I’ve just been listening to the ‘Guilt Free Mummy’ podcast . The episode is called ‘Where the story begins – meet Kellie’ and towards the end of the recording, Laura and Kellie talk about why we mums don’t tell others that we’re not coping. This got me thinking….
Western society is incredibly ambitious and goal oriented. Look at our schools, sports, businesses, houses, and see the focus on achievement. We want more, we want the best, and we want it now. But this striving leaves casualties and asking for help is one of these. Individual achievement is celebrated as ‘sweetening the deal’ – if you achieve highly and do it on your own then you are a ‘success’. Asking for help in this environment is considered a weakness, and maybe any success you achieve isn’t really yours because you needed help. But parenting shouldn’t be an individual project. There’s an old proverb that says ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ – but we’ve forgotten the village. Parenting requires resources and other people should be part of that. Other adults to share the sleeplessness and cooking, elders to impart wisdom and respect, other parents to share parenting tips, and other children to learn social skills with.
Centuries of patriarchy have also contributed to this situation. (No, this is not a male-bashing article. Just a reflection on history.) Think about it….for thousands of years women had no power. They couldn’t own land, they didn’t work, they didn’t vote, and we were actually considered the property of our men. Our fathers would arrange marriages that either set us up for a good life, or ensured the security of our family, our tribe, our kingdom.
We were brought up to be ‘good wife material’ and a good wife DEFINITELY had to bear children and keep a clean house. In some cultures, women could be discarded by their husbands if they didn’t fulfil their wifely duties or didn’t bear children, especially male children.
Woven into this ‘good wife material’ set up, we naturally had to be the best option around. To secure a good marriage, we had to be better than all the other women in the area. We have been trained to compete with other women our age – to seek flaws in others and highlight them, to draw attention to our beauty and strengths (via make up, fashion, and home skills). There is no way that a woman could say ‘I’m not feeling good’ or ‘I’m not coping’ - she ran the risk of being disowned. We have been trained for centuries to ‘keep quiet, get on with it, and be better than others around you’ in order to be secure.
It is our time to undo centuries of programming. Our vulnerability is not the weakness it was perceived to be. By being vulnerable and talking about the real nature of mothering, we learn we are all facing the same challenges and share ways to flourish. We are creating a future where mothers will be respected and cared for in the manner they should be – as the crucial creators and nurturers of the future generations. We need tribes for ourselves and our children and it excites me to hear women speaking out, and supporting each other to do this.