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Universal Symbols: The Unspoken Language of Motherhood

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The International Museum of Women (IMOW) -- the world's only online museum dedicated exclusively to women's issues -- recently launched a year-long art exhibit on maternal health. Motherhood Around the Globe (MAMA) is a diverse multi-media portrayal of the joys and struggles of motherhood from artists who celebrate the universality of motherhood through their creative and insightful depictions. The exhibit highlights powerful stories about the struggles of real women, inspiring others to engage, and creating an even greater awareness of vital issues affecting mothers everywhere.

As I browsed the exhibit, I kept coming back to one painting, SINGLE MOTHER: THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE WORLD (Lesean Bowe/USA). It featured a woman holding a new baby in one hand and the globe in the other. It got me thinking about hands as a universal symbol of motherhood. When our children are born, we use our hands to cradle their heads; our hands literally become an extension of their tiny dependent bodies. As they grow, we hold their hands to cross the street or to accompany them on their first day of school. And now that my sons are older and no longer need to hold my hand, I use those same hands to clap and cheer their every victory and milestone. Hands are a universal tool we all use to stay connected, especially as mothers. They're the perfect symbol of the unspoken language of motherhood.

No matter what language you speak, what personal belief system guides you, or what border surrounds you, at our core, all mothers want the exact same thing - a healthy and independent family. At BabyCenter, we know that it's the shared wisdom and support that connects one mom to another and truly makes a difference in their maternal journeys. This connection reminds me, and all mothers, that we're part of a larger tribe. It is the empathy we share that binds us.

If we as moms can continue to tap into this notion that the journey is universally shared, that the job and the emotion of being a mom is the same for every mother, no matter how resource challenged, we can build an empathy network that can change the world. The universal connection of one mom to another increases the awareness of the needs and disparities that exist today. This awareness leads to greater compassion, which can lead to action, and, ultimately, better lives.

IMOW is adding a new gallery to the MAMA exhibit each month. The latest one is MAMA Then & Now, which addresses how motherhood transcends countries, generations and cultures - yet another example of the universality of motherhood. I would encourage you to bookmark the exhibit and keep coming back. As each new installation unfolds, new dimensions of the maternal journey surface and may inspire you in completely fresh ways. The simple act of viewing the exhibit can help other moms by raising the awareness of our universal struggles as mothers. You will become part of the empathy network and hold mom's hand.

Let me know which piece in the exhibit speaks to you.

I hope this has inspired you to take action. To help other mothers around the world, you can join BabyCenter's parent company, Johnson & Johnson by volunteering or with a donation to:

Global Fund for Women: Promoting women's economic security, health, education and leadership

Save the Children: Working in communities to help children and their families

March of Dimes: Helping moms care for themselves and their families

Please visit the Johnson & Johnson website to learn more about their community-based programs and partners that are working improve health and well-being of mothers and children.