Ignore the Exit Signs:
Stepping In To Our Power
For most of my pregnancy I shielded myself from the fear-based beliefs of the American medical system. Ten months of ignoring the push for planned C-sections and painkillers - practices that have gone from need-based to normal: these methods of numbing and control that have become the hallmark of a western birth. Ten months of saying "no" to images of women screaming bloody murder, begging someone - anyone - to save them from the fullness of their own experience.
As women, we are born with this innate capacity to birth - the female drive defined by an urge to nurture - to love - to stay determined for the sake of life's protection. This is a gift we have been told is solely for the sake of procreation. I reference my birth story because that is my experience. But really, our capacity as women to birth - this gift - is about far more than offspring. The drive to nurture, to love, to see something into being, affects everything from art to politics to social change. This gift we have is powerful beyond measure.
The exit strategies offered to me during my labor are similar to the exit strategies offered to women throughout their lives. The media will offer you an exit out of your own body - telling you that thin is beautiful. As a woman, you may waste your entire life wanting that - leaving the domain of your own truth for the sake of the insignificant. Society - it will tell you that your sex is for sale - offering you a way out of your wild creativity - telling you that your sensuality, is needy and that your grace and your dignity - that they are somehow proportionate to your silence. There are all sorts of exits we women are given - all sorts of ways we have been asked to step out of the fullness of who we really are.
When we embody our womanliness we are not martyrs. When we step into our mother self, we take responsibility for birthing and nurturing our power into full expression. Mothering is not about children, it is about our ideas and our passions. It is about our intuition and our bodies. There is an intrinsic relationship between feminine consciousness and the creative impulse. When we step into mothering, step into that creative impulse, we are capable of changing the world.
There are two ways to approach change - we can focus on transformation or we can stagnate in resistance. Sometimes we do both in any given moment. Wanting something better for ourselves and our communities, yet paralyzed by fear and distracted by the exit signs.
Towards the end of my labor, just before my daughter came out, I had this moment where I asked myself, "How the hell am I going to do this?" I then uttered something to the effect of, "Women have been doing this for centuries." I called upon all of my ancestors - my sisters, aunties and grandmothers. I called upon all of the women in my life who I had asked to lite a candle that morning. This was the most powerful part of my labor. The moment the room lit up and the first moment I cried. It was the moment power and surrender collided and I found my voice as a birthing woman.
A woman's voice is only found in the presence of open ears. When we women offer our ears to one another, when we listen to one another's experiences, we allow one another sing the song of what we are here to create.
Competition is the woman's most tragic exit strategy. We are having a collective experience here and there is no faster way out of our own evolution than to isolate one another. Great mothers - they do not compete. They cannot. They realize that it takes a whole damn village to raise anything of great worth.
Here is to all you mothers - to the birthing of whatever it is inside of you that is yearning to express itself. Step into that creative impulse. Call up that propensity to nurture. Love fiercely. And ignore the exit signs.
Elizabeth Solomon is a Northampton-based mother, writer and entrepreneur. Elizabeth has a background in psychology, organizational dynamics, and journalism. She has travelled extensively, using worldly exploration as a way of broadening her understanding of culture and politics. Elizabeth credits her mother for providing her with a good dose of 80's feminism and limited access to cartoon characters like Smurfette. Elizabeth is currently working on a new project called Soul of A Mother - an exploration of how women balance their wild creative selves with taking on the day-to-day role of caretaker.