The Case for Home Birth

by Anne Mason

Two hours after our daughter’s birth.

Both my kids were born at home. People have often remarked on the courage I must have had to have made that choice. It wasn’t courage––it was a desire for a comfortable, supportive birth environment I knew was the best bet for my kids and me to avoid unnecessary trauma and intervention. There are times when medical intervention is necessary, but most of the time, the medical system itself and its medicalized birth practices create the issues which lead to intervention in the first place.

Our bodies are designed to give birth. Fit, healthy women in most cases should be able to deliver their babies naturally––if only they are allowed to. I was 37 years old with my first pregnancy and 40 with my second. My husband and I eschewed all the tests and screenings recommended for “a woman my age,” as we were committed to bringing our children into the world, regardless of what abnormalities or issues such screenings might suggest. And we were blessed with two wonderfully healthy children born without complication or intervention.

I remember being questioned about our choice to birth at home when I was pregnant with our eldest. Well-intended friends pointed to historical maternal and infant mortality rates as an argument for hospital birth. A closer look at the history, however, largely implicates hospitals and doctors in the staggeringly high maternal mortality rates from puerperal fever in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries––in which it was common practice for the medical profession to examine pregnant women and deliver babies after performing autopsies, WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS. As Suzanne Humphries, MD and Roman Bystrianyk emphasize in their landmark book “Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,” puerperal fever’s massive maternal death toll profoundly impacted the fabric of society. It is no wonder this tragic and largely avoidable episode in recent human history influences our fears surrounding childbirth.

Poverty, lack of sanitation, lack of nutrition and poor standard of living during that time period also contributed to overall mortality rates, life expectancy and birth outcomes. When determining the risks of childbirth in this day and age in the US and other developed nations, it’s critical to examine our history and whether those risk factors still apply. Further, it is paramount that we look at the actual statistics involving home birth here in the US. Among low-risk women, planned home births result in low rates of interventions without an increase in adverse outcomes for mothers and babies.

It is becoming common knowledge that the US medicalized birth practices are a factor in the United States’ increasing maternal mortality rates. The only developed country with an increase, the US maternal mortality rate has more than doubled from 1991 to 2014. Earlier this year, Harvard Business Review cited these statistics and more in its piece The Rising U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate Demands Action from Employers and advocated for non-hospital birth options for low-risk pregnancies.

Furthermore, the medical system in the US is the cause of so many deaths that researchers from Johns Hopkins wrote an open letter to the CDC to request that CDC change its record collection criteria to accurately inform the public of this alarming statistic. With medical errors being the 3rd leading cause of death in our country, the hospital hardly seems a sensible environment for a healthy expectant mother to deliver her healthy baby into. On the contrary, the mother and baby would seem at less risk of fatal complications in the safety of their own home, attended to by trained midwives.

Beyond the health and safety of the mother and child, there are many more reasons to deliver at home. In the privacy of her own home, the mother is allowed to labor at her own pace. She can labor in the comfort and quiet of her own bedroom, bathtub or birth tub. While her midwives monitor her and the baby’s vitals throughout, they are unobtrusive and respectful, and they accommodate her timing, not theirs. She is not surrounded by or attached to any machines and monitors, and she is able to move her body freely.

Without intervention or epidural, labor proceeds naturally, as baby and mother coordinate their rhythm and contractions to bring the birth. The midwives do not pressure the mother to take Pitocin to induce labor. She is allowed to proceed as her body and her baby’s body dictates.

Family members or chosen friends are the only other people in the home, quietly and respectfully on-hand to support the laboring mother and whatever she may need at the time. A hushed reverence pervades the scene. And when the baby arrives, he or she is welcomed into the quiet, warm room, surrounded only by loving family, friends and trusted midwives the mother has gotten to know well over the course of her pregnancy.

Newborn baby and mother remain together in the comfort of their bed, while over the next couple of hours the midwives gently monitor, record birth stats and care for the mother (one of my midwives even brought me a plate of scrambled eggs after the birth of our daughter, as she felt I needed the protein). Once they determine all is well, they pack up their oxygen and equipment, hug the new mother, kiss the new baby and go home, only to return the next day and beyond to continue post-partum monitoring and care.

Mother and baby, big brother and father fall asleep in the comfort of their own beds. What a lovely way to welcome this new member of the family. And what a lovely way to come into the world.

Featured post

Purpose and Children’s Chores

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

When children are responsible for essential family chores and necessary home and yard maintenance, they maintain a critical focus on their contribution and significance to the whole––and a general sense of purpose which is a necessary antidote to feelings of angst and depression.

Sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason examine and discuss.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Hello, Thea.

Thea:                                         00:04                       Hello, Anne.

Anne:                                         00:06                       So today, let’s talk about being purposeful. It follows a little bit on our last conversation about even what makes us feel attractive or what makes us attracted to someone else. And purposefulness was a large part of that. And it also relates to a lot of other things we’ve been observing through our work and experience in life, parenting. We’ve been observing an alarming rate of depression and anxiety, lack of focus in children, in extraordinarily young children who you wouldn’t be expecting that of quite yet––in those typical like angsty teenage years. When children much younger than that are demonstrating symptoms and signs of depression, we need to explore that and address that in a way that we haven’t been doing obviously very successfully in this culture. Right? And you identified the lack, it seems, at least in the communities that we are surrounded by. Granted it’s coastal California. There’s a privilege of wealth in the areas that we live in. So I think that clouds or colors the landscape. But we’re noticing that children are not given, they’re not used to a lot of the similar day to day chores, meaningful, purposeful, necessary tasks that we grew up with. Right?

