Intimacy and Autonomy

Everything on earth has its own time and its own season, There is a time for birth and death, …. embracing and parting. There is a time for finding and losing, keeping and giving.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1,5-6

Woman carrying a child downstairs, Rembrandt, 1636

Woman carrying a child downstairs, Rembrandt, 1636

Birth is a leaving of the confined and safe environment of the womb, where food, warmth, human contact is constant. But the child has to leave all that to grow, to learn to move, to speak, make contact. To know her mother the baby has to leave. To be held and kissed and spoken to the child has to come out of the womb and know for the first time separation. Babies are supposed to experience this as trauma – and react in different ways – sleeping to ignore it, crying to protest about it. Many theories exist about birth and bonding, about finding a safe place to arrive, about reluctance to leave the womb, about being expelled from the womb. People say the baby decides when to come – but all mothers know how hard it was to push them out! A new closeness is here preceded by a separation. And so begins our dance between autonomy and intimacy, between independence and dependence. Being separate but choosing oneness with God.  

Kirsty Hook