I don't need to convince you how hard you work as a mom. I don't need to convince the people in your life you work hard. Moms work hard. Really hard.
And yet we often feel like we aren't doing enough.
This past fall I took a trip to Charlotte, NC to attend a writers workshop. I had some time before the workshop started so I went and visited a plantation home. The tour guide started in the main entry and room by room showed the sitting room, study, dining room and kitchen. Interspersed with interesting tidbits was the periodic mention of where one of the workers of the house lived "here is where the cook slept." We went upstairs, touring the family living quarters. There was a boys room and a girls room as well as a room for each of the school teachers. My favorite part was going out of the house and then down below to the cellar kitchen. It was a large stone cellar the full length of the house with two big beautiful hearths. The tour guide showed where the irons were warmed by the hearth to iron the clothes and the big kettles for warming up food. The large work table that had a string above where the herbs were taken down and crushed in a mortar and pestle. She described the day to day routines of the head cook and her staff.
I left the tour enjoying the beauty of the home, fascinated by the intricacies of life in another time period. But what struck me the most was how much man power it took to keep the house and family running. This was a wealthier home, in a different time period, but the reality struck me. It takes a lot of work to run a home.
This shouldn't surprise me. I thought about the man power it takes in our modern day to get three meals cooked per day, to wash all the clothes, to educate our kids, to keep our homes clean, to accomplish work outside the home. It is a lot of work.
The second thing that struck me was the amount of help this home had. I recognize this was a wealthy home, in a time of slavery, but it reminded me of a conversation with my mom when she stayed with us for a few weeks after our boys were born. She told me how her great aunt would stay with her grandma for months at a time to help when her kids were young. And this was normal during that time. It was normal for family members who were able to come and stay for extended periods of time because it was assumed a mom needed help. This mindset struck a chord - it was assumed she needed help.
What has happened? How did our mindset shift from assuming a mom needs help to this race and competition to see who can juggle the most and still look like she has it together? Who is the fastest back to work, who is the fastest back to their pre pregnancy body. Who is the fastest, best, and doing it all by herself. Where did this become the new ideal? On top of an already exhausting task of motherhood, this frantic race of going it alone has proven it is not us at our ideal. And we know it. It's killing our joy, it's killing our sense of worth, it's killing our ability to listen to our bodies and our kids. And the saddest part is as moms we think we are failing.
You are not a failure, dear mom.
You are not a failure.
Later in the weekend on my trip to Charlotte, one of the sessions was about creating a team. The idea was presented to a room of writers, but I started thinking about it within the context of a home. What I had seen at the plantation home was a team accomplishing the work. What I heard my mom talk about was adding a member to a family team. This same idea is confirmed statistically. One of the biggest factors in decreasing postpartum depression for a mom is a support network. Moms who have help thrive.
We need a mom team.
For some this idea of a mom team may be easy as we can pinpoint a handful of people who are our support, who are our team. For others of us we may feel very alone in this journey of motherhood.
Obviously I am not advocating for going back to a time of slavery. And I know the idea of having someone live in our homes for extended periods of time is unrealistic in most scenarios. But, I do think the idea of creating a mom team is doable in our modern age. There are a lot of creative and ingenious methods, tools and ideas at our disposal. Even if we don't immediately see a support of people around us, I do think we can create a team to help with the load. In the coming weeks I will be writing about how to create a mom team.
You are not a failure, dear mom. You do not need to do all and be all. Let's be moms who cheer each other on to create a team of support.
Who is on your mom team?