Thursday, October 31, 2013

Modern Motherhood and a dream of 1802

Sometimes I  wish it was 1802

I do, I kind of wish it was 1802, or 1900 something.

It’s just that sometimes I feel so alone in this mothering gig. Those women of the past had such a hard life, physically hard with so much to do to keep a family. I don’t have that, heck I probably wouldn’t survive with my woeful lack of domestic ability. What those women had is a female network, village, connection.

I’m sure it’s partially a romanticized notion looking through the glasses of history. It seems rare to see a picture or read a story of these women coming into mothering alone. They were in communities where there mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmas were all in the same town, if not block or house. It was not uncommon for multiple generations to live together. Whether it was always easy or good is beside the point, just having other women who have gone through what you are going through in your presence offers a comfort. There is a knowledge that comes from having that network of women. You learn to cook and clean how to care for and raise children.

Modern society has taken that community of women spread them far and wide.

When I had my first child I had no one around me that could talk me through it, offer comfort and support. I had two friends with babies and they were both several hundred miles away. My mom and I do not have a close relationship and due to a car accident she has memory problems. I was thrown into the deep end of the mothering pool, and there I drowned.

I have four kids,  I am an “experienced” mother and I still feel alone and like I have no idea what I am doing.

These are the thoughts that are rushing in my head as I lay in bed for a late afternoon nursing and feeding. I am a wash in guilt because I just snapped at the too big kids. Too tired and under calories to respond in the patience that they needed. I cry and I wonder would it be easier if all I had to do is mother. If family stepped in to help with the older kids, to cook and clean. If there was someone around to help. To say you know my child screamed and clawed when I nursed too this is what I did.

I have that in bits and pieces.

A mother in law who comes and helps with the kids and magically gets them to clean up. Friends online who offer advice on changing positions for nursing. It just feels like something is missing.

In Meg Meeker’s book in the chapter on friendship she tells the story of a mother whose husband is dying of cancer and the friend who swoops in and takes care of the house. She comes in and takes care of the kids and cooks meals and does everything so the wife can be with her dying husband. I cringe. Who would be there for us? Who would swoop in if I couldn’t be there?

I have so many friends but I feel close to so few and I wonder, is this modern motherhood or is it me. I suppose it’s both. I suppose this is a lot of hormones talking, but it still makes me wonder. While life in the 1800’s or 1900’s was surely harder, I still kind of long for that circle of women to surround me, help me and hold me up.

Another one from the drafts, this was actually written in 2011 when I had my third. I still kind of feel this way today. I wonder if the online world doesn't contribute to it...

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