Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Crying Of The Mothers

A good friend, Shadowinter, googled this and shared it with some of us moms. I just had to print it here. I don't know who the original author is, but, in human terms, it could be a guilty social worker.

"PERHAPS SEPARATION BECAME my special talent, because at thirteen my father put me in charge of separating the calves from the cows when it was time to wean them from their mothers’ milk.

On this day, the cows are herded into the barn, their udders heavy with milk. As usual, they file in and put their necks through the stanchions lining the barn. The slats are closed around their necks to hold them in place during milking. But as they enter the barn, their calves are culled away and taken by me to a separate pen I have prepared for them with fresh straw in another part of the barn.

At first the cows don’t realize what’s happening. They move through the enclosures and gates in their docile way. They eat the oats put in place for them inside the stanchions. But once outside the barn, after milking, they begin to look around, to sniff, as if trying to recall something they’ve forgotten. They turn their long necks; they swish their tails. Nothing.
Then they begin to call out, low mooing, until the calves answer. The cows moo and moo in the direction of the calves’ voices, and the calves bleat back. This goes on for hours. The crying becomes unbearable. The calves look so small in their holding pen. They stick their heads through the fence, their bodies shaking as they wail. They push their hungry voices toward their mothers’ frantic calling: “Where are you? Where are you?”
“Here I am. Here I am.”

The separation of an offspring from a parent. It’s the most unnatural event. You feel cruel when you’re the one enforcing it. On those days, I will myself not to think about it. I only know that it’s my job to feed them. I step into the holding pen with buckets of the warm milk I’ve mixed from powder. Our farm depends upon the real milk the mothers produce. I must convince the calves to accept the substitute.

One by one I take the bawling face of a calf into my hands; I dip my fingertips in the milky liquid in the bucket that rests hard-edged and shiny silver between my legs; I slip my wet fingers into the mouth of the crying calf. One by one they begin to suck, from exhaustion and hunger and instinct—the soft sandpaper tongue, the little pricks of new teeth on my fingertips, the slurping as they finally dip their snouts into the bucket of milk. As they drink, the calves cry and hiccough. I stroke the curls on their soft foreheads. One by one they lie down in their new straw beds, stretch their long downy necks, and sleep.

They quiet this way, one after the other, until all is silent in the calf shed, but the crying in the mothers’ holding pen doesn’t stop. It goes on through the night and into the next day, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days. (And with human mother, for years and years. rw*)

(Like all animals, cows form strong maternal bonds with their children, and on dairy farms and cattle ranches, mother cows can be heard crying out for their calves for days after they are separated.)"
So, as it goes with adoption, the calves do what they have to do to survive and the cows grieve and accept the plundering of their children and their full udders. If there ever has been a good example given of how mothers of adoption loss are used and abused, this is it.
Human Mothers also form strong bonds with their offspring while carrying them in their bodies, even those who think they don't want to be mothers and say they are happy they surrendered. Sooner or later, the crying will begin. Mine was muffled in my pillow, late at night. I knew that no one would want to hear it, nor would they accept the reasons behind it.
Dairy farming is based on this unnatural separation, to control the breeding, ensure the milk supply and re-direct the final product. Adoption, especially that kind of adoption that has a bit if eugenics thrown in to the mix, is basically the same concept, only it is the human mother and child that are being separated and the mother becomes a non-entity once the product is harvested. The essential wrongness of it is the same in any species. And so is that empty pain.
I can remember hearing the bleating of the calves and the calls of the cows from the huge Black Angus meat and dairy herd across the valley when I was little. They were separating the calves from the cows and some of the calves were being slaughtered for veal while the mothers grieved. I slept with my window open and could hear it, late into the night. When I asked my grandfather why they were making so much noise, he tried to give me a gentle version, but I still cried.
No, we are not dairy cattle, but we ARE Mothers. I wonder if it would have been better had we been unable to reason and unaware of the finality of the separation? I still don't accept the explanations I was given by those who forced the surrender of my children.
And, unlike a mother cow, I can remember.

1 comment:

silentwitness said...

you are so right, we are not dairy cattle we are mothers but some of us were treated like cattle and our babies removed from us and put up for adoption. I liken us to elephants because like elephants we NEVER forget much as they would like us to!

an irish birthmother to a son born on 22/12/81 lost to adoption under severe duress!

~see I did not forget you, I carved you in the palm of my hand~