I had a total lightning bolt, epiphany moment today. I was taking part in a couple of wonderful conversations in one of my favorite private Facebook groups. One beautiful mama is struggling with postpartum depression. The love and support that flowed from the other women was almost palpable. And it came up more than once how we all wished we were closer so we could physically help this mother instead of just give her "virtual" support. The word "tribe" and "commune" came up and I was moved to tears.
I know that very recently I put forth the idea that maybe parenting isn't all that hard, and that we make a lot of the difficulty ourselves. I still think that is true. But I also think that parenting - especially mothering - is really, REALLY hard in the modern world. Especially in the first months and years when our babies are tiny and depend on others for EVERYTHING.
A few neighborhood friends had babies recently and we chatted a few times in the first few months. Most of them were not first-time moms. One couple admitted that they questioned their sanity in adding another person to their family. I could completely understand where they were coming from. I flat out told the mom that the newborn months are all about survival. Especially when you have older children. It's just the truth.
I have had a refrain in my head lately and it is, "The way we live is just not natural." We long for our tribe. I remember saying those exact words to my mother on the phone when Gerry was a newborn. I have a dream of starting a commune with like-minded families. It's like my own personal utopia. Let me tell you, I have not found a mom yet who thought I was crazy for this idea. Every single one of them either wants to sign up and join my commune or says, "oh yeah, I've thought of joining one too!"
Men seem to be a little more hesitant. And I really think it's because they don't sense the urgency of our need. I know my husband doesn't. And here is where a positive attitude may actually be detrimental. Because I *do* love my life and have really embraced every step of our path so far, it's difficult for my husband to understand the depth of my need - for sisters surrounding me and other children mingling with ours. For someone to talk to. For more hands to help with food and other everyday activities. For camaraderie. For the natural flow of sharing life with others.
I love the neighborhood we live in now. And we've been building up our own support network here: people to check in on our cats when we're away, and friends who bring me soup when I'm sick, lots of neighborhood kids that we play at the park with and have awesome parties with, a neighbor who is like Marisol's third grandmother. And I've learned a lot about how I can build up a supportive network - mostly by giving myself. Because the more I give the more I receive in return.
Ideally we have our "tribe" established before we have children. People who live close to their families often already have a great foundation. But many women (and some men) find themselves very lonely when they bring home their first (or second, or third, or...) baby. Perhaps it is because we are so busy reveling in our freedom and independence when we are young adults and first married. I know I loved our first few years of marriage. We explored, traveled, shopped, worked, played, and relished our time together, just us. We got to see the world through our eyes as a new family. It was wonderful.
Then BAM. We had a little baby and a whole new world opened up before our very eyes. We were responsible for this new little soul, who was completely dependent on us - and it was overwhelming and a little scary. When our first was just over one year old, we moved away from both of our families and struck out on our own. I was without a tribe.
This is true for so many mothers. They are home alone with 1 or 2 (or 5 or 6) children with very little support.
So I was thinking through all of these things this morning when it hit me.
At a time when many mothers (or fathers) are really needing help themselves, children are pushed to be "independent" before they are ready.
Whoa. There *has* to be a link there. Subconsciously how many moms are realizing they just can't do it all alone... and then they turn around and try to make their kids do "it" (whatever "it" may be) themselves? The lack of support given to mothers becomes a weight that is shifted to children, as we all try to cope with our (relatively) new "nuclear" way of living.
And as quickly as this realization came I also knew that until we support our mothers the way *they* deserve to be, kids will not get the lives they deserve.
Does this resonate with you at all? Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.