Mother To Mother
The only way to speak the
is to speak lovingly.
Henry David Thoreau
Daughter to Mother
by Rebecca Young
Even in the middle of speaking about that which matter most, Catherine was
always a mother first. Here, I clearly want her attention!
Catherine in December 2000, before her hip operation. No matter her
situation, she was always smiling.
See more PICTURES
My mother touched each and every
one of us. I first said that line on Friday, September 14, 2001, as our
friends and family gathered at Knox United Church in Clifford, Ontario to
celebrate the life of Catherine Anna Young. Other family members spoke about
Catherine the mom, the sister, the cousin. I spoke instead about Catherine
the publisher. In the wake of her death, there has been an amazing
outpouring of tributes and stories from her global community, some of which
we have reprinted on the last 5 pages of this issue. I also read a few of
these statements at the funeral. I managed to make it all the way through my
eulogy, but as I started to read the words of women who loved my mother so
simply and utterly, the tears rolled down my cheeks. I cried again as
I cut and pasted other tributes into the pages of her magazine, this
magazine which is now weighing quite heavily on my shoulders.
I am not a mother, as the title of this editorial clearly explains. I need
the mothers who are reading this to guide me as I put together each issue,
sharing your stories, advice, and wisdom. I am but your tool of
communication, so please, use me. This is what my mother wanted, and I am
willing to carry on her work for at least the next year. Hopefully by then
someone will come forward who can take over this labour of love, and I will
have reached a point in my life where I am willing to say goodbye. Until
then, I am here to serve my mother's vision. What follows is the eulogy I
read on Friday. This is how I saw my mother's life.
My mother changed the world. Mom was a leader, a pioneer and an icon in the
breastfeeding community. She had the rare and precious combination of
strength, courage and conviction that leads to greatness. Her vision
was singular, her life devoted to promoting natural pregnancy, birth and
breastfeeding. To this end, she published a small newsprint magazine. The
magazine was a voice in the dark, unapologetic and unabashedly radical. 17
years ago, Mom started to write what no one else was saying, pushing the
boundaries constructed by a birthing industry that had become medicalized.
It turned out that she was saying what thousands of women were
thinking, but no one else dared to verbalize. She was a pioneer, blazing a
path that would become a well-travelled road. And I live every day so
enormously proud that MY MOM was responsible for creating a safe space for
women to talk about breastfeeding in public, and birthing naturally.
Her style was in-your-face and all-or-nothing. Her passion sparked
controversy, but in its wake always ignited debate and made us all
reconsider truths previously held unquestioningly.
In the summer of 2000, I was hired to work at the Hamilton hospital where I
was born 21 years previously. A few days after I started, I had a meeting
with the lactation consultant. Throughout the meeting, we talked about the
internal political issues surrounding the World Breastfeeding Week
celebrations, and I interjected that such compromises would shock my mother.
The lactation consultant was interested to know about this well-informed
mother of mine, and I elaborated that my mom had a small breastfeeding
magazine, The Compleat Mother. This woman shocked me by shrieking, "You
are Catherine's daughter!?!" That was my first realization that Mom's
influence stretched outside a few select hippie communes, but certainly not
Mom, you have left your mark on souls around the world. I will do what I can
to ensure those souls have a page to share their version of your voice as
they choose to write it. I will make mistakes, as you did. I will make
changes, as you did. But I will never forget you, and will always honour
Daughter to Mother
by Rebecca Young
7 days before Christmas and the grass at the
farm is still green. Evidence of the only snowfall to date can be found in a
few small piles behind the barn, but for the most part, one would be excused
for thinking it was March around here. Yesterday the mail brought a package
from Helen in Florida, six beautiful Christmas ornaments personalized with
Mom's name on them. We weren't planning on having a tree here, but now I
have decided to put up a garland for the decorations.