Thea:                                         02:10                       Right. And actually, and this might be a quick segue, but it’s something else that just popped into my head a little bit. Because as you were talking about that I was picturing our childhood, and while we had work, household work, I feel like, so a lot of our work actually was taken into sport quite young and a lot of our time was put there. And so that’s another coloring of this conversation, I think of the, the hijacking of meaningful work. Now that’s not me saying sport is bad, but there’s a lack of balance. And that ties into earlier conversations we’ve had where we talked about the difference of sport and play a little bit. And then when that play is hijacked right into sport, some other development doesn’t occur. And then the sport takes on a deeper meaning then truly it should have. And sense of self worth––as you were speaking about those stages of depression that come earlier and earlier and then when there’s a little bit more of that nuance of the angsty years where young people are learning how to deal with all of these senses of being, these powers and forces of becoming a young adult, when those don’t have a channel to be directed toward, they become self destructive and socially destructive forces, you know, in their circles of friends. And so that ties into, when there’s not the sense of meaningful capable purpose and work and the capacity to meet those things, we get depressed. People get depressed, and they can become ugly and lash out at others when they’re feeling small themselves. Right?

Anne:                                         04:11                       Yeah. You’re sparking some thoughts in me, ’cause we hadn’t even talked about this in tying in the sports, but it hadn’t even occurred to me. Yes. You know, I’m always saying, “Oh, back in our day, back in our day when I had to wash the dishes every day and clean up or shovel the snow or mow the lawn” or all of those things that I don’t see a lot of kids doing these days––we also though, what I should say for anyone viewing is that, we were a big tennis family, so we all played tennis. It was a bit fanatical. We attribute our parents’ divorce to tennis. And it became our job. And I, and I’m now kind of remembering, I’m thinking back to the fact that, so our father, a second generation immigrant––athletics and sports was very important to them. I think because of the discipline that it practiced, and obviously, there’s a joy and a pleasure in aspiring and honing that excellence that was manifest––like our uncle who was drafted by the Bulls. Right? But they had a balance back then. They certainly didn’t live in this age of technology and hyper developed world and structure, which scheduled kids almost every minute of their day. So that, that sport and that discipline and that activity, that was a respite from some of the chores and hardships, necessary hardships of everyday life. Right? And so then they––our baby boomer parents––brought that to our generation. “Sports! It’s toward scholarships. It develops, you know, rounds you out, keeps you fit. Good values, psychological discipline and all.” Which I admit it gave me, I think it helped me with. And opened up opportunities for me. But that was even too emphasized probably back then, you know, amidst also all of the dance classes and music lessons and voice lessons and, tutoring and school and….And, and, and, and.

Anne:                                         07:10                       And I remember now that I think about it feeling––I mean it kind of cultivates a bit of a narcissism too. It’s just, sure, Oh, you know, yes, lifting our children up is something we want to do but not in such an extreme way which puts all the focus of the family on them and how well they do in their match. Pulling me out of school for tennis lessons. Or I remember I am sure you remember well, yeah, I can say this now, I remember getting into a car accident and I won’t give all the details, but it was a really not a great situation for many reasons, but it was right in the middle of an important tournament, which I was doing well in and I didn’t really have any concern that there would be a problem about it because that was paramount. I was doing well in the tennis tournament and all that other stuff got it washed away. So I really just digressed there, but it does make me realize that it’s not just our generation, it’s, it’s what’s built on the other generation from what they took from their generation. And it’s gotten distorted.

Thea:                                         08:40                       Completely. And it seems that, I mean, and maybe it’s just in the circles I’m living in, that there is, a slow, steady waking up to the lack of balance in that scenario. That this idea, “That’s how my kid’s going to go to college,” is, you know, maybe that works for some people that they start this sport, they pursue it, they get a scholarship. Maybe those children actually continue playing or participating in whatever that sport is. More often than not, those children are burnt out by age 14. Right when it would be a good time for them to be picking up that sport, because they started so young. And then they quit, and that’s the moment they need that channel and that focus to hone. But people are realizing it’s not so successful. I mean college, that’s a whole other conversation about the distortion of all of that and…

Anne:                                         09:44                       Of the importance, the importance of college now, or the relevance of college in this rapidly changing world, given how much it costs, it’s no longer the answer, right? To the predictable paths of adulthood and profession.

Thea:                                         10:03                       Right. I mean because young people come into the world with $50,000 of debt. Or more.

Anne:                                         10:08                       50? 200! Yeah, exactly. So yes, I agree. And you in your Waldorf circle are more in touch with a lot of folks that are aware of that. And, so shifting course, reversing course, embracing a new course that hopefully rounds that impulse in our world out. And me having come to Waldorf as well, as a homeschooler, differently I recognize that too, recognize that more given my own experience. I mean, I was adamant about not letting my kid join sports teams or get involved in any outside, those types of extracurricular classes, whatever––structured, formalized organized sports, dance, all of that––too early because we did it so young that I burnt out by the time I really could have used it much more significantly at the time in my life, you know? So, yeah. You know, I mean it’s not just Waldorf education, it’s, it’s all of the alternative pedagogies. It’s also the increasing understanding and study into the importance of play in education. And how far we’ve gone away from that and how we’re trying to move back there slowly, slowly, slowly.

Thea:                                         11:55                       Well, how much is really happening when we play as children and, and how much is stolen from the development of the human being when those opportunities are lost, or robbed essentially of that time.

Anne:                                         12:11                       Yeah, short shortchanged, I guess.

Thea:                                         12:12                       So then, I don’t know if this is too much, but then ’cause what had inspired this conversation was really––so play is purposeful work at certain stages of the development of the child and the human being, really. And then and then we’re talking about what other purposeful work is there. And we do recognize we’re in one little bubble of a view into the world in coastal California. But you know, where we grew up, we did, we have to shovel the walk or shovel the driveway or whatever. You know, picking up sticks, I remember, just before mowing the lawn or whatever, all these things, which mowing the lawn, I didn’t go there, but raking leaves also. But––So what do these young people have today? And I was sharing that and it’s not quite formed yet still, so maybe something will get clearer––I feel like as a female, and maybe it’s simply because I am one––that there are still more tasks, household tasks that bring me a sense of real satisfaction. Because I, I enjoy the homemaking. I don’t see my sons enjoy homemaking quite as much as I do or even did as a young person.

