Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

Inspired by Rick Berry, a painter whose figures are unabashed, but not always as curvy as the mature woman in this poem.

A woman–
She dances in the morning light
In the power of her unabashed curvature–
The full breast, the round stomach,
The tender rosy tint of her skin
In the glow of the rising sun.

Hers is the beauty of having labored,
Confident in the strength of her body
That more than once released a newborn,
Wet with the blood and fluid of her womb
Then held upon her warm sweaty midriff
And welcomed with fresh milk into
A legacy of human struggle.

These she nurtured with love and soft arms.
This dance now is to reclaim her rhythm.
She moves with the pulse of the drum
As if it’s her own heartbeat.
She feels the deep strum of bass
As if it’s the earth’s ground.
She sighs with the high breathy flute
As if it’s the cloud on which she floats.

There is sinew under her soft supple skin.
Her body’s muscles echo the millions of ancestral mothers
Who have come before her bearing two-limbed fruit
And daring to strive forth daily in tasks and joys.
She sinks into all her senses.
She smells the oil of amber and rose upon her wrist.
She feels the warmth of sunlight upon her face.
She tastes a ripe peach and rejoices in its juice.
Her feet, touching bare upon the ground, stomp to the beat of drum.
She sees sky, grass, flower, a child’s face, and a man’s weathered yet longed-for visage.
She hears her own voice singing in sympathy with the music’s rhythm
And her heart cries for beauty in all and in awe.

She dances life and death and life again–
A woman.

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For a friend whose son recently lost his struggle with addiction, here is a song for a mother.

Waltz of the Dove

Oh Sad Dove, fly free!
Oh Sad Dove, fly free!
Free as the clouds, free as the breeze,
Free as the rain, free as the sea.

Free your Pains, free your Fears,
Free your Chains, free your Tears.
Free to feel, free to cry,
Free to say What is why.

Oh Sweet Dove, sail on!
Oh Sweet Dove, sail on!
On to the Stars, on to Wherever
You float on my Love forever

Your Truth is here, bound to my Heart,
Your Love is here, found in my Heart.
Sail to the Joy, sail to the Bright,
Sail to the Peace, sail to the Light.

Oh Sad Dove, fly free!
Oh Sweet Dove, sail on!
Free as the clouds, free as the breeze,
Free as the rain, free as the sea.


The music is here: https://soundcloud.com/janhapharp/waltz-of-the-dove


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This is the song I’ve been trying to write about my mother, myself, and my daughter for a while now. Ten years ago, my favorite aunt and uncle, independently of each other, both confessed to me during holiday phone calls that my mother had been verbally and physically abused by her father. I always knew that my mother was “the black sheep” among her parents’ 11 children, so I was not surprised to hear this confession. I have performed this and have yet to record it. Remember as you read it, that my mother is Long Ago, I am Yesterday, and my daughter is Today. I am also the Supergirl who soared from rock to rock in the field behind the house we lived in when I was a young girl.

In the Backyard of Yesterday’s Dreams

In the backyard of Yesterday’s dreams,
Knowing she’s powerful and could never die,
Supergirl soars from one rock to another
Thinking “I can do anything and I can fly”,
And she’s just a little child.

Long-Ago Child cried at others’ pain,
Spoke out loud about things unseen,
A loud voice and a hard hand
Silenced the wondering and dammed in the dream,
Yet she’s just a little child.

Long-Ago Mother falls from a broken tree.
Long-Ago Mother speaks in kisses and screams.
Yet Yesterday’s Child finally gets to be free
for Long-Ago Mother fosters Yesterday’s dreams,
For she’s just a little child.

My visions take me to worlds in the stars.
My arms carry me as a winged lioness.
My voice commands both villains and victors.
I can do anything and I can fly, I can fly, I can fly…
And I’m just a little child, who is becoming a mother.

My breast a soft pillow under her head–
Poetry of the heart is a gentle beat.
For my own baby, no hurt, no dread.
Poetry of the heart is a smile so sweet,
For she’s just a little child.

Today’s Child has justified visions,
Speaks of healing the scratches from screams.
A soft voice and a tender touch
Welcomes her wondering and delights in her dreams,
For she’s just a little child.

In the backyard of Yesterday’s dreams,
Knowing she’s powerful and could never die,
Supergirl soars from one rock to another,
Thinking, “I can do anything and I can fly.”
And she’s just a little child.

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Ave Maria, Gratia PlenaI have just finished composing this song for harp and voice for performance as guest artist at a Vespers next Sunday.  The topic provided to me was “Mary” or “commitment” or “The Three Kings”.  I was inspired by the first two (the breastfeeding counselor in me, obviously).

The melody is “odd”.  In the chorus, the word “Maria” always starts with a descending tritone, which is echoed in other parts of the chorus and verse (on the important word of the phrase).  This melodic device is an homage to another “Maria”.  If you can guess who’s and where, you get special points from me (but other than that you got the point, I’m not sure what’s special that I can give you).

Instead of the usual western chords, I mostly play a sustinato 5th of F-C (even when I start with the tritone on Bb to E), and the musical interludes have a decidedly Latin flavor with lots of thirds and off-beat rhythms. Overall, it sounds “ethereal” to me–so the feel is not “cutesy” at all.  I promise I will upload a performance in the new year (once I figure out how to record something that replays well in the computer).

