July 18, 2010

The Transition to Parenthood

The Transition to Parenthood: How a First Child Changes a Marriage, Why Some Couples Grow Closer and Others Apart by Jay Belsky, Ph.D. and John Kelly.

This was a fascinating read in many ways.  I think as a married person with children I could hardly help but reflect on my own marriage and parenting in reading it (fortunately, my husband concurs with me that our marriage has improved since we had children, rather than declined.)

One question that occurred to me right away was to wonder about the diversity (or lack thereof) of the population Dr. Belsky's study was based on.  Although he talks about differences in parents' ages, religious views, and educational/work backgrounds, he doesn't ever mention race or sexual orientation.  Or, except by inference, class or financial status.  It's also disconcerting to me that he does not take into account the birth experiences of his subjects (something I would expect to bear some relationship to the outcomes he is interested in.)

After a while, though, I realized that another question I have to ask is about generational change.  Dr. Belsky's study was conducted with couples in my parents' and parents-in-law's generation.  I think some things have changed in the last 30 years that have some bearing on his study findings, especially in the realm of gender role expectations.  Of course gender role expectations are still relevant to marital satisfaction; but for most of my peers, there are (sometimes subtle, sometimes not) differences in how those expectations were formed and play out compared to our parents.  Unless we grew up in or have chosen a fairly extreme social conservatism of one sort or another, it's rare for any of us (male or female) to be unrepentant Traditionalists about gender roles.  The vast majority of us are some sort of Transitionalist or Egalitarian, and there is probably more variation in what those two terms might encompass than there was 30 years ago.

I'm convinced of the importance of the new parenthood transition - but maybe not a lot wiser about how to help it positively in situ.

July 13, 2010

Labyrinth of Birth: Creating a Map, Meditations and Rituals for Your Childbearing Year

Labyrinth of Birth: Creating a Map, Meditations and Rituals for Your Childbearing Year by Pam England.

Hurray, it's finally out!  I've been waiting for this book for a couple of months and I'm so excited that it's finally here (note to self: go write review on Amazon . . .)

And it's wonderful.  I have already been using the LabOrynth (birth labyrinth) in my childbirth classes and with doula clients.  I've even shared the model as applicable to all kinds of transitions with my religious education colleagues.  But I found lots of things that will enrich my sharing in this book.

Things I especially like:  the Mother and Child labyrinths from the Hopi people.  The Animal Labyrinths of the ancient Nazca people.  A picture of a pregnant woman with labyrinths and spirals drawn all over her body, making me want to try that as a mehndi pattern on a live pregnant woman.  A deeper understanding of the footprint part of the LabOrinth.  Awesome description of Ovarian Breathing.  For whatever reason, the whole section on death & rebirth. the LabOrinth Birth Story.  Inspiration to make myself a clay labyrinth.  And Most of All: the collection of "seeds" in the back of the book!

The quote that calls to me:

"It is an act of humility to ask the Mother to take your grief and pain because it is too great to heal by yourself."  (p. 82)

July 6, 2010

The Everything Toltec Wisdom Book: A Complete Guide to the Ancient Wisdoms

The Everything Toltec Wisdom Book: A Complete Guide to the Ancient Wisdoms by Allan Hardman.

I am not especially drawn to the Toltec path.  I'm not particularly bothered by it; I agree with many of its tenants.  But I don't see myself as enslaved by my mind, very much anyway.  I don't feel a great longing for freedom that I don't have, most of the time.  Maybe this is because I was raised by someone interested in personal and spiritual growth, who shared many of her learnings with her children.  And I was raised in a faith tradition that values each person's search for truth and meaning, without directing one path or one right way.  And as an adult, I've done my own spiritual work, pretty intensively, for over 12 years.  Maybe all these things have gotten me somewhere. I am aware that I am still growing and learning and strongly desire to keep doing so.  But the metaphors of the Toltec Masters aren't particularly evocative for me.

I think the most useful thing for me about this book is the last chapter: a description of a spiritual journey through Teotihuacan - which is very evocative.  I love seeing another path into the mystery, and how it marches along and diverges from others I am familiar with (Innana's journey to the underworld and twelve step traditions, especially.)