Giving birth is hard work. Following hours of labor and the final push of delivery, a woman definitely deserves the pampering she will (hopefully) get from her family and the six weeks or more of maternity leave that she will (again, hopefully) have. She needs time to let her body rest and her hormones adjust to the absence of her baby inside of her.
We have recently seen the birth of a new year, 2014. I, along with many of you, did a lot of hard work in the holiday season leading up to that birth. I labored to decorate my home, write annual Christmas letters, and cook holiday sweets. I planned a big Christmas party, sent invitations, and polished silver. I cooked Christmas dinner for my family. I found joy in this labor and took delight in the work. Once the final push of Christmas was behind me, there was still the afterbirth to contend with. All of the decorations had to be taken down and put away, and my house had to be returned to some semblance of “normal”. The afterbirth was not joyful like the birth. It was just part of the process, something ordinary that had to be done.
Now, the holidays are behind us and we are in the long, dark days of January. In the past, I have dreaded this time of year. Confined by the cold, and limited by the short days, I’ve typically felt sad, perhaps mildly depressed. This year has been different. Our focus on birth and new beginnings has made me realize that whenever I expend creative energy, the result is a birth. I used a lot of creative energy during the holidays and when January arrived, I was tired. It turned out that these long dark days are exactly what I needed. They are giving me time to rest and re-energize after my labor. With this new understanding, I’m enjoying this time. I’m not quite hibernating, but my schedule is less frenzied and there is room to “do nothing”. I’m on maternity leave and taking advantage of it!