It Takes a Village

This past week I have been doing some online research on mothers from around the world. How mothering is done the same, and how mothering is done differently. Perusing images of mothers from all corners of the globe.

Why?

I guess I have been yearning for some sort of connection. It is very grounding to think that I would have anything in common with say, and African woman who lives in a small village with no running water or electricity, for example.

But our commonalities are vast.

We both use our clothes to mop up spit up.

We both wear our babies close throughout the day, and lay close to them at night.

We both nurse our babies wherever and whenever they would like.

We both kiss boo-boos, cuddle away fevers, and clean poopy bottoms.

We both sing songs with our children.

Tell stories.

We both find ways to include our oldest while tending to the youngest.

We both balance chores, and meals, and discipline, and teaching.

We both have broken sleep, achy bodies, and tired eyes.

We both have callused hands and tender hearts.

We both love our children fiercely, and would gladly sacrifice anything and everything for their utmost happiness.

I am bonded with millions of women across the world by being a mother. And that, is a beautiful thing.

I have read a few articles on how the saying, “It takes a village…” came to be. See, before we became a (mostly) industrialized and suburban-ized world, humans lived in villages. Men would band together and go work or hunt, and women would hold down the village. They would do everything together. Take the textiles or clothing to the water to wash together, prepare food together, clean together, socialize together.. and above all, they would mother together. Women with several children had several sets of eyes on their babies. They shepherded each others children, nursed each others children, comforted each others children, taught each others children. Mothers in a village were never alone. Mothering is not meant to be done in isolation.

I find myself wondering if this one of the reasons why being a mother is so hard. SO much responsibility on one person, paired with lack of sleep and pure exhaustion is a recipe for anxiety, depression, and resentment.

America doesn’t live in villages anymore. But that doesn’t mean that mothering needs to be done alone. We need to create our own mothering villages.

There seems to be an uprising of “Mommy Battles” lately when it comes to parenting styles. A lot of judging and bashing one another. We need to remember that we are all in way over our heads. We are all tired, and touched-out, and gived-out, and we all do what we can to get through the day sometimes. Some days are harder than others. Some days all I have accomplished is my children being fed and watered and diapers are changed. And, some days, that is a feat in itself. Those days are hard, because you feel like you are the only one who is struggling…you are the only one who sometimes feels that you signed up for way too much and you just aren’t cut out for this job. You wonder if you will ever get a peaceful shower again, or a full nights sleep, and you find yourself daydreaming about the days before these little beauties were in your life. You kick yourself for ever taking for granted sleeping in until 8, or being able to sit down for dinner, or watch whatever the hell you want to on TV. But you don’t want to complain. You don’t want to sound like you DON’T have it together. You don’t want to look like you are hanging on by a thread. This is your job. And you take it very seriously. And God help the woman who questions your parenting style, or feeding preference, or sleeping arrangements…

I get it. I am so right there.

BUT.

We need to give each other a break.

Instead of tearing one another down, we need to be holding each other’s hands. We need to spend time together. We need to listen, and learn, and swap ideas from each other. We need to pile our children into our tiny homes and let them run-a-muck while we enjoy a cup of coffee together. And after the pot is down to the dregs, we need to help each other with that pile of laundry on the floor, or help unload a dishwasher, or help with meal plans for the week. We need to be the extra eyes on the brood of kiddos while a mommy can get her weekly shower in.

We need to give and take and just get by…together.

After all, it takes a village.

*This post was originally published on my blog, This Woman’s Work, on June 18, 2012*

Photos courtesy of http://blog.ob.org/celebrating-mothers-around-the-world-2/ and http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/herorats/updates/?subid=20350

About Lindsay Karns

Lindsay Karns is a work-at-home mother to two daughters, Lula and Olive. She is a writer, massage therapist, wine and food lover, activist, and passionate about all things attachment parenting. Author of This Woman’s Work, she started her blog when she found out she was pregnant with her 2nd child, and wanted to chronicle her journey through her natural pregnancy and home birth. Over time, it has evolved into much, much more.

Lindsay runs Traditions Wellness Center with her mother, where she practices massage therapy.

When Lindsay isn’t busy writing or treating her clients, you will find her stuffing cloth diapers, cleaning up after Hurricane Toddler, and trying out new vegan recipes.