The last four years have been a real eye opener for me. Before I had my own children I really didn’t understand the reality of being a parent, many of us don’t. At times parenthood feels like a marathon with no finish line, and let me tell you…people break down. I am actually quite saddened by how hard this journey has been on both myself and quite a few of my close friends. In general it is more pervasive into a mothers life, but of course there are exceptions. It is hard to a point where you lose yourself to exhaustion, isolation, self doubt and a weird rage that was never there before. But I do not believe it has always been this way. The fact is our modern society, our neighbourhoods, our new age family…just doesn’t support raising human children.
I recently read a great article about how the loss of village life has most affected mothers and I whole heartedly believe this. “Perhaps most tragically of all, the absence of the village is distorting many mothers’ sense of self. It’s causing us to feel that our inadequacies are to blame for our struggles, which further perpetuates the feeling that we must do even more to make up for them.”
My own journey has been hard, I have been at breaking point many a time, but there is one thing that has helped beyond all else. My tiny stay-at-home village. My mum and dad.
My parents are retired, and since our son’s birth four years ago we have all lived together for two years and only lived five minutes apart for the remainder. We see each other almost every day. They help with pretty much everything, from entertaining kids to household chores. If I am in a fowl mood, they accept it. If my house is a bomb site, they help clean. If I feel like giving the kids away, I can (for a short time at least;)). They are always there.
To be honest I have had many a pang of guilt about how much I rely upon them. Sometimes thoughts of inadequacy creep into my mind, “this is wrong, I should’t need them”, which is RIDICULOUS. But, as the years go on and I still rely on them more then ever, I am accepting that it is right. That having our family (and ideally our extended family) close by, helping daily, is actually the way it was for so many thousands of years. Accepting that our current family makeup is a blip on our existence as a species.
I also have the most amazing friends. Beautiful, caring, inspiring people. Shouldn’t they be enough? Well, no. Because the fact is most of them are in the very same exhausted, isolated, self doubting, weird rage head space that we are in (that is most of them have young children or demanding jobs, or both). On top of that our days are just not intertwined enough that we can fully support each other in the ways that are needed. Whether that means we live too far apart, work varying hours or simply cook, eat and sleep separately (because hey, that is what happens when you don’t live in a huddle of huts).
So here’s a tired mum saluting her tiny stay-at-home village and sending a little wish out that one day our villages will grow again, in a different and wonderful way.