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!