Anne:                                         13:35                       Yeah, I have a girl and a boy. And the difference is so marked in terms of how they come to it or resist it. You know, so yes, go ahead.

Thea:                                         13:51                       So, so just thinking––and I know the way my life is, I don’t have opportunities for my kids. I’m not living on a farm, so I don’t have this like more physical work accessible to them. So it’s a real task as a parent in a place where I live to find this. And that’s what sport kind of gives an echo of, right? Of meaningful work in our culture. But outside of that, what work do they get to do that we can’t live without? What do they get to participate in that helps the family, that is essential, maybe, hopefully, kind of boring so that they have the time and space to develop a rich interior world.

Anne:                                         14:36                       Or not boring, but monotonous, perhaps. And you just made me realize city living is emasculating.

Thea:                                         14:54                       Totally! So that’s what we’re talking about today. Get to the country.

Anne:                                         15:00                       But there’s quite a push toward the city living and we could go down a lot of rabbit holes there. So what do we do? What’s, what is the prescription? Okay. I mean, let’s first identify the fact that we had also talked about this a little bit too, you know, as a homeschooler and someone actively involved in my homeschool group I recognize that boys earlier on are the ones who come to us and then the girls a bit later, because school is not really suited or designed for a boy.

Thea:                                         15:44                       The energy that is moving and coursing through the boy. And sometimes the girls. I was kind of one of those girls in a way too. Like needed to move a lot.

Anne:                                         15:54                       Yeah. You, you are. Right. Movement teacher and spacial dynamics person that you are––yoga and dance and…so yes, so school with its abstract, very sitting still, obedient––however way you cut it there’s an element of people pleasing obedience because of that framework of school, no matter how great the school is. It’s not that suited for boys. And increasingly with the, what? 20 minutes of recess and all of that, it’s so much less. So we need to recognize that. And in small steps individually, now, what we need to recognize is that for a boy to become a man, he needs to be able to do traditionally male things. And I don’t care who I offend saying that! I mean, there is a relevance to the traditional roles, or the traditional paths.

Thea:                                         17:05                       I mean, I think you could easily say the more masculine activities without it being offensive, because I know for me––and I get to watch at school, so at recess, which we have more than 20 minutes, all in all, we have like an hour, a day of recess. But that’s not the only movement our kids get. But I see, so let’s take third grade, fourth grade, second grade, the boys, they’re building, they’re finding wood and they’re building shelters. That’s their recess. Most often. The girls are now residing in the shelter, and they’re organizing it and they’re bringing little plants and making it lovely and sweet. And then the boys want to come in the house and the girls are like, “No, you mess it up.” And they’re like, “You can be the dog sleeping by the fire.” This is something that really happened and it’s, and it’s so perfect. “You Have too much energy. Unless you’re a resting, boy, you’re not in my house right now.”

Anne:                                         18:17                       Right! And she’s calling the shots. I mean, it’s certainly no diminishment of the female role in her realm, in our realm, right?

Thea:                                         18:25                       And there is a really natural acknowledgement. I mean, and there are some girls that are doing the building, not to say there aren’t, and I’m trying to think of any boys in the house. I can’t think of any right now, you know, currently. But, and I remember being that as, as a kid, even when we played in our, on our street, which wasn’t quite a neighborhood, but it was just a little more country and one of our sisters was much more into, “I’ll build this.” And I was definitely more in, “And I’ll make it pretty!” You know? “I’ll do that part.” So different needs in there to be satisfied.

Anne:                                         19:10                       Yeah. While I managed it. But anyway…

Thea:                                         19:14                       Precisely!

Anne:                                         19:18                       Or not. So, okay, so we’re at 20 minutes. We’ve identified some stuff. Let’s, let’s, let’s come up with a bit of a prescription for a couple of minutes.

Thea:                                         19:30                       I don’t know if this is a prescription, so my apologies again if it’s not that. But I think one of the other threads I just don’t want to forget was really the question of how is time spent? That portion of what makes things purposeful in our life. That is so out of balance. You know, our lives are out of balance and so what––it is! It’s prescription! Look at that. Boom! So it comes in as to these little moments that we get to choose. Do we make this work to survive meaningful? And do we get to put some of our creative forces towards that meaningful work? And that’s simply…food preparation. Do we buy prepackaged things or do we cook? Do we take the time to cook real food? Do we, you know self care products? Do we buy our oils for our face or our creams, or do we make them? And do our children get to be a part of those things––that we then take the time to make those things.

Anne:                                         20:35                       Okay. Absolutely. But what I’ll say is that doesn’t address the boys as much as I think we’d like to. So how about this? I was telling you that we––my husband mainly––chopped a huge tree down in our backyard. Right? And interestingly different people that we were talking about doing this before–– he was trying to get some advice or just discussing––couldn’t quite conceive that he wouldn’t hire that work out. Right? And he ended up doing it and he, it was a challenge. Because it’s a very big tree and it wasn’t too far from our house. And you know, it was like climbing, cutting a few branches here and there so he could still have a ladder to climb on, with the chainsaw, but didn’t want to use the chainsaw really that high up in case it slips. So using, you know, a manual saw. And then it ended with the family with the rope all pulling it down after he had gotten it short enough, it wasn’t going to ruin our house. “Timber!” Right? And then the kids helping chop, stack wood. Right? My daughter my son definitely, he thrived in that. Right? My daughter helped as well. But you know, we have different interests, you know, that that was I think more satisfying perhaps to, to my son. So what about just making conscious choices as, as ludicrously privileged as this sounds? So I, it’s grossing me out to even say this, but you know, things that we would normally hire someone else to do for us that we’ve never done before that do fall under that realm of like building and physical labor…

Thea:                                         22:33                       And fixing and taking apart and putting back together.

Anne:                                         22:36                       Fixing the toilet fixing the faucet. Painting the front door. The fence. Tom Sawyer. Huck Finn. What about making small conscious choices, even though it’s not as efficient, perhaps, maybe you can justify the money because of the time it’s going to save, you don’t have to manage your kid, all of that. Let’s start giving our kids more of those meaningful tasks to do. And see what happens and what comes from that. Yes?

