AUBURN — Two years ago, parishioners of Sacred Heart in Auburn and St. Ann in Owasco gathered more than 1,000 containers of diapers and baby wipes for the Pregnancy Care Center of Cayuga County to distribute to mothers in need, according to Deacon Nick Valvo.
This year parishioners once again desired to help needy mothers, but many of them were seeking a concrete way to provide more direct assistance to these women, he said.
“The conversation kind of turned to, perhaps we could ask parishioners to volunteer some of their time to journey with women who are in this situation,” Deacon Valvo recalled. “The stumbling block was how do we connect with a woman who is in need or would like to have a companion to share some of this journey with and get support from.”
Enter Marge Tracy, who not only is a Sacred Heart parishioner but also is a certified nurse midwife with Auburn Obstetrics and Gynecology. A nurse since 1974 and a midwife since 1999, Tracy has long wanted to find a way to provide meaningful, personal support to new mothers.
“There’s always going to be diapers and wipes, but sometimes you just need to have a person that puts their hand on somebody, that says, ‘I can help you with this.’ Young mothers just don’t have the same support system in this generation that they had in other generations,” Tracy explained.
As one of four midwives who deliver the majority of babies born at Auburn Memorial Hospital, Tracy is in frequent contact with many of the new mothers in the Auburn community. Tracy and Deacon Valvo put their heads together and came up with the idea for Mentoring Mothers, a new initiative that seeks to forge connections between experienced mothers and younger women who are struggling in the trenches of motherhood.
“If you’ve raised children and gone through some of these struggles yourself and you’ve come out the other side a whole person and happier and you feel like you’ve done a good job raising your family, you have something to offer to young women who are struggling to do the same thing,” Tracy said.
The realities of motherhood can be overwhelming for many women, she explained. It can be daunting for them to realize they are responsible for another human being who is completely dependent on them, she said. Being a mother is a job that lasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the rest of a woman’s life, and babies don’t come with operating instructions, Tracy added.
“I mean, who would sign on for this job? Who says yes to that? But we do, and we don’t necessarily think about it in the beginning. Then when we do have this child, it’s a lot of work, and not everybody has the same coping skills,” she remarked.
Regardless of her circumstances, background or skill set, however, virtually every mother wants to be a good mother and wants the best for her child, Tracy said. These women likely could benefit from drawing on the wisdom of older or more experienced mothers in the Auburn community, she noted. These days many are quick to turn to Google for answers, but an Internet search provides facts but not the equally valuable wisdom, experience and insights another person can provide, Tracy said.
Some mothers could benefit from having someone to reach out to when they’re alone with an inconsolable infant in the middle of the night, while others may need someone to help them learn to plan and cook nutritious meals or create a weekly budget, Tracy said. Still other moms, she said, might be terrified at the thought of re-entering the job market after taking time off to raise their children and could benefit from talking with a woman who works in human resources and could help them brush up their interview skills.
“In my mind we’re going to get enough women to volunteer for this that we’re going to be able to offer some of those kinds of things,” said Tracy, who in April put a notice in Sacred Heart and St. Ann’s bulletin seeking women interested in volunteering with the mentoring ministry. “I think we have enough of a cross-section of women in this parish and this community that are very generous with their time and talent, if we could just hook them up with the right people.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Anyone in the Auburn community who is interested in becoming involved with Mentoring Mothers should contact Deacon Nick Valvo at 315-252-2181 or the Sacred Heart Parish office at 315-252-7271.