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If it ‘takes a village’ to raise a child, why do we shame each other when we get help?

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If it takes a village to raise a child, why do we shame each other when we get help?

I have been mulling over this question for a while. In the age of social media, Colorado moms are expected to project a perfect facade or being able to do it all and these expectations leave many of us feeling guilty and overwhelmed.

These sentiments from Jen Hatmaker nail it:

Here is part of the problem, girls: we’ve been sold a bill of goods. Back in the day, women didn’t run themselves ragged trying to achieve some impressively developed life in eight different categories. No one constructed fairytale childhoods for their spawn, developed an innate set of personal talents, fostered a stimulating and world-changing career, created stunning homes and yardscapes, provided homemade food for every meal (locally sourced, of course), kept all marriage fires burning, sustained meaningful relationships in various environments, carved out plenty of time for “self-care,” served neighbors/church/world, and maintained a fulfilling, active relationship with Jesus our Lord and Savior. You can’t balance that job description. Listen to me: No one can pull this off. No one is pulling this off. The women who seem to ride this unicorn only display the best parts of their stories. Trust me. No one can fragment her time and attention into this many segments.

Can I get a hallelujah and amen?  I was recently listening to a podcast that referenced The Postnatal Depletion Cure: A Complete Guide to Rebuilding Your Health and Reclaiming Your Energy for Mothers of Newborns, Toddlers and Young Children. If a new mom isn’t allowed to fully recover from the demanding requirements of pregnancy and birth, the after-effects can last for years. Western society is the only civilization that leaves Mom to heal and do it all on her own; entire villages and civilizations are built around helping each other heal and how to support Mom and child. Guaranteed, “It takes a village” is not referring to the current structure to raise a child.

If it takes a village to raise a child, why do we shame each other when we get help?

Outsource the Unimportant

Confession time: I’ve done it. During my kids’ early years, I was drowning in diapers, sleep deprivation and trying to run a business with a messy house. I had a stay-at-home mom acquaintance who hired a nanny and housekeeper, and I remember jealously thinking, “Why bother even being a mom if she’s not going to do any of the work?”

I didn’t know anything about her situation, her mental health or what kind of a mother she was. I based my assumptions that being a good mother means sacrificing myself and doing it all. Years later, I was talking to a friend who was an accomplished musician and a wonderful mother and I asked how she juggled everything. “I don’t, I outsource the unimportant,” she replied. “I had so many balls in the air that I felt like I was dropping everything. I had to set priorities and my children, husband and practice time were more important. I kicked the guilt aside, hired a housekeeper and feel like a weight has been lifted. I can focus on what matters.”

 A lot of us don’t have the resources to hire help but all of us do have the ability to ask for help and get creative in the process.

My colicky daughter did not sleep the first year of her life and subsequently, neither did I (I’m convinced that sleep deprivation would be the worst torture technique at Guantanamo Bay). After months of this (and a near nervous breakdown), we devised a schedule where my husband would stay with her from 8 p.m-midnight so I could get a four-hour block of sleep. Doesn’t sound like much? After sleeping in 15-minute increments, it was a lifesaver and now that she’s a teenager, I can’t get her to wake up.  My mother-in-law pitched in to help every Wednesday and for years, I regularly did babysitting co-ops where I could swap hours with other moms so I could work, nap, exercise or run errands. 

Don’t Covet the Wig

Shonda Rhimes shares a story about herself in high school when all she wanted was for her hair to look like Whitney Houston’s. She cried, struggled, and could never get it to look exactly right. Giving up hours upon hours of her life to a curling iron, hairspray, and burnt fingertips she constantly felt defeated. Years later while sitting in a hair salon, her stylist laughed and said, you know that was just a wig, right?”

She sat shaken as she thought of all the wasted time, gallons of wasted hairspray, and feelings of failure and insecurity she experienced every morning.

If she had known, if she had just been told. She just didn’t have the wig!

“Successful and powerful mothers who keep silent about how they take care of their homes and families, pretending they have clones of themselves are making all the other moms ‘get out their curling irons.'”

Don’t have the wig? Me neither and that’s OK to embrace life in all its messiness. If you have the wig, don’t be ashamed to talk about it. Let other moms know there is no shame in getting help. We would never want other moms puling out their curling irons to think we’re doing it all on our own.

Let’s be the village to support and love one another on this journey. 

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