Thea:                                         23:15                       That’s an idea. I mean, because we want to be able to help our children and help ourselves become more capable to meet what comes, whatever that is. So we need the opportunities to, to fail, you know, to, to practice the things that we’re doing. And build the muscles.

Anne:                                         23:35                       We also need to recognize, I mean, I, I’ve heard this argument before that, “Well, you know, the world is turning, you know, basically everyone’s becoming coders,” right? I mean, “the world’s all computerized, technology robotics. Why fight it you know, if you’re going to succeed, I mean, put your energies there.” Well, I don’t think that that is a healthy approach to helping children develop. I don’t think that we should reject that awareness of where the world is and exposure to that at the appropriate times and cultivating those skills. But if we just move in that direction only and put all of our efforts in that abstract video game, whatever, learning we are certainly very weakened. Another aspect of us is weakened. And if that whole framework isn’t there suddenly or wherever you go in the world or whatever, you know, your competence is greatly compromised. So let’s work toward, no matter where we think the world is going, still exercising all aspects of our human beingness––physical and mental, emotional and spiritual. So you know that, that’s the general prescription. Let’s determine to make this, continue this, the next one. Part two of it.

Thea:                                         25:14                       Yeah. There’s more avenues to go down. We’re just getting it started. So thanks for touching in. It’s just something that’s been on my mind, definitely lately. And looking around. So thanks.

Anne:                                         25:26                       Yep. You too.

Thea:                                         25:28                       Have a good one.

Anne:                                         25:29                       You too. Hold on and let me figure out how to press these buttons. Let’s see. Stop.

Featured post

The State of Things as We See It––Societal Fabric, Feminism, A New Direction

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

Following on an article I wrote a while back called Feminism Got it Wrong, my sister Thea Mason and I examine and discuss the roles of women and men, parenting, children, Feminism’s impact on the fabric of society––and family camping and playing games as prescriptions for necessary healing.


Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:00                       Alright. So,.

Thea:                                         00:00                       “Hey!”.

Anne:                                         00:01                       Thea and I, my sister Thea and I, Anne, are going to start an experiment and start recording our conversations that we would otherwise have anyway. We find that we have been seeking some understanding as we examine what’s going on in the culture. Thea is a teacher in the Waldorf school in, in, in the Wa, in the private Waldorf schools. And I’m a homeschooling. Uh. Waldorf inspired homeschooling mother. Uh, we both had different experiences in our lives, which have led us to this point and we come at things differently, but find a lot of common, uh, perceptions about, I think the problem…

Thea:                                         01:06                       State of things that we see.

Anne:                                         01:08                       Yeah. The state of things.

Thea:                                         01:10                       Fellow women in families… In what we observe in our little windows into the culture in the world.

Anne:                                         01:17                       Yeah. And into…and the children. Right. Who are coming up to, you know, take over. Right?

Thea:                                         01:26                       And very challenging times that they’re coming into.

Anne:                                         01:29                       Yeah! And the challenging times, uh, includes, uh, w w well, the, the, my own issues, my own lament is, is seeing children all around me…

Thea:                                         01:44                       Suffering?

Anne:                                         01:46                       Suffering, and, and, and parents flailing.

Thea:                                         01:50                       Parents are suffering, too.

Anne:                                         01:53                       And, and parents…Thea…Let’s establish this right now. I think Thea is more compassionate in the lens she brings to this and I, I am not, probably just as a person in general.

Thea:                                         02:06                       Well you’re the eldest and I’m the third of four daughters. So there are different roles. We’ve played our whole lives that we continue to work with. I would say.

Anne:                                         02:14                       Exactly. Exactly. So it’s nice that we have each other to balance it out.

Thea:                                         02:19                       It sure is.

Anne:                                         02:19                       And, and so, you know, just just to, to bring it down to kind of more practical, material, uh, language. You know, children are medicated, uh, to high heaven. Parents are medicated. Children are addicted to video games. Social media. Children are diagnosed with every disorder under the sun.

Thea:                                         02:47                       And diseases.

Anne:                                         02:49                       And diseases. And women and men, mothers and fathers seem to be at a loss. I see… I live in..I live in a pretty wealthy county as, as do you in, in California. And I see people spending a load of money and giving that money to experts to help them figure out what’s going on with their kid and to help them get their kids back on track.

Thea:                                         03:26                       I would say also in here, just in terms of that picture of parents struggling…suffering…there is a sense that they are disempowered to be the masters of their family, to be the shepherds of their children. And um, I think one of the things that we synthesized out of our last discussion that we shared––which we wanted to share but was so vast and varied that we’re working to bring it a little bit more to the point––is, you know, we hear a lot of this notion through the feminist movement and really through, I would say all movements of people right now, is this idea of being empowered. Empowered to choose your life, to choose your path, for your children to choose their path. And…I don’t know if I’m jumping the gun here, but this idea of: what does that mean? What does it mean to be empowered? Because what you’re laying out is this picture of a lot of people who are not empowered, a lot of people who are at the whim of the current science, at the whim of the current trends and disorders. And how do you function with your children or yourself when you’re not really in charge? I don’t know.

