We all know the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ but who these days actually has a village? Author C.J Schneider didn’t when she suffered from post-natal depression after the birth of her third child. She felt isolated and alone, after moving back to live in Canada, and when the sleep-deprivation kicked in, she didn’t have a support network to help her through it.
I was so excited to hear about Mothers of the Village: Why All Moms Need the Support of a Motherhood Community and How to Find It for Yourself And it’s everything I’d hoped for. It echoes all those feelings I’ve had since I became a mother 4 years ago.
Like C.J Schneider I never thought too consciously about building a community for myself until my daughter was born. I’ve always been writing, and by necessity that means spending lots of time alone. However being alone by myself writing and drinking tea is a lot different to being alone all day with a child.
As soon as my daughter was born I craved time with other mothers. I’d moved to Switzerland from Vietnam just before I got pregnant, so all my community building had to start from scratch. Luckily I met lots of friendly, open mums who were in a similar position. i also trained to be a Hand in Hand parenting instructor and started listening partnerships, which helped me so much with the emotional side of parenting.
However it never felt like enough, and C.J Schneider explains why. The human species isn’t actually designed to live in little boxes all separated from each other. In less affluent societies, and in the past, we lived much more closely with other people. When we became mothers we would have the support of grandmothers and aunties close by. We would be able to divide up the childcare, and the cooking, and the cleaning between us rather than thinking we had to do it all, which is actually impossible.
This is a validating book for anyone who ever struggles with guilt about not being able to do it all. As C.J says, ‘One woman was never meant to replace a whole village.’ Through my work as a Hand in Hand parenting instructor, I’ve listened to many mothers and their struggles. Not a single one of us has it all together, and it’s not our fault.
This beautifully written book has some really good advice on how to build your own village. Some of it is common sense, like arranging babysitting swaps, and asking for help when you need it. But it goes a little deeper than that, giving helpful advice on how to help others but retain your own boundaries, and how to be close to extended family despite the challenges. My favourite chapter was the one titled ‘Develop Your Inner Mystic,’ which is about rising above our imperfect lives, and discovering our true path.
The book is vitally important and a must-read because it helps us out of our isolation. When you read it you realise that it isn’t just you that craves more human connection, and a more supportive society. We all do.
One thing that struck me while reading this is that although it is often mothers who take on this community-building role this isn’t always the case. For example we are friends with a family with two dads. One of the dads travels for work a lot, so the other dad was the stay at home parent when their children were young. He is actually one of the most kind and community-minded parents I know. We don’t have a car, and taxis are very expensive in Switzerland, so he told us that if there was ever a reason we needed a lift somewhere we could call him at any time of day or night.
This is the kind of book that you’ll not only want to read but buy copies for all your mum (or dad!) friends. Then together we can set about rebuilding the village.
You can buy the book here – Mothers of the Village
And if you’d like to know how Hand in Hand parenting helps parents build their village check out The secret weapon every parent needs to know about
This is the first of a new series of book reviews on my blog. I’ll be reviewing books that help make our lives better as parents. If you’ve read anything good recently that’s helped you feel less stressed, and more fulfilled as parent then do get in touch as I love to hear good recommendations!