It was early February 2012, my neighbor called mid-afternoon asking if I would mind if she dropped off a chicken pot pie. She was making one for her family’s dinner and had extra that didn’t freeze well. It was like manna from heaven and I graciously accepted. She knew Littles was brand new, but she had no idea the struggle I was in the midst of. For one night, I felt like a good mom, because my family had a hot, nutritious dinner.
For us these dinners came for months from neighbors, friends, and co-workers. This food didn’t just nourish our bodies. It fed our souls and reminded us that we were cared for beyond measure.
#9 – She learns from the wolves (and understands that it’s our culture that has the problem and not her)
Wolves live in community, packs. After a mother wolf delivers her litter of pups, she stays in the den for weeks as they grow, open their eyes, and learn to walk. Just like our friends, other members of the wolf pack bring the mother food for her survival while she herself cannot hunt. As the pups get bigger, pack members take turns bringing the pups regurgitated food. Once the pups are about 6 months old they are mature and can head out hunting. Often times at this point in her pups’ lives, the mother would will take time away from the pack to recover from her birth as the community cares for her pups.
Can you imagine people’s reactions if a new mom who had weaned her baby said she was going to take a relaxing vacation somewhere tropical by herself to recharge?
“Aren’t you going to miss your child?”
“It must be nice to be able to just take a break from your family like that.”
“I could never do that. I’d feel too guilty.”
“Who is going to take care of your baby?”
“If you didn’t want to raise your child why did you have him/her?”
“You are going to miss important milestones.”
These are real things people are saying to real moms. Whether they are planning on heading out for girls’ night, have nanny help a several hours a week, or are going to work. Well-intentioned and just-plain-mean people say things like this! Culturally it is taboo to care for ourselves. The expectation is that by choosing to become a mother, one relinquishes the right to be anything more. Motherhood is a very important job, but each of us brings so much more to the world than mothering.
A few weeks ago when I was in New York City, I listened to a panel of executives from consumer products companies talk about the Millennial parent. The Millennial generation is an important one to companies as it is the largest since the Baby Boomers and is coming into the work force and will quickly move into peak consumption years. I heard many interesting insights, but a key theme was that Millennials want to be good parents. Marketing is geared towards helping parents feel good about their decisions and ensuring they know they are doing what is best for their kids. We are bombarded with messages about how we can be good parents. Sometimes we hold on to these messages so tightly to validate our choices that it comes at the expense of others.
Nobody is saying we need to take care of ourselves to be good moms or dads. We don’t hear society, media, or advertising that says we should do what is best for our situation, because everybody’s situations are different. Not many supporters exist for our sabbatical from the wolf pack to recover ourselves.
Cotton Babies sponsored the Warrior Mom Conference and they are telling us we are good parents. The message isn’t what one might expect. The obvious would be that if you cloth diaper (buy their products), you are a good mom. Nope, it is simply, “You are one good mom” or “You are one good dad.”
I’m here to say, if you need a break. It’s okay to take it. If you have the resources to go on a tropical escape by yourself, do it! (Might you have room to pack me in your suitcase?) If not, do something that is an escape for you. Find the time. Find someone to watch your child(ren). Find money in the budget for a splurge. Treat yourself.
This is the ninth post in a series inspired by one of my favorite sessions of the Warrior Mom Conference (#WarriorMomCon). Kate Kripke presented on Thriving After PMAD (Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders) where she asked all of us, “What does a thriving mother do?” Her list of ten blew me away and they aren’t just for moms with PMADs… they are for everybody!