Friday, February 19, 2010

we were not meant to mother this way

Have you read this book? It was recommended to me a couple of years ago and it changed my life. It is a feminist take on an old biblical story of a woman named Dinah and her life's journey traveling the desert with her family and in the end finding her own salvation through midwifery. It is a powerful story for sure.

However, this is not the part that changed my life. What opened my eyes was how she and her 4 mothers lived in a tribe. Now, I'm not a polygamist, nor is that the lifestyle for me. However, although these four women shared a husband, they also shared the role of mothering. They cooked together, ate together, raised children together, breastfed each others children and bled together, once a month in the Red Tent while the men fended for themselves for 3 days.

I could say so much about this book but what really stuck out to me was that we as a human species were not meant to mother alone. This modern idea of us all sequestered into our own little homes, cooking, cleaning, child rearing, partner not how we were meant to mother. That is why it can be so isolating, overwhelming, lonely, frustrating need I go on?

Women all over the world live in community, women in my own community live in community. Taking care of the children is not just one woman's job, but the whole villages job (insert cliche here). The bottom line is that we need each other, we need support, we need encouragement we need someone to come over and fold our laundry or take our kids to the park. The trouble is, now that we are so accustomed to this individualistic way of living, it can feel impossible to ask for help. Sure you might have done it when your baby was a month old, but now that your child is 2 years old, surely you should be able to take care of things on your own. No you shouldn't. We aren't superwomen with the abilities to facilitate a craft project, make a pot roast, clean the bathroom and fold the laundry in one fell swoop. We are still human and we need the support of others.

I greatly encourage you to read this book. And then I greatly encourage you to call a friend and ask for help, with whatever you need. And if you don't need help right now, offer to fold someone else's laundry. You will make their day.


Melodie said...

I just read The Red Tent a few months ago for the first time. I totally agree with you.

Anonymous said...

I've heard this is an excellent book, I'll have to check it out.