Reprinted from The Lakeville Journal, Thursday, November 13, 2003
Debra Tyler recalls the little boy who once visited the small dairy farm she runs. He pointed the cows out to his grandfather, rather amazed that they were all lying down in the field. His grandfather replied that they were all working, busy making milk.
“He knew how much more productive a cow is when she is relaxed,” Tyler said. “People could learn a lot from cows.”
About a decade ago, Tyler left a teaching position at North Canaan Elementary School to run Local Farm, producing raw milk sold in glass bottles. Running the Popple Swamp Road farm and becoming a mother gave her opportunity to reflect on what it means to be a nurturing person, and the related stress. Meanwhile, she watched visitors to her farm experience a relaxing effect. As they watched her contented cows do nothing more than stand in the pasture and chew, she watched people change before her eyes.
“It’s about realizing that mothers, who do so much for others, are not in the habit of taking time for themselves. The farm provides such an ideal setting and my goal is to make it a retreat.”
Motherhouse is not a place that has magically dropped out of the sky, Tyler said. It has taken work on her part and others who have in the past year formed a board of directors.
“Ideally, I would like to have regular meetings, Le Leche League and meditation groups. There would be workshops on specific topics and retreat days or weekends for moms, or moms and daughters, pregnant or adopting couples.”
It’s also about moms, and other nurturers, setting aside time to be together with the children in a setting as stress-free as possible.
Currently, Motherhouse offers Meditation for Mothers for an hour every Thursday afternoon in the United Church of Christ congregational dayroom. The time together is split between talking and meditating.
Once or twice a year she offers a workshop on keeping a family cow. She has hosted family sings, video/discussion sessions and workshops on natural remedies. This past Saturday, a group of moms and youngsters met in the Local Farm hayloft to make braided baling-twine wreaths. It provided a window amidst the day’s responsibilities to visit, be creative, and for moms and children to simply have fun together.
At the Cornwall Library, Motherhouse board member Anita Colgate is largely responsible for a shelf of parenting books and materials that started with the donation of several issues of Mothering Magazine.
While Tyler strives not to lose sight of the basic goal – to offer a gift of peace to mothers – the need to solidify those goals and plans has become important. Donations of funding and expertise can be accepted and misconceptions avoided.
“There has been some confusion. Some people thought I was starting a home for unwed mothers. I would love to be able to accommodate that need, but it’s not a goal.”
She gets a kick out of recent news that the orphanage started in India by Mother Theresa is being renamed Motherhouse, a name also used for a convent there.
“I see myself as a liaison between cows and people.” For more information on Motherhouse, Tyler can be reached at (860)672-0229 or firstname.lastname@example.org.