Last week I went to the loo.
Nothing ground breaking there, however, last week I got to close the door.
Not only that, but after I was finished, I sat there for a minute or two longer than I needed to. Just sitting. Thinking about nothing. Just picking my cuticles and thinking about making a cup of tea.
Childless people would say ‘er duh, what’s the biggie?’ but anyone with sproglets would look at me with avarice in their eyes. How could I do this, they would ask? Was I not worried my toddler would be smothering my baby with his stuffed Rat, or sticking CDs in the toaster?
Nopes, because I was staying with my family.
Once upon a time, it took a village to raise a child, but now, in this bigger, better, faster age more and more people are doing it all alone. Neighbours don’t help neighbours, extended families don’t live together or even near each other and often families are simply unable to lend a hand due to their own requirements to be out earning money or playing bowls or whatever grandparents do when they’re not babysitting.
With the world becoming easier to access, and more people traveling and setting up shop around the globe, people are having their families miles away from their support networks. So, just how important is a support network when you have children?
The simple fact of the matter is, when your partner is at work all day every day and you’re stuck in Groundhog Day, it’s nice if there is someone to lend a hand now and then. Even just someone to share a cup of tea with, and chat about what’s going on (or not going on) in your life.
I wonder if post natal depression is on the rise because we do no longer live in this village way?
Mother’s Groups can be a great help (not my bag, but last round the escapees and I got on famously), and I’ve heard many women say they would not have survived without it….but when you have more than one child you can no longer go. Toddlers aren’t welcome, probably for fear of terrifying mums of newborns and creating a whole spate of infanticide.
I recently found myself going under. I was feeling increasingly sad, and very cranky.
Mister H was working on a big project, and was pulling long days. Combine that with his training and I felt like a single mother (hats off to single mums around the world….it is one mother truckin’ tough gig). I didn’t tell anyone I was struggling, because I couldn’t really put my finger on what the problem was. The day to day business of raising children is not exactly difficult, but the repetition, routine and constant negotiation with a toddler can grind you down, added to the months of disturbed sleep.
I’m lucky that my family live only an hour’s plane ride away, so I jumped that plane and got to where the love is flowing and the whiskeys are poured large.
While hanging at my bro’s house recently, my sister-in-law had the big kids in the bath together while I breastfed and then I started dinner, all nice and relaxed, not feeling like a jumped up juggler in curly jester shoes, keeping a chainsaw, an axe and an egg all in the air. I realised then that perhaps there was something to be said for polygamy. The husband has his hands full, sure, but the wives have sister wives to help them. Shame I’m such a shit sharer, that’s never going to fly for me.
Apparently, people are twice as likely to say yes to babysitting for an hour than people are to ask. If you need an hour off, and you do the math on that, you’ll realise you’re failing the maths test.
So, why is it so hard to ask for help?
I was discussing it with a girlfriend and I told her I felt like I was failing motherhood if I needed help. Millions of women don’t have help. She suggested that perhaps it was a sign of a great mother, one who recognised when help was needed to maintain the balance of sanity.
I’m not going to lament my lack of village any longer. I’m going to build a village. I’ve invited over a group of mums from my locality, 2 Poms, a Yank and a Dane. Sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? All we need to do is walk into a bar. They’re all here raising babies without their tribes. I’m going to suggest a weekly co-op babysitting vibe. Twice a month you look after someone else’s kids for two hours, but twice a month, you get two hours off.
It’s not huge, but it’s enough time to get your bikini line sorted before Chewbacca mistakes you for a mate, get the groceries done without having a scene in the biscuit aisle, or simply curl up and read a book quietly (might even get that book finished by 2014).
That’s all it is. Just a little space so I can just be me.
Not someone’s mum.
Not someone’s wife.
My village may not be my tribe, but maybe we can start a new tribe?