Anne:                                         04:52                       Absolutely. And to kind of circle back to even how we got to this. You know, I wrote an article a couple of years ago or whatever, or a year ago, whatever, where I said feminism got it wrong. Because I had begun becoming very disenchanted with, uh, with, with this movement that is…It was around the time of the, the pussy hats and the march and, and I felt like it was misguided. I felt that it was, uh, yeah, I felt it was misguided. And, and I started, you know, thinking a lot about, and, uh, reading a lot about…reflecting on my own experience in, in college, in, in taking women’s studies courses, learning about feminism and, you know, reflecting on the fact that I, I think that it’s, there’s an overemphasis on women outside the home, women as individuals where I, as I had identified in that article, I had identified that, you know, first and foremost, I think women’s role is to be mothers. I mean, otherwise humanity doesn’t keep going. Right? That’s, that’s our main, that’s the main thing. It doesn’t mean that needs to be a mother. Right? And not everyone will be. And we all bring in a different aspect of mothering, uh, and, and the female to mothering society, whether or not we are actually giving birth to children. But by and large, that is our role. And, and, and I to had also, uh, articulated that I believe women, women are the stewards of humanity. Since we are the mothers and we are the primary guides, uh––not to take away from the critical and equal significance of the father––but we are the nurturers. We bring in, uh, or, or rather, let’s just say together we bring in the life, we bring in the children and, but, but we deliver them into the world. And from the early, their early ages, we prepare them, we care for them. We, we transition them into the earth, into this earthly realm.

Thea:                                         07:51                       Earthly existence…and what do we do here with them, and how do they become? And how do they harness the power to meet the tasks? Of life. Right?

Anne:                                         08:02                       Yes.

Thea:                                         08:04                       Something you said, what did it just trigger? Darn it. Women…

Anne:                                         08:14                       Well, well, I, had also said, you know, pointed out that, you know, of, of equal incredible, monumental significance is the role of the father.

Thea:                                         08:26                       Right.

Anne:                                         08:27                       And we as mothers have experienced, uh, what becomes obvious to parents, which is that the early years that the child requires that nurture. As the child gets older, it requires much more of the father’s kind of, you know,.

Thea:                                         08:47                       role. And dynamic.

Anne:                                         08:48                       You know, the father brings the worldly in, right? And brings the worldly regard for that child as the child starts to be…to separate from the mother and to find his own, his or her own individuality. So, all right. So I’ll, I’ll stop there and return to what you were talking about, which is…

Thea:                                         09:11                       So let me, let me interrupt real quick. So in talking about, you did mention what you had written a few years ago about feminism got It wrong. And I think one of the main points that you had made in that well-written article was that there’s been a devaluing of the work of the mother and that, that I think is where, if I’m not incorrect, that’s like the point, the main point of how feminism got it wrong. Because that, and I’ve spoken about this with you in terms of me as a mother and the provider, it’s like how did that, what did I gain? What did I gain by being able to do all of that, you know, and, and having to spread myself so thin because I would love to be the homemaker, the mother, to work in the domain… I like that work. And I know not everyone does. So it’s, so that’s in terms of what did feminism get wrong? What did we really gain? You know, that now we’re expected to, even in two parent homes, you’ve got fathers and mothers both working outside the home. And you know, anyone that knows about cooking real food, that’s like a full time job just to maintain feeding a family. I mean, that takes thinking, planning, prepping. So it’s like we’ve been robbed of all these faces to process and nurture because of time, right? So, so then, so then through that devaluing of motherhood and fatherhood essentially, I mean, they’re both, you know, they both are. And now they’re really mixed up and there’s a lack of clarity and, uh, help me out here because from that, that devaluing, we are less empowered to be who we are and to do the work we’re here to do. Is what I’ve been sitting with and thinking about.

Anne:                                         11:21                       Yes, yes, yes. Uh, so in a way it’s like, so if the feminist movement, originally was born out of an impulse to shine light on the the value of the woman to society, what, what seems to have happened instead is it has discarded a critical core spirit of what a woman is and what a woman can bring to the world

Thea:                                         12:08                       And what a woman does differently than a man, and what a man does differently than a woman. And feminism has been all about, “women can do what men do.” I personally don’t care to do that. Right? Like there are moments that women take the lead or are in charge. And both of us are pretty strong willed, fiery women, but I don’t see the world in the way a man does. I don’t look at things in the same way. So why are women trying to function like men?

Anne:                                         12:40                       Right. Right. Um, I mean, I, I think I, I articulated this in the article too, but just you know, I, uh, that occurred to me a long, long time ago that this, this, you know, this striving to, uh, compete in a man’s world just by its very nature implies that the woman’s world is…

Thea:                                         13:10                       Isn’t valuable.

Anne:                                         13:10                       Less important. Right So that first part is what I feel got got screwed up. Um, I also, I had mentioned this before, but I had seen Ann Coulter’s, an interview with Ann Coulter where she, she said something that kind of startled me into an awareness that the suffragette movement may not have even gotten it right.

Thea:                                         13:41                       Right.

Anne:                                         13:42                       Again, I understand. Because, because possibilities for women, were limited for one reason or another. I don’t know. I don’t know why that happened. Um, because let’s, let’s, let’s be real here. I mean, women have sex, right? I mean, and men want to have sex, right? So I don’t understand. You know, there is a power in that. And speaking of…pause for one second, hold on. Yeah, exactly right. Well, all right, I guess I may not even go there.

Thea:                                         14:33                       Right. That’s okay.

Anne:                                         14:34                       But basically, you know, women and men need each other, right? Men have certain needs and women have certain needs, and there is an arrangement there. Marriage is the arrangement that is made. Women give men what they need, which is sex, um, nurturing love. Uh, they can, they can keep the home, they can, uh, advise and,.

Thea:                                         15:00                       You’re frozen.

Anne:                                         15:00                       Okay, so are you, we’ll wait until it’s not. You there? Oh, it says Theodora Mason, by the way.

Thea:                                         15:15                       It does. It was frozen for a minute.

Anne:                                         15:06                       I know. I stopped. I just stopped. So you were too. Okay. So, yes. So I don’t understand how it went wrong. I don’t understand how men, uh, abused their…

Thea:                                         15:12                       Their role.

Anne:                                         15:14                      Yeah. And so because they did, women had to do something, uh, to right it. And it doesn’t feel as if it has gotten righted because it feels as if they’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water.