Amanda, Zachary, my partner Jeremy and I will spend some time at the farm
over the holidays, and we will go to Mom's parents for our traditional
feast. It will be quiet, without the usual other guests we have had in
previous years. At the same time, I am really looking forward to this
celebration as a
chance to re-affirm our family-ness. Since Mom died, the three kids and the
grandparents have been together on Thanksgiving and for Amanda's birthday,
almost monthly. I was so excited to talk to Zak the other night and hear him
say he was looking forward to Christmas. Being happy together is a way to
honour Mom's memory, and I know she will be with us as we repeat the
traditions she presided over for most of my life. Many people have said that
the three month mark is difficult, and I pray that this holiday season is
Has it been three months since September 11, since the last issue, since all
of our lives were changed forever? It feels as if I looked away from the
magazine as it was being put to bed, and when I looked back at the paper in
front of me it said Spring 2002.
This issue is my first, as Mom had finished most of Winter 2001 before going
to the hospital. The compilation of an issue was not the daunting task I
expected it to me, as women from around the world generously submitted their
stories, illustrations, photos and letters. Rather it was the editing, what
not to include this time round, that made me pause. Jody and I discussed
Mom's unique ability to know what her readers needed, and I humbly
acknowledge I do not know enough about you to make such a judgment. So for
the most part, space and a balanced content were my two measures for
including work. Please, let us know what you think needs to be changed, what
is lacking, and hopefully, what you
like about this issue. You are my guides, so show me the path I should
One editorial decision I made was to print only a few of the tributes we
have received since the last issue. They can be found in Litters. This was a
difficult call, because the sheer numbers would suggest the tributes are an
important part of your grieving. However, my first and last thoughts were
about what Mom would do, and I think she would use the space on these pages
to share stories of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, and leave the
tributes to the website and your hearts.
A friend told me that grieving is a selfish process. I think it is also
surprising. After Mom died, I received many letters with suggestions and
comments about other women's grieving processes. My experience matches few
of those. Perhaps that is because most of us have never experienced a day
like September 11, 2001.
A few minutes before my mother died, two planes flew into the World Trade
Centre. And as the Pentagon was being attacked, I was watching her take her
last breath. When the plane crashed in Pennsylvania, I was making a list of
her possessions at the hospital and trying to watch my sister out of the
corner of my eye. By this time Jeremy had called from Bosnia, where he was
stationed as a NATO soldier, to say that he may not be home for the funeral,
because there was no air traffic planned to North America for the rest of
the week. And I watched the footage on television over and over again,
feeling only shock and amazement. All of my emotions were locked up, because
I had a magazine to put to bed and a funeral to plan and a life two hours
south of the farm to put on hold. So when I
was talking to my best friend who knew people working in the towers, or the
woman I volunteer with whose aunt lives near the crash site in Pennsylvania,
I had no empathy to share. I simply didn't know what to say or do because I
couldn't imagine what it must be like to be emotionally affected by the
The following month was a series of painful explanations, to women calling
the farm and to people who are trying to be supportive by asking, "so
how are you doing?". The reality was that that my nights were filled
with dreams of Mom and my days filled with the work she left for me to do,
but I did not want to try and explain that to the first person who asked
each day, let alone the sixth.
And then people stopped asking, and we drifted into November. That was
almost worse, because it felt like the world was too rapidly spinning away
from the last time I held Mom's hand. I stopped crying, and started working
more, and then started crying again when I realized November 11 had slipped
by without my notice. Ironic, to forget the two month mark on Remembrance
Day. That wasn't possible on October 11 and December 11, as the date was
internationally. The reasons may be different, but it all means the same to
me: my mom is gone. That emptiness is like nothing else.
As I look ahead to the spring, I hope for the symbolic feeling of re-birth
to grace my life. I'm going back to school in January, after a break this
fall to deal with everything that needed me more urgently than my studies.
But now that I have a routine with the magazine and the tea, I can fit a
couple of classes
into my schedule and I am excited about getting back to my life.
I hope you all had a celebration that gave you some happiness in December,
the darkest month of the year. Even in times of struggle and despair, the
healing properties of family and laughter are indisputable. I leave you with
Mom's favourite poem, the Serenity Prayer.
The Serenity Prayer
by Reinhold Neibuhr
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
~ Rebecca Young, owner of The Compleat Mother Magazine
Dear Mother Dear
Off the Line (News)
Birth, Joy, &
-a new video compiled by Catherine and Amanda Young
of The Compleat Mother
for more information on the waterbirth video!
here for the Home
Sweet Homebirth (Video)