It occurred to me today (which happens to be one of my offspring’s birthdays) that activist work is a lot like giving birth.
We want to get to the good part of holding the result of our hard work, but to get there with the least effort & quickest healing, we need to time our pushes mindfully.
The labor involved cannot be rushed, and it often feels uncomfortably (even painfully) unproductive, but if we breathe through it and work with the transitions while following the advice of those who understand the process, our chances of the outcome we want are really good. This feels very similar to my experiences in various activism roles over the decades.
To be clear on my perspective regarding childbirth, I have had midwifery care in all five of my births – which for me means I have never birthed with directed pushing. That may be needed clarity for others who have very different birth schemas. I am well aware of “directed pushing” (i.e. some hospital staff person verbally telling the laboring person to push) being the American norm for non-surgical births, and that actually can extend this metaphor even more. If you are trying to do activism & someone is telling you to push when you don’t feel ready to, even if that person is an expert, my recommendation is to not push until you feel ready. If you feel ready and an expert is telling you “no, it isn’t quite the right time yet,” it is worth listening to that advice because full-on pushing before full dilation in birth is a recipe for wasted effort and potential progress derailment – not going into more explicit details to avoid turning off the squeamish who don’t need to know.
This post is an edited version of something I posted on Facebook, which a friend asked that I make sharable. I’ve tidied the grammar a bit. I’m easily findable on Facebook, but I generally only accept friend requests from people I actually know/have a personal relationship of some form to, & potentially collaborate with, so please don’t send me a friend request out of the blue without a message indicating who you are and why I should include you in my network. Contacting me through there or Twitter is okay with me but response times will vary depending on what else I’ve got going on, particularly if you’re not already someone I am already connected to.