Birthing’s are almost always associated with having a child, but they are not always defined by the generative process
There are thousands of ways we “give birth” in our lives, such as birthing an idea, new artwork or plans for something novel in our lives. I have experienced many different birthing’s of myself over my lifetime. Some more painful than others. Some bearing more fruit or a fuller and much healthier result. Other birthing’s were wrought with much loss like divorce and the death of family and friends. Some were lower on the pain scale like when changing jobs or schools. Many others were very simple, quick and over without a pause between the before and after. Several birthing’s took a lot of planning, editing out some fluff and whittling down the initial expansive idea to a more workable and achievable reality.
We are constantly birthing and re-birthing ourselves throughout our lives as we learn new perspectives, travel and our experiences increase. In Composing a Life, by Mary Catherine Bateson, she explores the lives of several woman who were very successful in their careers’ but later in life they changed their professional direction. All of these women gave birth to completely new careers’ requiring them to re-define themselves as women, mothers and partners.
After several years of growing and nurturing the concept of Airmid, the labor ended, and she was birthed. Airmid is now in the world, conceived of all the dreams, ideas and hopes for her presence in the world. My partners’ and I held hands as we stood on the precipice of change. We each left full-time jobs with paid vacation and health plans, to bring forth this labor of love and passion. As we stood there, silent, hands clasped together, and our eyes speaking a mutual fear and joy, we jumped off the cliff and into a new unknown.
We birthed and rebirthed Airmid daily, nurturing her to her full potential as a mother does her child. Those daily birthing’s, although, laborious, almost go unnoticed as do many of the smaller birthing’s everyone experiences from day to day. Today I invite you to remember, and in remembering, to honor, all the birthing’s you have had in your life. There are the birthing’s after a loss and the ones meticulously planned for, but none the less they are birthing’s.
Writing Prompt #1
Make a list of all your birthing’s, in chronological order or in thematic order (i.e. family, work, relationships) or in the order in which they occur to you now.
Choose one of the items identified on your list and write about that.
Continue to move through your list and write about each of the birthing’s you identified,
Write about birthing your dreams, a new business or relationship.
Think about times in your life that you may have changed directions professionally, academically, socially or creatively. Often one birthing can lead to many others like where you go to college could lead to where you work and start a family.
Write about leaving an old identity and venturing into a new one.
Birthings —- leaving an old identity and birthing a new one….
I’ve done this many times in my life, it’s rather a family trait. Well at least with that of the previous generation. My father had more “birthings” in his work life than I or my brother are able to recall. Once I tried to count how many jobs my father had, I came up with 42 and I don’t know that I knew them all.
My birthings, changes, transformations are not near as many, but I have had many working identities, and many personal ones, in a manner of speaking as well. Personally, they move from girl, young woman, mother, wife, divorcee, to middle age woman, to an elder. But it is my working or professional life I focus on today because I’m on the verge of leaving one identity and birthing a new one.
I’ve had many jobs in my life and many aspirational hopes for a “career” in my life. Mostly none of them worked out the way I thought they would. In fact, at the many waylays in my life, it troubled me that my plans did not work out as I had hoped. I’ve been a waitress, yes the old name, because it’s what I was at the age of 15. I’ve been a retailer selling shoes, a silver jewelry maker, a teacher, a movie theatre manager, a cook, a pastry chef, an apartment manager, a realtor, a pharmacy technician, a restaurant manager, and a community development manager for a nonprofit.
And it is here that I pick up my story. Today is my last day as a community development manager for a nonprofit that provides incredible services for young children and their families. These services also support caregivers of young children, provide much needed services for children with disabilities, literacy programming for children and families, professional development for early childhood educators and early childhood mental health providers, and more. Yes, it’s true, an encompassing organization that focuses on early childhood development, over 40 programs that contribute to this goal.
My role at this nonprofit was to go out to the community and sing the praises of the dedicated professionals that provided the direct service. It was my job to understand the work of my colleagues, know how they did the work well enough to talk about it, be aware of how effective these professionals were in the work they performed — how successful and impactful the work truly is. I met people all over the state of Arizona because our programs were statewide. I presented and talked with and met with and collaborated with a myriad of wonderful people who all want what’s best for young children and their families in order to build and support a healthy community.
It is good work and I’m proud and content with what I have done. Oh, sure there were ups and downs and sometimes the work was downright exhausting and menial. Lugging brochures and flyers and magnets all over the state is not that exciting, but I can look back and know that I did something good, really good. I did something that made a difference and helped children and those who care for them. I’m satisfied with the last 9 years of my life.
And today I turn in my computer and my agency ID, I say goodbye to some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known and realize how much I’ve learned about early childhood. I appreciate the importance of attending to the first five years of a child’s life and will carry that with me no matter where I go. I will hold wonderful memories close to my heart of all the colleagues I leave behind….
For this is not only my last day at a job, it is my last day of official work… today I retire!
Retire …. I never thought I’d be doing this, I couldn’t see it coming, I couldn’t figure out how I could ever make it happen and yet here I am ready to embark on a new me!!!
Leaving one identity and seeking out and birthing another, one not attached to a job, career, or profession… but attached to ME. And only me. Wow, wow, when someone asks what do you do I no longer will answer with I work at a nonprofit or I’m a teacher or I’m a restauranteur. I have the opportunity to say, well I’m not sure yet what I’ll say… this is what this birthing is about… to uncover and reveal who that ME is….
To do things I’ve dreamt of doing if only I didn’t have to go to work.
It’s the opportunity to learn new things, try new things and dig back into old things I haven’t had time for… In all honesty I haven’t had much time to think about this! I’ve been consumed with selling a house and packing up and cleaning up and finishing up and filling out forms and signing up and looking for a new place to live. So many things that were right in front of me, I’ve had little time to see the ME that’s emerging.
But today is my last day of a “real” job, a good job, a meaningful job, but what tomorrow brings sounds exciting and completely new, an experience I have no prior knowledge of, wow that’s weird to say… Isn’t that what birth is? – entering a newness, which of course is an unknown. From here this unknown looks calm and refreshing and all mine!