Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Words and Birth

I was the late-blooming Jewish girl with pigtails and crooked teeth, at sea amongst the Aryan cheerleaders, hormonal giants and cowboys. Back then we had real cowboys, not just dress-ups. I bloomed suddenly, and became the craziest, most radical cowgirl in the west. But not before I learned a few things. One of these was, never use a word with more than two syllables if you want to be accepted.

I continued to write longer words in my diaries - I have a fine assortment of them now, dating back to 1966. My diary did not judge me, and I could be as magnificently cantankerous as I wanted.

What joy when I finally decided to go to university, several years later. I met people who spoke with many syllables, and occasionally used words I didn't even understand! We wrangled about concepts that were beyond belief, wrote terrible poetry, and thought we were the vanguard.

How much of schooling is simply imposing? King Julian suggests it may be fun to "impose my ideology on them - even if they don't want it." How many unspoken and unheard beliefs and opinions have flooded my mind and the minds of my children, just from being in school? I'm not suggesting home schooling is any better - I never thought that I could provide absolutely everything for my children. I sent all my children to school, and school itself was mostly a dismal failure. But I have five completely different and magnificently cantankerous sons, who like to use many words in many languages. So their difficult birthing and difficult schooling didn't destroy their characters at all.

I digress.

Of course, that is part of being alive, being affected by our surroundings and affecting others. At what point does this process become dangerous, when does it start inflicting wounds that cannot be healed? Do we ever truly understand how sensitive most human beings are? How absorbent children's minds are? How fragile a developing character?

During the birth of a child, this fragility is beautiful - a woman is at her most vulnerable and her strongest. At this time, more than ever, it is very important for the attendants to watch what they say and how they say it. Th doula can act as a filter for rough language, and she can heal hurtful words if they are spoken. The birthing woman is well equipped with filters of her own - lost in the absorbing task of giving birth, she will sometimes not hear what anyone has to say. But if she has been pulled out of her task, she may hear and absorb some though that will plague her forever.

Words are powerful! Use them well!

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