I’ve written my entire birth story with both joel and miles so those following along know how I feel about pushing during childbirth. not good. the best way I could describe it to greg who asked with a morbid curiosity what it felt like to push something that large out of some small nook in your body, is that it’s the epitome of being caught between a rock and a hard place. there’s just no direction to go in to escape. think of every painful situation you’ve ever avoided in your life that you’ve managed to elude in some way or another and having to finally face all of them head on, no escape. there is simply nothing to do to escape the pain. pushing hurts. not pushing hurts. the baby has got to come out. there’s no going back now. get the picture?
in many ways, pushing is just the physical equivalent of the essence of parenthood. you think it’s over once the baby has crowned and then their shoulders rush out along with the rest of their body? oh, it’s only just beginning. you think you’ve made it past the “hard part”? well, it’s only just the beginning of a lifetime of such anguish.
(as a side note: I think there is this mythical idea among new parents that there is a definite “hard part” and that once you make it past this phase, everything will be downhill from there. well, as with marriage, I’ve been a parent long enough to know that this is simply a mirage on the horizon and that once you reach the point in the road where it looked like there was an oasis of cool water, there’s just miles and miles more of hot asphalt. I see it with my neighbor, the new parent I’ve written about in earlier posts who still has just one baby under one. I see it in her eyes, a certain brand of desperation as she says things like, “yeah, but your kids are older…this or that is easier.” I try to tell her the truth. nothing gets easier. if anything, they just get harder and harder. different, but not easy. if anything changes it’s merely the capacity we have as parents to deal with utter chaos and confusion as a way of life. she doesn’t listen, though, and holds fast to the notion that there will one day be some magical awakening in her life when things will suddenly become “easy”. it’s ok. everyone has to go through their own realization in their own time. she’ll get there)
pushing is just the first time that, no matter what, it’s a lose-lose situation for us as parents. like when ruth has that outraged gleam of utter human dissatisfaction in her eye and I know if I give her what she’s asking for, she’s going to rebel. if I don’t, she’s going to rebel. there is just nothing to do but face the wave of fury head on and let it wash over me, drenching me in her tears and outpouring of wrath and misery and loud furious voice sounds.
there’s so many more instances like this in everyday life. before I had kids, I didn’t realize that kids were people, I think. I thought they were simple like pets that only wanted to please me and be trained, happy to be taken out for a walk when I felt the urge to go, stopping at every corner for their pat on the head. I didn’t realize that what I was actually signing up for was accompanying another person on their journey from single-celled parasitic organism through years of physical and mental and emotional development with all of its mess and cumbersome and dizzying collisions with myself and the world as they felt their way through it, fingers probing every crevice they came across, yelling to see what they could do with their voices, running just to feel the pavement rush up at them and tear their new skin when they would fall, building castles up and knocking them down to hear the incredible cacophony of destruction, to feel the power of creation and demolition in their own hands, exalting and raging every day until their exhaustion would overtake them and they would collapse into a peaceful angelic heap of smooth and wrinkle-less faces, relaxed eyelids and mouths agape, exhaling the dew of the dawn of a human life.