Without even realizing it, many of us are grieving the absence of community for parents and children in our society.
On my son’s first day of preschool…
I did not have a lunch for him! Wednesday is supposed to be pizza day, but apparently that is not starting till next week. I pulled one together from thin air and dropped it off for him. When I arrived at the school, I gazed in the window to my son’s classroom to watch him. He stood by the door gazing outside, and occasionally looking around. He looked lost. I felt tears well up in my eyes. I wanted to run to him and hold him and take him with me. Even though I love my job, I wanted to take me baby and be with him. I felt profound sadness about the loss of community that we cannot see.
As the days and weeks pass, it does not get any easier to drop him off at school. He clings to me for dear life. I want to stay with him, but I have to be inside of the time structure of the world. Meaning, I have to get to work, on time. In the school they talk to us about practicing separation for the children and so they can learn to trust that their parents will always come back. I have tried that idea on, but it does not feel natural. In those early years, we should be practicing connection, not separation.
A taste of community…
When I attended Dance Camp, Birch and I camped with dear friends. They have two children who are close in age to Birch. We, the parents, collaborated with ease and fluidity to care for our collective three children. All of the children feel safe and comfortable with one another and all of the parents. This made it easeful for the parents to care for ourselves. I even went to the bathroom by myself a few times, a feat for a mother!
Birch’s school is wonderful and the teachers are fabulous. They are worthy of our trust. Yet it feels unnatural to drop him off with a room full of strangers, especially when we have to peel him off of my crying. When I leave him like this, I feel profound sadness. The ridiculousness of the way our societal structure has evolved to create the need for this reality is unbalanced and toxic.
The experience at Dance Camp was an unnatural microcosm of what used to be. We lived tribally, with parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, friends and lovers. Now we live in our respective, separate, isolated homes, without the structure or support we actually need to raise children and care for ourselves.
How is the lack of community affecting our health and well-being?
Nowadays many women have bladder or uterine prolapses, cystoceles and rectoceles. Prolapse is just one example of a health condition that might arise in connection with our emotional experience of parenting without adequate community. The energy of prolapsed organs is all about a lack of support. I work with many women who have an organ prolapse. In their stories they often speak of feeling exhausted and that they are lacking adequate support. So many women, parents and families struggle with depression and anxiety. I think these feelings stem from this notion that we are subconsciously grieving the absence of community that we cannot see because we never had it but desperately need it.
How do we get support?
To gain more semblance of community, seek out local groups and like-minded parents. I am not saying this is an easy fix or complete solution to all of the feelings, but I am offering some options to support more connection and community. In the Northampton area, MotherWoman is a great resource for newly postpartum mothers and the Parents Center for parents of children from birth to age 5. In my personal experience of parenting, I have intentionally cultivated close friendships with parents of children close in age with my son. These relationships have been foundational for us as a family, and yet, the grieving of the absence of community or a village in the tribal living sense, still exists.
To support your health and well-being that may be suffering as a result of lack of support, please visit my Resources. We are blessed in the Pioneer Valley to have an abundance of skilled practitioners in a variety of modalities.