion, and to look at what they needed and not what I wanted to shove at them.
Years later when I was pregnant I stumbled on a breast-feeding class led by Rosalie Girard at the North Adams Hospital. She was demonstrating how to latch on with a doll and everyone in the room was riveted. She spoke with care, and compassion. I wanted as much of her help as I could get. I felt so held in her company. I realized how frightened I was, I knew that I was in over my head with this impending Mother-dom. Rosalie visited me after the baby was born, she came to my house, she spoke to me with the compassion and respect I couldn’t muster for those young ladies.
I know from my years in the community that because Rosalie treats every new mother this way, She visits all new mothers in the hospital after giving birth. What is amazing is the percentage of mothers who breast feed in Northern Berkshire county compared to the rest of the country. It shouldn’t be so high, but knowing Rosalie it is a no-brainer.
More than instruct she has saved lives. She has found babies who are jaundiced, malnourished, in dire situations that left unattended to would have died. Rosalie goes into the homes of teenages, Drug users, felons and the priviledged. Her whole life is devoted to these little new lives and the mothers that feed them. I am raising money to support her and her mission. They rely almost completely on this one fundraising effort, BNF Team Trivia. If you have experienced Rosalie or feel your support would be a good fit, please send it to me
Molly Kerns (make the check payable to Berkshire Nursing Families) 136 Water Street, Williamstown, MA 01267. The Event is this Saturday, March 1st and I look forward to including your name to those who have already contributed.
I thank you in advance for the future babies you will support with your generosity.