Thea:                                         15:37                       I would agree. And it seems, though, what we did also touch in on a little bit is that there is sometimes when, when there’s an impulse, it’s needed. To stretch the fabric, a little bit, of how we function and, and are in the world. And without the stretching and walking out the door and looking around at the world, the view stays so small if it’s locked in. So in terms of how… It’s like it had an impulse and it’s now gone astray. It’s sort of lost, its, uh, its place of being. And, and now it’s about how can it take what it’s learned through this journey and bring more intelligence and true empowerment to the roles in which women inhabit, whatever those are––you know, main ones being mothering, motherhood, family and caring for our young. Because we can see in our country at least there is a deep issue and imbalance in the way young people are growing up. So how do we take that learning and what do we do with that?

Anne:                                         16:53                       Well, let’s, can we, can we, uh, touch on briefly––what is the learning, what is the learning been? What have we gained through this experiment of feminism and what have we gained from, uh, giving women, uh, ample opportunity to step outside their traditional roles in the home and get out into the world, the workforce and the world, politics, government. All that. What have they, what have they gained? You know, I might, I’ll, um, echo what I have talked to other women about in the past. Um, we as, as homeschoolers, we have, you know, we have a homeschool community and there are some very young women in this community as well. There’s also a lot of us older ones who are, I’m almost 49 years old. Right. I guess I understand what happens often, these days is that women wait. They go get educated, they go have a career of some sort and then when the, the clock starts ticking, they have children. That’s what I did. So a lot of us are older and we have had the experience in the world in various professions. Some of these younger women are being brought up. Uh, I, I’m thinking of one in particular, uh, who went to law school to be a lawyer. Um, but she and her husband started, uh, while she was in law school––they were both in law school––to have children. And I see her trying to do it all. She’s not working as a lawyer, but she’s, she’s using her degree in a number of very valuable ways in the world. But I also see that it’s a lot, right? And I say to her and I say to many, and I think I’ve said even to you like, you know what? The most valuable, the most by far the most rewarding work I have ever done is parenting, is homeschooling my kids. Is getting even back back in touch with I think something that maybe we never even had. Us growing up with the two working parent family, um, having order in my home, my home is not chaotic and filthy––sometimes it gets messy––like you said, cooking, uh, uh, doing hand work, ah, having a rhythm of a, a not a hectic pace. All of these things have been, have felt so healthy. And parenting and homeschooling is beyond language in terms of how fulfilling that is. Right? So, I bring this up to suggest that the one, the main thing I think I’ve learned is that I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a mother, to bring these children into the world, to be a part of their experience and to understand my own experience simply by witnessing their unfolding. And beyond and beyond and beyond. Right? But at the same time, maybe because of my experience and my career before that perhaps I have that confidence, to, uh, uh, to inhabit whatever realm I find myself in. I think. Perhaps I have the experience––I mean, as you know, I’ve, I got involved in, uh, a lot in, in Sacramento and basically fighting a lot of legislation. Year after year. Perhaps my experience, my career, has, uh, assisted me in doing that ’cause I’m going there and advocating on behalf of our, of the families and the children. Right? So! I mean, how about you and, and let’s talk about how you’ve done it differently.

Thea:                                         21:34                       Yeah, right. I came at it, at the opposite angle. Um, I think uh, I mean, help me articulate it. I, you know, I, I came into adulthood becoming a parent. So I’ve been a parent for almost 20 years, you know, basically 20 years now. Um, and, and so that’s informed every part of me becoming a real adult. Um, and I, and I didn’t do a career. I didn’t go through the same cycle in that way. So I’ve found my voice in a different way though, in our reflection and sharing too. It’s like my voice was always there, uh, in a sense. And I always sort of, had a gut instinct that I’ve listened to, certainly regarding my children. Um, and, and so, you know, I know I’m not…

Anne:                                         22:12                       No, no, let me jump in. Let me, because for anybody listening to this, it’s like, so Thea had her first child at 23. Right? You were 23, weren’t you? And I actually, I’m six years older than Thea, but I, I used…You were my model actually, thank God. Right? And, and it took, you know, I was, uh, not going as much with my instincts, I think in general as you did, you knew inherently to do. I kind of, I wonder if it’s because it got educated out of me, it or it got, you know, even through or through the experience of just being out there in the, in the world and having to play that game. Right.

Thea:                                         23:25                       Totally.

Anne:                                         23:26                       So I would suggest, and we’ve talked about this before, but like you just articulated, I mean, I don’t really think you grow up. I mean, you can grow up without having children, but it is a, um, baptism by fire into the world of adulthood. Right? At least if you’re doing it, even semi-consciously. So you have always been an adult. I don’t think I really was an adult, uh, until I went through the first few years of the trials and challenges and decisions and responsibility of parenting. Right? So, you know.

Thea:                                         24:12                       Well, it’s curious that what it sparks in me, just even that reflection on your becoming a mother. My becoming a mother makes me think of our mother and our parents. Both. I would’ve called them feminists, you know, growing up. And I would say our mother was a different person in a large degree when she had me and brought me into the world than she was when she had you. She was much more empowered into herself, to a large degree. Through, you know, to, to, to in many regards. Um, and was beginning to trust her instinct a bit more. And I don’t know what those early years were like for our parents, you know, thinking people, but still very mainstream American people in a lot of regards in terms of family life. And, and um, through their trials and uh, struggles. They became something more unique in that time through dealing with our sister who was ill. So, so just in that, what that brings me to is just that when we’re talking about the role of the mother, it’s who you are, that that sets up your children for whatever their cycle, their ways of being, their ways of interacting and understanding themselves in the world. Um, and that’s a huge responsibility for parents, for women, for men. And we’re specifically speaking about women ’cause that’s what we are, you know. Um, so it’s kind of like, “Have courage, Women, for, for listening to your own self and discovering what that is and what that’s speaking because who knows better for our children than the parents, than the mothers? Than the people that have shepherded them into the world?” And when we look at the issues that we’re facing, I keep coming to our word “empowered” for today. It’s like, if each person truly were empowered to listen to themselves and to listen to their child and to listen to the rhythm of their life, that’s where change can happen.

Anne:                                         26:33                       Yes, I’d agree. And what I keep having going through my head is…and I just realized, you mainly, your first many, many years of parenting chose work that you could, that worked around your children.

