As I write this, it is the day after Labor Day, a holiday held in honor of working people. The observance has a complex history that sheds light on how we work and in what conditions. It is a day with deep economic and political roots that continue to play out in human experience. But is easy for the meaning of the day to get lost in the BBQ, Labor Day Sale, and last hurrah camping trip shuffle.
I've given birth to two baby humans. Because I chose to attempt childbirth without the pain numbing drugs, I felt every contraction. There is a reason they call them labor pains. While the memory of the actual pain is long gone, I still remember my actual experiences of childbirth in technicolor clarity. In both cases, there was a particular point in time when it felt like progress had come to a screeching halt. The contractions, however, had not, and continued with a vengeance. Even though giving up wasn't an actual option, it was all I wanted to do. It felt like I was working hard, but to no avail. Exhaustion and discouragement began to settle in, and just when I was sure I couldn't keep going, my labor and delivery nurse looked me in the eye, took my hand and guided it down until it rested on top of something warm and wet and soft. "Molly, that's the top of your baby's head. A few more pushes and you will be holding a little human in your arms." In the midst of all of my labor, I had forgotten who I was working so hard to deliver. She reminded me.
We aren't meant to labor in vain.
Our hard work is meant to be fruitful.
We need to remember to what ends we are working.
Every now and then it helps to touch the top of the baby's head.