Here's a little something I submitted to Hip Mama magazine, it was summarily rejected but who better to receive a rejection letter from than Ariel Gore herself! I'm not hatin' I just know I've got to tighten up my style. Still I hope someone finds it useful.
As in Labor, so in Parenting
Nothing prepares a woman for parenthood so well as labor. As in parenthood in labor we are asked to do the impossible, as in parenthood, in labor endless resources are required of us: patience, energy, strength, courage, compassion. And as in parenthood no amount of reading, classes or well meant advise can ensure a trouble free navigation of our experience but can only guide us and give us an idea of the endless choices available to us.
Both labor and parenthood require amazing flexibility. We must always be ready to admit "this isn't working, now what?". My son is profoundly dyslexic and we've been facing difficulties lately. Simply telling him to clean his room is an insurmountable challenge. I'm learning that every small step must be broken down to it's very smallest component. It's frustrating, and sadly I came to this revelation only after years of nagging, anger, and disappointment over the child he is and grieving the child he is not. And how many women have been "stuck" in labor at three or seven centimeters? For hours and hours they may try rocking in a chair, or on their hands and knees before they come to the conclusion that "this is not working" and they begin to squat or lunge or attempt some other trick which helps turn the baby and they begin to dilate once more.
In labor and parenting each stage brings it's own joys, fears, and sorrows. We open and let go, open and let go. Opening our hearts and setting ourselves up for the inevitability of the pain of rejection and change. When parenting, we can close ourselves down, make ourselves hard and unyielding, when faced with teenage rebellion, a toddler's tantrum, a child's whine, how easy it is to do so! But we learn from our labor lessons that the more tense we are the more painful contractions feel. We learn to relax into contractions, opening our throats and pelvises, softening our jaws, dropping our shoulders along with our defenses. What if we responded to the pain of parenting in the same way? What if we listened instead of shutting down? What if we opened our hearts instead of hardening them?Both parenting and labor require tremendous sacrifice. The unexamined use of medication in labor can cause more problems than it solves, but it can require iron resolve not to use it. The constant needs of an infant can exhaust us and it sometimes requires our very last bit of strength to resist giving a bottle of formula. Dealing with adolescent surliness can drain us to the last ounce of our compassion and still, in all scenarios, more is required of us, and then yet more.
Labor is an ecstatic, painful, messy, beautiful, difficult, joyous experience. So is parenting; but only when we do so with love, the support of others and often a great deal of equal parts grace, humor, and mental toughness. And never imagine that you will be the perfect parent or have the perfect labor. Let go of perfection and instead, reach for something better: your own imperfect, loving, humbling, stunning, miraculous, authentic experience.