Thea:                                         26:54                       Yes. Well that was the thing I knew and though my child’s father and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, we didn’t want to um, out…farm out at my kids. I, it made, you know, we were, we were not wealthy and it never really made sense to put my child in childcare. Who’s going to care for my child better than me? I mean, and that was just like a basic.

Anne:                                         27:18                       And that I feel like that’s, that’s somewhat at the crux of this whole thing here too. I mean that is a basic! No one is going to care for your child like you. Right? So..

Thea:                                         27:33                       Especially let’s, I want to be specific about my own thinking there too. Especially the infant. You know, if I had grandma, grandpa, Auntie, uncle, I didn’t have that as a, as a young mother at all. I built community of people. I could depend on what I needed, but in those early, very, very early years, I can’t imagine. I can’t, I mean, and, and I, we made sacrifices that I didn’t consider really sacrifices to not put my kid in some system like that. Um, but as they get older, I mean, there’s that picture of the village, you know, it takes a village because you being an Auntie and, and good friends that are aunties and uncles to my kids, my kids need more than just me as an archetype. And just their father as an archetype, they need other people so they can round themselves out, you know, I think, and so however we build that community, and that’s sort of what I think that’s the natural impulse of what school would be. But our schools don’t work like that. Right. They don’t become part of the village. That’s its separate entity for the most part. Waldorf schools, a small Waldorf school does. It does take on this sense of a village. Um, yeah. It can ideally, um, depending on how it’s held. So I know I’m…

Anne:                                         28:57                       No, it’s good! No, it’s all ’cause, this is important to…It’s all very important to recognize and, okay. So let’s recap. We see that there are some systemic problems. Uh, in the fabric of our society. School shootings have become a regular thing.

Thea:                                         29:29                       Medication, mental health medication for young children, teenagers, adults. That’s the norm.

Anne:                                         29:41                       Yes. That, that alone is a problem. Right? Um, so, so we need to fix it. I don’t think that this third, third wave feminism, I do not think that it’s, it’s serving us. What I see is, uh, is us moving away from the problems and the wholeness and the unity and becoming more and more segmented and shrill and divided and hateful. And we, we have and, and we, we can, we can flesh this out in another conversation, but we’ve, you identified the fact that, you know, for the woman to aspire to the archetype of woman, in, in, the archetypes full glory, she needs the man to be aspiring to the archetype of the man in his full glory. And feminism has been trying to do something in isolation, for some time and now almost in a combatant manner.

Thea:                                         31:05                       Very much.

Anne:                                         31:05                       Right. I find this Me Too movement, um, whacked.

Thea:                                         31:11                       Whacked.

Anne:                                         31:13                       It does not in any way suggest that, um, that, you know, abuse of one’s role or abuse of power is in any way, something I would condone. But I, I think that we are…movements like Me Too. And, and now…I frankly think the pussy hat march and this, what I find a kooky railing against president Trump, by virtue of him being a white man, it’s, it’s, it’s just driving us further away from what our strengths are, and our roles are. And it is…

Thea:                                         32:03                       And what is…would bring health and happiness. And that’s, that there is a togetherness that breeds happiness and health.

Anne:                                         32:14                       And we’re not victims. We are participants.

Thea:                                         32:18                       So here’s where I want to go from the Me Too. When this whole thing, which you know, you’ve already qualified. It’s, “I AM” and “WE ARE” instead of Me Too to that.

Anne:                                         32:32                       Yes. I want to, I want to just put some clarity on it for anybody listening ’cause no one else has been involved in our conversations. But Thea came up with this brilliant idea to, you know, when we were seeing what was happening with this Me Too movement and the witch hunting that it started to become, and also in fact, you know, I won’t, I won’t go into it too deeply, but to a start, uh, accusing men, uh, of…Instead of dealing with what I think were substantial situations in cases of men in power abusing their power and really disrespecting themselves and women, I think it started turning into, uh, it, um, it diminished the severity of the real situations where, and now men are afraid to even have interviews. Interview a woman alone in an office, always has to have a witness so that she doesn’t…

Thea:                                         33:45                       Accuse him of sexual harassment or something else. I mean, I know so many good men who have, who have been a victim of this.

Anne:                                         33:52                       Yes, me too.

Thea:                                         33:52                       And it’s, you know, it devalues the moments where it really is a truly abhorrent situation. Because learning, I mean, part of what I think we also discussed in that is like, learning how to navigate in the world as a woman, as a man is learning how to uh, deal with unwanted, uh, advances. I mean, that’s part of learning how to be in the world.

Anne:                                         34:24                       That is absolutely part of learning how to be a woman. And to put, put even a kind of a broader language on it. It is the responsibility, equal responsibility of the woman, and the man to, uh, to keep the balance of power between them.

Thea:                                         34:43                       Absolutely. Absolutely.

Anne:                                         34:45                       And we’ve never had, uh, more, more physical strength than men. Right? But throughout times in history, women have managed somehow to exert their authority in this dynamic, very successfully. So we need to help women come back to that, both with their men. And then also with their children.

Thea:                                         35:03                       Absolutely.

Anne:                                         35:25                       And stop acting like children and victims. Right?

Thea:                                         35:28                       Victims. Yeah. Because we are then, you know, if a woman is only going to carry that victim role, which it’s like, I want to qualify once more. That doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where a woman is not a victim or a man is not a victim, you know, there are real moments where it is atrocious. And that is not, that is not what it is to be human, to have the, the beautiful transformative power of sex be distorted in such a way that it becomes harmful. That’s not being, that’s not humanity. That’s not true humanity. Right?

Anne:                                         35:53                       Exactly. Because that, that beautiful union between a man and a woman should be empowering and glorious, not debasing and degrading right. That’s accepted as a given. Right?

