Recently I was asked to participate in a book tour for Mothers of the Village
, by author C.J. Schneider. Reading this book was perfect timing, and her words were a comfort and a blessing for me personally. "The research is clear: since the beginning of womankind, mothering has been a communal effort. . . So many mothers feel like something is out of joint, something is missing, and maybe the truth is that we are all just missing each other." Keep reading below!
In Mothers of the Village
, Schneider details through historical and personal accounts why women need to associate with other women. Women, mothers, grandmothers - we need each other! As she described her journey through early marriage and motherhood, she lovingly relates stories of women that influenced her to grow and mature. The lessons she learned from women all around the world made a lasting impact on her development as a person and mother.
Schneider describes close mother groups contrasted with bouts of isolation as she moved around the world with her small family, and in her hindsight wisdom she teaches about the importance of close-knit circles of supportive women. This is where her book almost moved me to tears. I need to expand my circle!
Something about today's modern women movement lends towards isolation. The "I can do it on my own" ideology can make women feel as if they cannot reach out for help or share their struggles. Admittedly, I have those thoughts too. Last week I was super sick. The kids and I all shared a stomach bug that wiped us out. By Thursday night, the kids seemed to be over the sickness, but I was a wreck. I couldn't keep anything in my stomach, not even water. As I laid on the bathroom floor puking my guts out at 1:00am, I wondered who I could possibly ask for help. Most of my friends already have kids, and who would want to expose their healthy family to my kids in order for me to rest? My friends with no children work during the day, so I couldn't ask them either. My husband wanted to stay home with me, but he had a full load at work; plus he was training new employees that week. Laying on the bathroom floor, sick to my stomach, with tears down my cheek, I felt very alone. The next day, I mothered from my bed. Luckily, the kids were content to play around the house in their pajamas as I migrated between my bed and the couch to watch them. During nap time, I opened Mothers of the Village
, and I felt her words tug at my heart, "I need open my struggles up to a circle."
Why is hard for mothers to open and share their struggles with the world? I tend to keep my struggles inward, even though I'm sure my bad days are similar to all the other women I associate with. We all have bad days, and yet we hold it together alone, and we deny other people the opportunity to help us. Is it fear of judgement? Is it fear of mommy-shaming? Schneider talks about these issues in her book. Women need their close circles; they need the comfort that comes from opening up and sharing their lives with family and friends who are probably in the same boat of alone-ness.
During my bouts of pregnancy morning sickness, I kept to myself and suffered in silence. If I had asked, I know other women would have babysat my kids for an hour or two, but I closed myself off. When I shared some of my tips for parenting through morning sickness
, one close friends seemed sad and said she wished she had known I had felt so crummy. Immediately, I felt guilty that I had denied her loving service, simply by never telling her my truth. I missed the opportunity for her to serve me, and her generous spirit would have comforted me during those rough days.
In Mothers of the Village
, Schneider talks about historical groups of women that worked together and lived communally. Generations of women taught each other, learned from each other, and raised their children together in Mayan milpas, Iroquois longhouses, and other tribal bands. The families stayed close together, and the strong bonds between families helped women feel confident and helped children grow strong. Schneider also related examples from Filipino and Mexican cultures where the families sacrificed together and showed love through service to each other. Family support should be a part of the child-rearing experience, Schneider seems to assert, but where distance separates families, close friends are necessary.
This review cannot contain all the gems of wisdom in Mothers of the Village
, yet it's message is clear. Women need each other. Let down your walls of fear, and open up to each other. Serve your friends in order to know them, and accept their loving service in return. Parenting is a blessing and a joy, but during the difficult times, reach out for comfort from your circle of support. A village is necessary to nurture a happy mother, and when mothers are confident, families succeed.
C. J. Schneider lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, three sweet
children, a wild imagination, and a distaste for all things laundry.
Though she had many adventures before motherhood—exploring and
working in Asia, Europe, and Africa—her greatest and most challenging
venture has been discovering the wonder of family and building a
village of friends and fellow moms.
To learn more about this family focused publishing house, visit familius.com.
Labels: Emotional Health, Parenting