“…I began to think that when the umbilical cord, like any other appendage, is severed from the body, the spiritual essence of it might still be there.  If you don’t believe that spiritual appendages remain, try telling an amputee he can no longer feel his missing body part.”

                                      —Bill Wilson in his essay, “Consider Your Navel.”

What if there is a spiritual connection between a mother and child that remains after the umbilical cord is cut?  What if, on some level, we still feel that connection much like an amputee still senses his missing arm or leg (what doctors explain as neurological phenomena)? 

And if so, what kind of priviledge/responsibility does that spiritual connection place upon a mother? 

What are your experiences with the connection to your birth mother?  Have you felt the cord?  If so, how does it manifest itself?  If not, why?  What can replace this connection, if anything?

Consider your navel.  Everybody has one.”


  1. Wendy

    July 2, 2007

    I hadn’t thought of my own connectedness with my mother as being partially physical . . . certainly there is a connection there, a desire for closeness and connectedness on a personal level. Interesting subject to consider–I really liked Bill Wilson’s article.

    I did hear of studies that have found that some of an infant’s cells stay in the mother for the rest of the mother’s life. Whomever did the study found foreign cells helping mothers heal from physical ailments, and the cells were later identified as from their child. I wish I were better at remembering specifics and explaining what they found, but that summarizes it pretty well. The implications of the discovery are really fascinating!

  2. martha

    July 2, 2007

    I’ve never felt my mother and I have much in common. I don’t look like her, I don’t feel as she feels, and my interests do not lie where hers lie. Over the last 4 years as I have become a mother I have realized that like Minnesota or Michigan, she is also where I come from. As I struggle to be a good mother I’ve felt a strong physical connection to my mother. The love and nurture she showed me flows to my children. I often feel her and long to intimately understand who she was as a young mother. The last few months I’ve thought of the spiritual connection that I have with my children as being eternal, I feel them, even when they are not in my physical grasp. I hope to pass to my children, all the gentle love and tenderness that connects me forever to my mother.

  3. rynell

    July 2, 2007

    I am adopted. And although I’m close with my family, this physical connection hadn’t really occurred to me until my first child was born. The minute she cried I saw my own mouth in a miniature version. I knew we were connected in a way that I had never experienced before.

    There are times when I wonder about the physical connection I’m missing with my birth mother. I don’t obsess over it– just wonder about it on my birthday. I don’t feel any great absence or chasm in my life… just a simple wondering from time to time.

    Mostly, I am fascinated by my three kids and the manifestations of DNA that I recognize.

  4. Emily M.

    July 2, 2007

    I loved this article–it’s one of my favorites from the Mortal Body issue.

    I like watching the mother-child bond in different generations. I see the way my mother cares for her mother, the way my husband’s aunt cares for his grandmother.

    I also feel connected to my mother, although I am not as patient with my kids as she is. And I wonder: how will my kids feel about me in twenty years? I hope we still connect.

  5. pjb

    November 10, 2007

    I see my mother’s cells both of the good and not so good in my thoughts and behavior. I have some disdain and some admiration at varying levels reflected in myself of my mother. I love her dearly, but fight some of the genetic dispositions.
    I did not know however, until I gave birth that such a deep connection existed. I wondered why my mother didn’t love me as I now felt with my newborn. My perception of course.
    I now ponder my deep love as a mother and how I am suppose to react to my daughter placing her daughter for adoption.
    I am so connected to my children. From seeing that attached cord, the cutting of the cord, to the tending of the drying up process and falling off. I even kept my first daughters dried cord!
    I am grateful indeed for adoption. I just can’t somehow fathom that separation in any format. I am not saying that I don’t understand it and support it.
    I just am in the process of continually digesting it.

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