Thursday, February 3, 2011

The One Person Village

Being a stay at home mother is a lonely and sometimes grueling job.  It probably doesn't seem like it would be to someone who has never done it.  After all, such moms are at home all day.  What could there possibly be to do in all that time?  Housework and childcare surely don't take that long.  But you see, it isn't just the work itself.  It is the constant monotony and glaring isolation.  It is being on call at all times.  When you have an infant, it is trying to calm someone who can't tell you what is wrong for hours on end.

Don't get me wrong.  I love being with my daughter, and I do take time for myself sometimes.  But days of getting things done in brief snatches and seeing no one but my husband and baby start to drag at my psyche.  It builds and builds until suddenly I feel defeated.  All I can do is go through the motions and hope it gets better soon.

I've heard that it takes a village to raise a child.  The thing is, we don't live in villages around here.  I barely know my neighbors.  Most of my family live over an hour away, and my husband's family is even farther.  I have friends, but they live twenty minutes or more from here and have their own challenges.  I feel like a one-person village.  My husband tries to give me some relief, but there is only so much he can do.  I haven't been away from my daughter for even an hour since November.

Before the advent of the single-family household norm, new mothers would have other relatives around to help.  Mom, Grandmother, Aunts, Sisters--a network of women who shared all of the household tasks.  Oh, I'm sure there were disadvantages, like a lack of privacy and personality conflicts, but at least there were people to help lift the burden of sometimes-overwhelming responsibility.  Now, we must learn to forge our own support networks.  We need to find the mothers who, like me, are sitting at home feeling lost.  And don't forget working mothers!  Their challenges are different in ways but no less daunting.  We need other women around us no matter how their journey of motherhood may differ.  We need a network tied together by our shared struggle rather than by blood.

In modern life, we have to build a new type of village.  Let's start now!


  1. This is something I'm actually studying for a book, the breakdown of the woman's village in conjunction with the increase of depression and psycho/physiological problems in both mothers and children.

    Currently, my experimental philosophy is this: Get 4-5 stay at home moms to get together and rotate houses. Craft together, Clean the house, and work out. During this time, in the ideal, there is much talking, children are watched and dinners are planned/recipes traded, ect.

  2. That sounds like a really interesting book. I'm thinking you'll find a strong correlation between the two. I need to find another stay at home moms to do the house rotation with. Sounds nice.

  3. This is why I never moved away to far from my parents. It is especially coming in handy now! It is a pain sometimes, but my kids are as close to my parents as they are to me and my husband. i only had my mom and brother around growing up and my mom doesnt count since she was stressed out all the time with "stay at home mom fever".

    Wanna get together friday?

  4. Wow...I am in the same exact boat. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 6 month old and a 3-yr-old and everyday just seems like the same exact routine. I love my children to death and am so blessed to have the opportunity to stay home with them all day, everyday, but I need a life other than being mommy 24-7, 365 days a year. My family is about 2 hours away and none of my friends have children, so I've sort of been left in the dust. @wodentoad I think thats a good idea. It would be interesting to see the results and how it helps mom to have that companionship with other moms and mix up the routine a little bit. Everyone needs a little change in scenery sometimes.