I love learning about women from other times in history and places around the world. One of my favorite times in history to learn about is the 1800s in America when families were putting just a few bare necessities in a covered wagon and heading west in a caravan to find a new life, new land. Allie and I are reading about that time period in school right now. It fascinates me. It wasn't uncommon for a woman to be 9 months pregnant and walking 15-20 miles a day while carrying one or more of her other children. It wasn't uncommon for a woman's husband to be attacked and killed by Indians or one of her children to die of a disease or accident along the way. But they kept going. They didn't have time to grieve and get counseling and have a girls' night and write in their diaries about their feelings. They pressed on. I often wonder if they had the same feelings we would have about those events and just didn't have any avenues of release, or if, since it wasn't uncommon, they just saw those things as necessary evils. Either way, I admire them. We read a biography of Daniel Boone and it told of his wife being left at home with 12 children while he was gone for months on end, no way to know if he was okay or what he was doing. It's so hard to imagine enduring that when I lament my husband being gone overnight for a business trip- and I have a cell phone to call him on anytime! I wonder. . . in our modern, advanced society, have we become total wimps?? Do we just not believe that we can endure the way those women did? Do we not still have it in us or is it there, we just never let things get uncomfortable enough to know if we can withstand it?
I am also fascinated by pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood in other countries. Growing up I always thought, as probably most of us did, that everyone in all the world did things just like we did here in Alabama. I'm realizing more every day that we are not only in the minority, we are seriously lagging behind in so many areas. Our education system ranks as one of the lowest in all developed nations of the world. Our medical culture is seriously suffering. We use more money, more technology, but produce way worse results, particularly in the area of obstetrics. I watched a documentary last night called "The Business of Being Born" (TOTALLY recommend it!) that really opened my eyes to the issue. We have more fertility issues, pregnancy complications, and infant deaths in the U.S. than the rest of the world, but supposedly we are technologically advanced. Countries that experience fertile women with healthy babies support home birth, midwifery, breastfeeding, and babywearing- all things that seem to be "extreme" in our culture. We call those people "hippies" here. But taking a global perspective makes the hippie way look pretty smart if you ask me. I wonder. . . why have we embraced practices and traditions that don't work? Are we lazy? Conformists? Afraid to ask questions and rock the boat? Would we really rather do things the socially accepted way, even if they aren't the best way? Do we trust a doctor's medicine more than we trust God's design of our bodies and instincts as life-givers and mothers?
I've been asking myself these types of questions on and off for a couple of years now. I want to make sure I'm not just doing something because it's the way people in my "circle" do it, at least not without questioning it to see if it's really the smart thing. Oftentimes, the best things are the hardest things. Therefore they are not always popular. I don't want to do something a certain way just because it is convenient or easy. It's interesting when you look at the choices women made 200 years ago or they make today on the other side of the world and let it challenge your personal norm. There is wisdom to be found in their perspectives.