Every time something negative happens I always find myself wondering why. Is there a lesson I need to learn? Do I deserve this because of the choices I make? I had an experience recently that really made me think about a lot of things.
Even a few days removed it does not seem like such a big deal, so please, forgive my drama. I have had some issues with rashes on my hands for a few months. They itch and burn and swell and eventually the skin cracks and bleeds from the swelling. Last week it got the the worst it has ever been and I found myself in agony.
My hands just felt like they were on fire. It was probably the most painful thing I have experienced. Needless to say, after something like this I am always disappointed in my inability to handle such events with any degree of grace. Instead there was self pity, tears, impatience and a general woe is me attitude.
So that was the pain part-
Pain has an amazing way of teaching humility though. I am a big proponent of a more natural lifestyle. I often find myself wondering why people take so many drugs or eat badly or just generally doing things I "would never" do.
Oh my- if there was a pill I could have taken to make this go away, I would have sold my left arm for it. The experience gave me something that I can lack, a little more empathy for the experiences of those around me.
I have had people dealing with similar things around me and I was prone to advice. "Why don't you try this....." or, "Maybe you should change your diet..."
Needless to say, none too helpful in a loved one's time of suffering and need. I hope that I will be able to "get it" a little better now when somebody I care for is suffering.
Now for the joy-
If you are a housewife like me maybe you occasionally experience an overwhelming feeling of distaste for all things falling under the catergory of domestic chores. My laundry is never done, the dishes are endless, some parts of the house never seem to get clean and a hint of urine is often in the air. This somewhat oppressive environment where you are never actually finished and never really get a break, often sends me into frustration, and then time wasting on Facebook, as I try to escape the reality of my life.
But when I was feeling so awful last week I found that one of the hardest things was that I could not do those things for my family.
My hands hurt so badly that showering, bathing the kids, dishes and cooking dinner were painful events. Midst it all, do you know what I wanted? I just wanted to be able to serve my family and care for them. More excruciating than my physical pain was the feeling that I was unable to do my job as a wife and mother.
The everyday things that we as mothers do for our families are not just mindless chores. They are often mocked, seldom enjoyed, and easily co-opted out to others. Without being ridiculously romantic about it all, these everyday acts of kindness and service are a blessing to have.
I would not have much laundry, dishes, or messes if I had no children. If we had another income, I could more easily pay somebody else to do these menial tasks. But dishes, diapers and the like are not just chores. The everyday is part of the joy of motherhood. They are the little things that build a happy stable home. Those moments of work together are all moments of teaching and small gestures of love.
I realized that rather than complain about and seek refuge from the household chores, I need to take a minute here and there just to find joy in my journey. The journey that I have been given is motherhood. It does involve noise and smell and mess and very little rest, but it also involves love and sacrifice and yes, joy.
Now, you might be wondering what on earth this has to do with birth. Maybe focusing on the bad instead of enjoying the ride is just part of the human condition- but I think we do not just do this with everyday tasks. We do it with birth.
Birth is a seldom experienced life changing event. More that that though, it is sacred. It is a moment to be close to the divine, the Creator, it is the closest we will get in our brief lifetime to actually creating life. It is a moment close to both life and death, a passageway for a little soul to enter.
How often to we focus on this though? How often do we see the beauty and joy of the entire event? Instead the focus is so often on the PAIN the struggle and the difficulty. When we do this we don't just miss out on the joy of the journey of labor and birth. We treat a transformative event as a chore that just needs to be finished as soon as possible. We make something that is given to us as sacred into something that is feared.
One of the first things we can do as men and women to change childbirth in this country is to simply change our perception of it. We must look at it as a joyous part of our life's journey rather than a painful necessity.