I’m sure we’ve all heard of penis envy (Oh Freud, did you ever even talk to a woman, really?) But is there such a thing as womb envy? Do men ever feel envious that they cannot bear life? That the powerful changes and emotions of the pregnancy experience is something they can only try to imagine? Certainly, they provide a necessary and vital function in the creation, protection, and rearing of future generations. But they never feel another heartbeat beside their own. Nor do they feel the warm glow of new life within.
Really, it is truly a magical and wondrous thing: our ability to conceive life. That within our bodies, a separate and (all-too-soon) autonomous being can grow and develop. That we can give nourishment, lavish care, and truly devote our entire lives and beings to another. That we can even bear life so another might experience the joy of motherhood.
And that we, too, are connected to the moon and the oceans, waxing full, and then shedding and beginning again in lunar cycles. (Which, by the way, did you know? Up until a few decades ago, we were told the cramps associated with menarche were merely psychosomatic? It’s a wonder no woman ever punched the lights out of those making such claims. Thankfully for us, it has been scientifically proven it’s not just all in our heads.) And we are connected to each other, converging cycles with those close to us.
Of course, the pain and unpredictability of childbirth is terrifying. And I’m sure the terror and helplessness men feel as they watch their wives bear children is significant in its own right. But the raw power of such self-sacrifice in order to create a beautiful, new life is something only women can know.