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The time I cried like a baby…

About a year ago I was filling up my truck with gas in Ohsweken. When I went inside the store to pay, there sitting on the counter was the most adorable newborn Ongwehowe baby girl. She had black fuzzy hair, dark eyes, beautiful brown skin and the tiniest pink lips. Mama was proudly showing her off to friends around the village in what I can only assume was her first day out since giving birth.

About a year ago I was filling up my truck with gas in Ohsweken. When I went inside the store to pay, there sitting on the counter was the most adorable newborn Ongwehowe baby girl. She had black fuzzy hair, dark eyes, beautiful brown skin and the tiniest pink lips. Mama was proudly showing her off to friends around the village in what I can only assume was her first day out since giving birth.

I looked at this beautiful tiny baby and gushed to her mama about how cute she was. “Look at her!” I cooed. “What a perfectly beautiful baby girl! She’s adorable! How old?”
“Seven days,” said her mama.

As I stared lovingly at this, the newest Ongwehowe baby on Six, my eyes welled up with alligator tears and I just about lost ‘er in the middle of the gas station. ‘What the heck?!’ I thought to myself. ‘What am I doing?’

There I stood on the brink of bawling. Embarrassed, I threw my gas money at the attendant, turned and abruptly ran out of the store. Once I reached the safety of my truck, I burst into tears. Somehow in the middle of the village I was having an emotional meltdown over seeing a newborn and I had no idea why. ‘Ugh! Get it together and quit being such a baby!’, I thought to myself.

Shortly after that my sister got pregnant with her first child. All through the pregnancy I would gush about how excited I was to meet my niece when suddenly I would, again, burst into tears. In the coming months and with every additional baby I saw my reactions grew more intense. I’d see a baby at the Laundromat and get all weepy. Never mind if I got to see a toddler discovering something for the first time. Observing a one year old pick up Cheerios with careful dexterity and chubby fingers was enough to turn me into a babbling idiot. It was getting ridiculous and it wasn’t just Ongwehowe babies anymore; British babies, Mexican babies, Pakistani babies – heck even the Royal Baby got me crying! How in the world did babies become my Kryptonite?

When I was small my dad used to sing me this song. It went, “Nahnda is a baby, a baby, a baby…Nahnda is a baby a little baby girl.” Then he would go on by listing everyone else we knew. He would sing, “Daddy was a baby, a little baby boy…Mommy was a baby, a little baby girl.” My dad would sing on, naming everyone in the family, telling how everyone was a baby at one point in time. It’s just a simple song, but it was medicine! When I was grown and my own daughters were having a tantrum I couldn’t drag them out of, I’d sing that song. Suddenly the tantrum would calm and there would be some deep listening going on inside the mind of my two year old.

It just might be that right there that evokes such an emotional response at the sight of babies – recognizing the incredible responsibility one carries when imparting anything onto a newborn. Those vulnerable early moments a child stops and listens to absorb whatever part of life you represent. They come into the world by order of “He who created our bodies” with a set number of days and a purpose – and then we come in – armed to either empower them or corrupt them as they sit and watch and listen to everything we do.

Everyone was a baby. Everyone was born a bundle of hope for society. And every baby is raised subject to the beliefs and understanding of their caretakers. That is a humbling thought when considering the beginnings of our enemies isn’t it? Sometimes I have to remind myself of that medicine. Lately it’s been to the tune of “Stephen Harper was a baby, a little baby boy…” followed by some deep breathing techniques.

Day in and day out, babies are born into the indigenous community. They are loved, they are nurtured and they are the hope for our future. Likewise day after day thousands of babies are born into the arms of those who would position themselves as our opponents. They are loved, nurtured, and taught the ways of their people. Sometimes they become the Gary McHale’s of the next generation, sometimes they become the Joe and Jane Canadians – totally unaware of indigenous issues at all, and sometimes they become Deskaheh’s. Whoever they are born to, and whomever they become; all babies are subject to carry on the work of the generation that raises them. Perhaps this is the mercy makes me cry. Despite the struggles of today, I can now see a promise of hope for the future manifested in the tiny fingers of a child.

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Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow is Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

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1 Comment

  • RedIndianGirl
    June 11, 2014, 10:37 am

    I’m with you — I have exactly the same feelings when I meet a new baby, onkwehonhwe or not.

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