“I’m a mother kangaroo and I haven’t a pocket to carry my child in. How shall I carry him? What shall I do?”
“Get a pocket,” said the owl….
(from Katy No-Pocket by Emmy Payne)
Shanna brought me a simply lovely hardcover copy of this delightful book back from her house hunting trip to Boston. I used to use Katy No-Pocket in the classroom and have always loved the story and the illustrations by H.A. Rey. But now, as a mom, it means something more to me than it did before.
Now I understand what it is to feel ill-equipped for motherhood. I understand the feeling that everybody has something I don’t have and that my child is missing out somehow. In Katy No-Pocket, Katy first tries to find out how other animal mothers carry their babies but none of their techniques will work for her. Then she gets the advice to just get what she doesn’t have–a pocket. She goes to the big city to look for a pocket and ends up with more pockets than any mother kangaroo in the world. I think it’s a cute story, but also such a true picture of what we have to do as first-time mothers. It isn’t enough to just try what you think other people do, people who are drastically different from you. You have to find a way to get whatever it is you don’t have, whether that be knowledge, confidence, help, or encouragement. For me, this process started with calling for the lactation nurse when I was still in the hospital after my son’s birth. I didn’t have the knowledge or practice I needed in order to breastfeed. I couldn’t just do what I had seen other mothers do–it just wasn’t as easy as they made it look. So I got what I needed. I made a phone call and she helped me learn how to feed my baby. Once I got what I needed, I felt equiped to do what I felt was incredibly important for my boy. It made all the difference. Later, when I needed the encouragement, support, and advice of other mothers of toddlers, I joined a MOPS group to get what I needed. I went looking for pockets and found them in dozens, even enough to share. This week I’ve gotten to share some “pockets” with my little sister in her first week as a new mommy. What a privilege and a joy that is!