This morning my oldest daughter made me a necklace. She couldn’t find a jewelry fastener, so she improvised. She handed it to me with pride, waiting to see my delight, then added, “It might be a little pokey.”
I oohed and awed over the necklace, then started to set it down. Little questioning eyes looked up at me, “Aren’t you going to wear it?”
“Of course, I’m going to wear it,” I said as I fastened it around my neck.
As I walked across the street to the grocery store with a bright pony beads held together with hardware fastened around my neck, I fought feelings of self-consciousness. I started thinking about all the times that being a mother has made me look silly, crazy, or just undignified. Like when strangers point out that I have a large red “Only $2.99!” sticker on my rear. Or when I found a toy frog in a bra I was wearing. Or the many times I’ve carried a child kicking and screaming out of a public place. Or the things I say (“Get your finger out of Jesus’ nose!” or “Don’t lick the toilet!”). Or using a public restroom with a small child who always comments on various aspects of the experience and/or opens the stall door at the worst time. Or being peed, puked, or pooped on.
While I was thinking on these indignities of motherhood, I thought of the Fistula Foundation— an organization that helps women with childbirth injuries. When you make a donation to the Fistula Foundation, they send you a gift, a dignity scarf or a dignity necklace. In places where women (girls) are married young, malnourished, and maternal care is not readily available, childbirth injuries are common. These injuries result in a fistula (hole) that allows urine or feces to leak constantly from the woman. The Fistula Foundation has hospitals in 19 countries, offering surgeries that restore dignity and hope to women.
Every year on my girls’ birthdays, I try to donate to the Fistula Foundation. Mother’s Day seems like a good day to do so as well. And their dignity necklace is a little more, well, dignified than the one I received this morning.
If you have 53 minutes and want to learn more, there is a short documentary on Nova called A Walk to Beautiful. It is a beautiful story of hope and healing.