Referring back to my entry of a few weeks ago, it didn’t feel right to leave it without an update and a plea.
First, I want to offer a huge thanks to all who reached out to us personally with kind thoughts and words of encouragement. It is always so reassuring to know how many people are pulling for our family.
Second, I could not (and cannot) believe how many of those messages started with I could have written this myself. For that, I am so sorry – I know this road is incredibly difficult. I am so glad that you found comfort in knowing that you are not on this road alone. Growing humans is not for the feeble. There are no instructions or best practices or do-X-and-Y-will-happen guidebooks. Frankly, that sucks.
Third, the plea. Also, the meat of this entry. Third is a Call to Mom Action. Maybe even a bit of a demand. Okay, the thing is, I am about to be
It takes a village.
I know that’s cliché and half of you just canceled me because “It Takes a Village” is the title of a book written by someone you might not like, but hang on just one second. The saying was not invented in the 90’s – it is actually found among many African villages and is ages old and, also, IT IS SO TRUE. It does take a village. It takes a MOM village. Raising kids is not something that should be taken on as a solo project – nor, I suspect, was it ever meant to be. In a time when extended families do not necessarily live just down the street from each other anymore compiled with spiking (and blatant) mom-shaming, the gig has become very much a lonely one. Ladies, we need to turn this bus around. We need to create circles in which we can be honest with each other. We need to cultivate our own Mom Safe Spaces where we can sit down over chips and salsa, blurt out things like Oh, I effing hate these tyrants and not worry about what will be whispered down the lane. And if you are one of those who gets a weird high off of playing whisper down the lane, STOP. The only thing that you are actually accomplishing is shutting yourself out of a village that you will likely need someday.
Here’s a pro-tip on this free blog:
If you don’t have a village when you need one, it can be devastating.
Without a village, there will be no one to summon to action when you need a shoulder, an ear, a tissue, a glass of wine, or a reality check. Without a village, there will be no one to tell you what an amazing job you are doing (you are). Without a village, there will be no one to drop everything at a moment’s notice to rescue you up from the fetal position that you were driven to by unending tears. Without a village, there will be no one to remind you of your worth (and you have so much worth). Without a village, there will be no one to affirm that your worth is not dependent on producing perfect children (it most certainly isn’t). Without a village, there will be no one to assure you that, at some point, what you’ve given your kids is enough and what they do with it is neither a reflection of your parenting nor in your control. Without a village, there will be no one to tell you that the people you raise may take a path that you didn’t plan for and that that is totally normal (because it is).
Without a village, there will be no one to tell you that it will all be okay (it will).
I know – your husband or partner is also qualified to cover all of those hot spots. It’s just that we women tend to measure ourselves based on what the women around us think. We measure ourselves on what our mom-ming colleagues think about us. My husband is one of the most compassionate, empathetic people I know – he says all of the right things around eighty-seven percent of the time. But I need to hear the right things from those who are truly riding in the same boat as me – the Moms. Those who have not taken vows or make witnessed promises to be nice to me. I need that village to tell me that it’s going to be okay. I need that village to tell me that I’m doing an amazing job. We moms? We all need that.
Catty women are nothing new. We develop our catty-ness as girls. And we women are all guilty of being catty. Being catty is probably built into our lady hormones as some sort of defense option to protect our lady feelings. What’s changed in the last decade is the ability to be catty in public – whether at Target or on Facebook or while sitting in the school’s auditorium. What’s changed is that we have multiple formats to humble brag about our parenting successes – the same formats where we hide our parenting failures. It seems many women have lost the ability to not-say-anything-at-all in lieu of back-handed plugging of their own parenting wins via the path of tearing down those whom, they feel, are not winning. I’m guilty of it myself – it likely stems from a need to help, but now morphs into a statement of you’re probably just an idiot. Sometimes it doesn’t even stem from a need to help. Sometimes it starts out as a response to thinking that another mom, raising a child that you don’t even know, living in a house that is not yours, in circumstances that you do not understand…knows less about the right thing for that child than you do.
Hi. That’s really stupid.
If you drive by a stopped car with a flat tire – are you ever inclined to take a picture, post it on social media, and include an eye-roll-y comment about how you’d never leave the neighborhood without four full loads of air? Would you respond to the news of a local family’s house fire with a neighborhood campaign of (whisper voice) I would never not know about an electrical issue in my house…! We need so much less of the judge-y stuff and so much more of the help-y stuff. We need moms to band together for regular chats. We need to create moments in which we can learn that everyone single one of us has small and large and gigantic speed bumps in on the path growing our humans. Allowing the distance to sit between us, whether it be from lack of time, lack of energy, or fear of looking like an utter failure removes the opportunity to learn that every single one of us moms everywhere feels exhausted and overwhelmed or underqualified.
This is a shorter blog this week. No really, I’m already almost done.
I’d rather offer a challenge than extra paragraphs.
Find your village.
Create a village if that’s a new concept. Reconnect with a village that you’ve lost track of. Make Mom get togethers a priority. Put something on the calendar now for this month – coffee, lunch, chips & salsa. And before your part ways from that session, put something on your calendars for the next month and so on.
Bare your soul. Be brave. Start the conversation.
And tell someone in your village right now that it will be okay (because it will).
Oh yes, the update.
I think we are almost at a point where we can start breathing again with regards to the mental health of our eldest child. That’s not to say that we don’t have quite a ways to go – but we do feel that we are finally pointing in the right direction. A byproduct is that we have a few annoying brain gnats zipping around our heads singing if only we’d done this sooner. I try to counter that with everything happens when it’s supposed to…but that’s basically a bullshit line that only works half the time. Our child is finishing an intensive outpatient therapy program today. There is a marked difference in who this child is today versus who she was a month (or two months or three years or, or, or) ago. We see a determined side of her that we are not familiar with. We now live with a young adult who is able to have productive, grown-up conversations. We have been asked not to help as she wants to figure out her re-launch in her own way.
So, yeah, that’s a huge adjustment.
Her therapists have told her throughout this course that she is in “speed therapy” while her parents are still slugging along at a snail’s pace. Because of that, she’s been guided to have a whole lot of patience with us. That is totally accurate – we are still slugging along, tentatively, wondering when the other shoe will drop or if all shoes are actually accounted for. Next steps are still in the works, but we are able to talk about next steps in terms of phases – what happens tomorrow vs what happens in two months vs what happens next year. Our (the parents) only real goals over the last month have been to get a good night’s sleep, to feel like we could exhale, and to gain some confidence (or comfortableness?) in sending this child back out into the world. We seem to be heading that direction in all three areas.
Of course, as we have learned, the world could certainly turn itself right back upside down at the drop of a hat. This time we will be better prepared. We will have a written benchmark to refer to, telling us when and if it is time to take a step back and regroup. This time, we will not wait it out with the same callous oh, sure, we can fix this! attitude of the past. This was too big for us. We have no more hesitancy in bringing someone else to take the wheel as needed. After all, that’s what our village is for, right?
Courtesy of Wiki:
- In Lunyoro (Bunyoro) there is a proverb that says “Omwana takulila nju emoi,” whose literal translation is “A child does not grow up only in a single home.”
- In Kihaya (Bahaya) there is a saying, “Omwana taba womoi,” which translates as “A child belongs not to one parent or home.”
- Kijita (Wajita) has the proverb, “Omwana ni wa bhone,” meaning regardless of a child’s biological parents, its upbringing belongs to the community.
- In Swahili, the proverb “Asiye funzwa na mamae hufunzwa na ulimwengu” means roughly the same: “Whomsoever is not taught by the mother will be taught with the world.”