Thea:                                         35:06                       And when that goes wrong, that is wrong and should be addressed. When there is the playful space. I mean, I could take all of this really back to what my…I’m so fortunate to have this work of learning about play and games and work with children and learning how to teach play because that’s something that has, you know, slowly become less available to young children in the world. Due to so many things. Um, but play, learning how to play.

That’s really what this comes down to, too. People that haven’t learned how to play, which Jaiman McMillan, when we talk about––who’s my teacher, Spacial Dynamics, great stuff. He, um, play is making connections and knowing how to remain separate, making connections and remaining separate. And when that play experience doesn’t happen, then when you have come into this budding sexuality, if you don’t know how to interact and then separate how to interact and read, “oh, that’s not what the situation calls for now.” When you aren’t listening, that’s when violence happens. Right? When those, those feelers that sense and perceive the situation, if they’re not working, if they haven’t been trained to work properly, that’s when we screw up. And you know, I mean obviously there’s, because I think what happens…I have a lot of compassion for the young man. It’s a scary world to come into having these feelings for a woman. How do you put yourself out there? How do you not be too forceful but not be too cowardly? That’s a fine balance to come into and it’s play. That’s what flirtation is. That’s what that banter is. That’s what’s so fun. When it’s engaged in properly. And so that’s part of the work of being a mother too, is to not be a victim. To have clear boundaries with your children and to be able to engage and let them feel where they are and how they relate to you as the archetype of woman for them. I’m talking about sons and daughters, you know.

Anne:                                         38:26                       Exactly. Let me, hold on one sec. So let’s, let’s conclude with touching on some prescription toward healing this right toward, and we’ll, we’ll get into it in further conversations about, about more of this. We’ll flesh it all out, but I, I love what you identified, which is in a way, let’s get first back in touch with that, that unspoken, a lot of the unspoken understandings between men and women, maybe? Because you, you can’t reduce it all down to language. And I think that’s part of what we’ve been trying to do. And so how do we begin to heal this, this divide between men and women? Because let’s face it, our, the survival of our humanity depends on that union, that healthy union, my door has just opened….So how do we simultaneously, um, fulfill each other’s needs, right?

Thea:                                         39:42                       That is the thing. There it is.

Anne:                                         39:45                       So, yeah. So how do we, so, so we need to focus on healing that. Perhaps a conversation needs to begin between men and women, right? A new conversation. That fosters renewed respect for each other’s strengths and what they bring to the party. Right? Once we do that, we can start focusing on our roles as parents to these new human beings coming in who are going to take our place and, uh, keep steering this ship. And I guess this is not any great epiphany or great answers to it all. But in our last conversation, I had mentioned that, uh, you know, someone, a friend of ours had been talking about, you know, maybe like a, a woman’s conference to kind of to heal, to heal the traumas. Right? We haven’t even touched on to traumas that, and we’ll do that in another one. And my reaction was resistant because I feel as if it may draw, uh, the type of person who wants to have more me time, be coddled, uh, and try to do this work in isolation, which can’t be done. Right? And then you said, you pointed out, well, let’s bring the men, too. Right?

Thea:                                         41:26                       It’d be more fun!

Anne:                                         41:28                       And, and, and then, and I was saying, well, and the children, right? Let’s bring the children. And so let’s make it a family conference. Right? And you said, “It’s called camping!” And there’s something to that because when you’re camping, you’re out there. You’re together. And unless you’re gonna go run away into the wilderness, you’re stuck together and you gotta make it work.

Thea:                                         41:56                       And you gotta make it work and it, and it simplifies. I mean, why do we all like to go? I mean, those that like to go camping? It simplifies our, what we do, eat, sleep, clean up, leisure time. And that’s about it, right?

Anne:                                         42:15                       Yes. And, and spending all that time together without distractions of television.

Thea:                                         42:22                       And, and phones, and everything else that is so accessible and prevalent everywhere.

Anne:                                         42:27                       Yes. Forces us to respectfully figure out how to inhabit our space together.

Thea:                                         42:38                       And so, and, and, and to have conflict that you then can learn how to create your own boundaries and respect other’s boundaries for solutions.

Anne:                                         42:50                       Gosh, that’s so true. Even without lots of rooms in a house or you know, uh, a job to go off to. Right? So…

Thea:                                         43:01                       Because you’re in it.

Anne:                                         43:28                       Yes. Cause you’re in it and you and you, you can’t go anywhere. So we’re going to hold that thought for our next conversation.

Thea:                                         43:37                       Let’s go camping.

Anne:                                         43:14                       That, you know, maybe what the world needs, the Western world needs is families going camping.

Thea:                                         43:19                       Families going camping!

Anne:                                         43:21                       And they may be able to work it all out,.

Thea:                                         43:25                       It’s true though! Because then your, your problems present. Your issues present when you cannot isolate in the way that the world is becoming more and more accustomed to. So…

Anne:                                         43:39                       Yes, yes! And you don’t have your shrink there to go talk about it with either.

Thea:                                         43:43                       And you don’t have anyone to complain to. I mean, honestly, families going camping is like step one, you know, your own nuclear family. Step two is do it with another family. Step three, add another family. And then it’s like that’s how you build culture. Because then you’re going to have conflicts. You and I, even when I, when I come up with my kids and the things that come up for our kids, how they have a different family culture that they have to interact with and work through and meet and find a dynamic together. So that’s our, our remedy. Play games, interact in real ways. Do real things.

Anne:                                         44:28                       Yes. And let’s start talking about putting it into language that what we’re trying to do is heal the dynamic between men and women. Not, and that is the empowerment. That is empowering. To, to continue dividing and uh, vilifying…

Thea:                                         44:50                       Blaming.

Anne:                                         44:50                       Right. Blaming will get us nowhere. So let’s, let’s shift these movements. Let’s figure out some new movements for the next conversation.

Thea:                                         45:02                       Absolutely. Wonderful. Thank you, Anne.

Anne:                                         45:05                       Okay. All right. I’m going to stop the recording and hang on. Looks Right. Stop. Can we want to stop it? Yes. If you, yes.

Featured post

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑

Follow us