Wednesday, August 3, 2011

we women

My friend Betsy is great about posing questions to me about Scripture and Christian culture.  Lately, she sent me an email saying, essentially, "What do you think about all that stuff Paul said about women not being in charge?  And there being categorical differences between men and women beyond biology?"

I had to think long and hard about my response.

I used to be really incensed by Paul's attitude, and a more general stance in Christianity, that women and men had different capabilities, and that women needed to submit to men.  I still totally disagree with the last part about submission, but being pregnant and having a small child has changed me.  Struggling through the fact that, despite modern advances in medicine, carrying and delivering a child is something that can kill you.  And then, the continual weight you feel in being solely responsible for the feeding of a tiny being who could conceivably die if you don't do it right.  These things tend to change a person.  I am no exception.

I was always one who had more guy friends than girl friends.  For some reason, I've always been drawn to the company of men.  I like the way that they joke, they don't fuss at each other, and the way that plans seem to come together more effortlessly than with a group of women.  I have always struggled to find a good group of girlfriends (one of the reasons I joined a sorority - one of my favorite surprise game-changers in conversation with people!).

So, when I found out I was pregnant, there was so much I wanted to talk about . . . and guys just aren't the right audience.  No one was rude, or told me I was gross, but there was just a mismatch in the conversation.  After all, no men had any experience they could offer me firsthand.  And as things progressed, I needed women even more.  As I was scared about the complications at the end of my pregnancy, made it through the travails of labor, and went through some dark times in establishing good growth for my breastfed baby, I mostly just felt like I needed my mom.

But that wasn't possible, because she had died six years earlier.  So, enter this woman:

This is my sister, Nelle (on the right.  That's your truly on the left).  She is seven and a half years older than me, and has a son who is almost four.  She also had a baby on January 1 (the first baby born at their hospital in the new year . . . she got so much free stuff), so we were able to compare notes.  We talk and text daily, and she has coached me through this whole motherhood thing with ease and grace.  She's also a registered nurse, so she has medical expertise to add to sisterly caring.  I could not have made it to this point with any sanity if she wasn't around.

And enter these women:

This is our Bradley birth class - after we'd all been through the marathon we trained for together!  Amber, our teacher, is on the far right.  Amber truly became more than a teacher to me.  She was there to address all my crazy questions and fears no matter what time of night.  She offered continually to come to my home and help me work through plans for labor.  She is someone who is deeply invested in making sure women know the power they have in bringing children into the world.  And the other women in our group have become such a great support for me.  With the addition of other members with young babies from La Leche League, neighborhoods, and friends of friends, we have a fantastic playgroup that meets weekly for advice, sharing, and just being there for one another.  My baby is the youngest of the group, so I get lots of hand-me-down clothes, as well as a good dose of "it's going to be okay my baby went through that phase too."

So, although Mom isn't here with me now, I know that her spirit comes to me in these other women.  And my mind has changed a little bit about Paul.  Women truly do experience things that men can never know.  It doesn't make us worse or better, but it makes us need one another.

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