Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where is My Village?

If you follow my posts at all, you'll know the last few weeks have been somewhat of a challenge for me, mental-health wise.  I've talked about coping mechanisms like humor and crafting, and I've been pretty good (in my opinion) trying to use these things to feel better.  I even managed to drag my butt to my mom's group at church on Tuesday and to yoga on Wednesday.  Alas, to no avail.  Some days seem to go okay, and then there are days like today, when the devil is whispering in my ear horrible things about myself, I keep screaming at my kids, and I can't get the image of running my car into a tree out of my mind.

I'm not talking about this stuff simply to whine, but to bring up a larger problem:  why do we mother alone?  A friend of mine, a yoga instructor, once promoted a "Yoga Playdate" class by saying, "Come build your village."  That phrase has stuck with me ever since.  Regardless of if you're a Hillary Clinton fan or not (I'm referring to her book It Takes a Village), there's something to the thought that mothering (and parenting in general) should be a shared task.  It seems that almost every mother I know, at some time or another, has felt alone, vulnerable, and overwhelmed.  The vulnerable and overwhelmed feelings are probably just parts of being a mom, but the "alone" part shouldn't have to be.

Take me, for example. Today I keep wondering how the hell I'm going to make it through the day -- and, more importantly, how the kids will make it through without me totally losing it.  I am truly blessed that I know I could call my mom or father-in-law and, if they could, they could help  -- but my mom works, and my father-in-law has his own stuff going on, and I feel like it's not their job to parent my kids.  Plus, that makes me feel like I'm failing -- why can't I "stick it out" or "suck it up?"  And I feel horribly, painfully alone.

I've often wondered why there isn't some sort of emergency babysitting service available.  Why don't we have services or groups for women, with help available 24-7?  If our society could pull together to offer services like this, I would almost guarantee that child abuse, infanticide, and maternal suicide (not to mention depression and other mental illnesses) would become less prevalent.  Unfortunately, I think the reason these services don't exist is the same reason that I feel guilty calling someone for help.  Mothers are expected to be able to do everything, to be everyone, to cook everything, to work anywhere, and still maintain some sort of sanity.  And for those of us that don't work -- well, what the heck is OUR problem?  We don't even have the stress of a real job, so of course we should be able to deal with whatever comes along (I hope my sarcasm comes through here).

How have we gotten so isolated?  I'd blame it on technology, but I think it started well before the advent of the internet and social media.  I'm sure there's lots of scholarly research on the topic, and I think I'll check it out, but I just don't have the energy today.  Right now, I'm just throwing out the questions to hopefully start some thinking on the topic.

Okay, my baby is shrieking in her crib, so I guess that's enough writing for me today.  In the meantime, if you're a mom and feel overwhelmed, check out this "Tonglen for Mothers" by DeLona Campos-Davis. My favorite line:

I breathe in the loneliness of days spent mothering on my own.
I breathe out connection, community, compassion.
Just breathe.

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