Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Family-Unfriendly Nation

Autumn shared an awesome article with me on Facebook: an interview with Sharon Lerner, the author of The War on Moms, a book about the difficulties women face as they try to raise children in a country that is unfriendly toward families.

A lot of the ideas seem to echo Naomi Wolf's in Misconceptions: Truths, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood.

It's overwhelming, really, trying to think about how to make the transition into motherhood a smoother one. It seems like it's going to be difficult on so many fronts. First, it's simply going to be exhausting. The constant feedings, the diaper changes, the interrupted sleep--and the overarching idea that life now revolves around one tiny baby.

And then there's the decision to make around childcare. Does one of us stay home? If yes, how do we subsist on one income?

And how do Matt and I continue to cultivate our relationship with each other, separate from the baby?

And how do I continue to connect with and cultivate myself beyond the baby?

Although answers to these questions are nowhere near being clear to me, it is becoming increasingly apparent that surrounding oneself with a supportive community is key. But what does that look like for two people who live so far away from their families? How do you cultivate a "village" of support apart from your biological, extended families?

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Roxanne said...

Does this also deal with family leave in our country? We're one of the few countries in this world that do not guarantee some sort of paid maternity/paternity leave. It's a sad thing, and I hope more attention is called to this soon.

Meg said...

My husband and I are thinking about all these things too. We've bought a duplex with friends and are sharing a garden and other things, hoping to share childcare as well when that time comes. So we're a little two-couple mini village.

I'm enjoying following your blog!

Erin said...

It certainly is husband and I have only had one dinner out since our daughter was born six months ago. There are people who would love to watch her, but since he works all the time (the reason why I get to stay home), he doesn't want to spend his free time away from our baby. I don't think our relationship has suffered but it certainly has changed- now we spend time together between when the baby goes to sleep and when we do. Since I am breastfeeding and he works 6 days per week, I'm the one who gets up with her during the night and I have to work hard not to resent my husband's 8+ hours each night. I think the first 6 months are a blur, but life slowly gets back to a new normal after that. Believe me, it is all worth it. Please let me know if I can help in any way!

Marina said...

If I didn't have a family of friends nearby who have repeatedly and vehemently said they want to help raise my future kids, we'd probably be moving across the country to be closer to my husband's family. I can't imagine raising kids without that kind of support.

On the other hand, I grew up in what felt like a very tight-knit community, and my parents didn't know any of the other families before I was born. My mom met another mom through a pregnancy exercise class, who met some other moms at the local Unitarian Universalist society, who all started having regular park days with their toddlers which other parents heard about...

I guess any community takes deliberate action to build, you know? Whether it's deliberately changing your life to be nearer to community, or deliberately taking action to create community where you are. I kind of like it that way. :)

Environmental Soul said...

I know the feeling of growing up away from your family. My parents moved to Colorado and all of my family is in Vermont. My mom's best friend was always my aunt and her parents I considered my adopted grandparents. We would spend holidays together and made lots of traditions. It was nice to have them as "family" growing up so far away from my real family.

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