Ethereal--indeed, to Maria, ethereal is how she might have felt when a winged angel appeared at her side.  And ethereal is sometimes how a first-time mother feels when she holds and nurses her baby in those beginning days.  Ethereal is what a mother feels knowing that this new child is now “my child forever” (“the rest of my life”).  So, my other homage in this song is to that of “the great mother”–eternal, ethereal, loving, warm, sustaining, light-shining, powerful, and any other “amazingness” you’d like to assign the great mother.  PAX

Maria of the Shining Light


Maria, Maria, Maria,
A woman, a mother, a wife,
Maria, Maria, Maria,
Bright emblem of loving and life.


Archangel Gabriel flew into your sight,
Declared he, “Shall birth you a child of might.
I vow that Joseph will honor this right
And promise that you shall be mother of light.”

Three womanly joys in us you do rest:
Devotion and reverence, a sweet love sure blest;
Provision and sustenance, kind milk of one’s breast;
Salvation and providence, warm arms as babe’s nest.

A small infant, whimpering, squirms in my clutch,
I salve baby’s hunger with soft milky touch.
O, help me, Maria, commit to this much.
On all mothers, Maria, shine your light such.

Final Chorus:

Maria, Maria, Maria,
Wise woman, great mother, good wife,
Maria, Maria, Maria,
Shining paragon of loving and life.

© Janna Maria Fröhlich, 12/31/2011

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The Chocolate Spectrum of Childrearing

Babies are milk chocolate because…

They are warm and cuddly and comforting and you can hold them close and feel unconditionally loved and loving, and you feel like you are in heaven and that time stands still when you hold them in your arms and nurse them.

Toddlers are semi-sweet chocolate because…

They are mostly warm and cuddly, but with a little bit of devil to keep you up at night and sometimes a bit of bite too.

Preschoolers are bittersweet chocolate because…

They choose when they want to be warm and cuddly, and definitely have creative and stubborn minds of their own.  But they also perceive what is magical in the world.

Schoolers are like a mocha latté because…

Without them, you wouldn’t get up in the morning and then keep on going all day (chauffering, teaching, school volunteering, answering, coaching, helping with science projects, listening to their concerns, etc.).

Schoolers grow into high schoolers, and then into college kids or young adults, and then (perhaps) into the parents of our grandchildren.   Does parenting ever really end?  Maybe not until you’re the one in diapers.

Each of these stages has different needs from your parenting.  But…each of these stages benefits from having grown to know your child through breastfeeding.

Like the saying goes, infantile needs met in infancy won’t have to be met in adulthood.  If you have learned your child through breastfeeding (i.e., developed your mothering skills through breastfeeding), you usually know best what your child needs from the baby stage on up.  When you mother your older nursling with breastfeeding, you are meeting his or her needs, and sometimes meet your own too.  You get to put your feet up knowing exactly where your child is…right there in your lap on the couch or next to you in the family bed…and he or she is not getting into trouble.  And while you sometimes feel that this long-term breastfeeding is a burden or you feel touched out and tired, you are comforted knowing you nourish the heart, body, and soul of your aging nursling.

Then one day, you both wake up and the nursing is over and done with…your child is past that intense need.  A simple hug and kiss or a supportive word at the right moment will do.  This doesn’t mean you won’t be faced with challenges and quandaries about “what to do!” and that question every mother hates to ask herself:  “Am I doing the right thing?”  Trust me, one evening when you go in to simply kiss your child goodnight, your 11-year-old will tearfully say to you “Mommy, how come Julia has a best friend and I don’t?!” or whine begrudgingly “Mommy, how come Sam always gets the soccer ball and no one will pass to me?!”  Then, wracking your brain to come up with the right answers for these unanswerable concerns, you will spend 30 minutes going over the details with your child while in your head you are asking yourself:  “What can I do to help my child through this RIGHT NOW, because it’s 9:30 (or 10:30, or even 11:30 pm), and I really just want to go to bed and get some sleep!”  And you will wish, wistfully, that you could solve these dilemmas with something as simple as a mouthful of breast as you lay back on the pillow enjoying some peace and quiet.

* * * * *

But many years later, you will taste the creamiest milk chocolate when your 16-year-old son, about to embark on a school trip to Europe, stays last in line through airport security so that he can call you over and get one last hug good-bye (mind you, when everyone else is completely and thoroughly through the gate so that no one else can see him get that hug).  Or, because your advice is the one that counts, you will savor the bittersweet chocolate of young adulthood when your 19-year-old daughter invites you along to get her first tattoo (and even solicits your advice on its design, size, and location).

These rare, precious moments will be the delicious truffles of your middle life–letting you know that you have done the right thing after all.  At every stage and every level of dependence –> independence, our children need to be nurtured and to be reassured they are loved and respected and cared for.  The challenge for ourselves is to find the chocolate in the experience.

originally drafted 4/10/10, edited 11/21/11

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yellow rose in a blue vase

pain waves
back aches
sweat drips
eyes see
yellow rose in a blue vase

translucent blue glass
light as sky on a June day
profuse lemony petals
warm like butter
scent like peaches

yellow rose in a blue vase
color louder than sharp tensing spasms

eyes close
ears hear
throat noises
mouth roars
sound louder than red burning pangs

taste nothing but cold water
smell nothing but hot sweat
feel nothing but urges
feel nothing but
something holding me
something squeezing through me
something letting go of me

feel nothing but eternity timelessness unbeing allbeing

eyes open
feel nothing but warm wet skin
feel nothing but wet cool cloth

arms outstretch
feel something fragile
take something tiny
hold something wholly holy
see something alive
beginning being

See a boy.
Touch his hands.
Kiss his face.
Hear his wordless voice.
Smell his freshness.

sweat cools
back rests
joy waves
eyes look up
yellow rose in a blue vase
eyes see
eyes smile

I see.
I smile.

–for C

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