Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Mommy Stands Alone

We had a really good playdate with a friend of Anna's from school. We're all off this week for spring break. When the mom offered to have us over I jumped at the chance - a childproof house full of new and unique toys, and adult conversation - we're there!

The kids played well together, and the conversation was great. Amy told me about this woman she works with who is an early childhood specialist. She has a theory about babies and the crazy way our society supports them. It goes like this: evolution wise, our species has been set for the past 1,000 years. At that time, people lived in groups of 40-50, with adults and children of different ages. So when a newborn arrives, it should be into this setting. If a new mother is at home alone with her baby all day, every day, isolated, she feels extreme stress because she doesn't have the support of this large group. This expert feels most mommy shock and post-partum depression is from the "fight or flight response" that so many women feel from being isolated with their babies. They can't rest, they can't eat, they can't sleep, because they feel physiologically threatened. 100 years ago, people at least lived in groups of 8-10, and even 50 years ago family units were larger. In the last 20 years, the family unit has been reduced to a single family, with the mommy responsible for making the family work and the daddy responsible for making the finances possible. And, as much as our society pays lip service to the value of raising a family, it doesn't really support women as they try to rear the next generation.

These thoughts certainly resonated with me, and reminded me of my sister's sentiments after she had twins. She'd call me on the phone and sigh, "I wish you just lived down the street. I just don't think we were meant to do this alone." Clearly not. I guess that's why so many of us are reaching our in this brave new world across the internet to find a friend with similar experiences and frustrations.


get2eric said...

That's interesting Jenn, 50 years ago we didn't have air transport like we do now. Pres Eisenhower cemented (good word) interstate highways, and cars were relatively new. People generally lived in the town where they were born.
I know that you're Nana had lots of help with her 7 children from family members. I could walk to every one of my relative's house in the town in 5 minutes or less. "

Love you
PS. Your Mom had 2 kids and we lived in Queens NYC with no family around to help. After we moved to Dallas and your younger sister was born Mommy had 3 kids 5 yrs or younger. Thank goodness Cinda helped a lot. Mommy dod a great job.

Amy said...

Hi this is the mom of that playdate. I think the evolutionary stuff has been ingrained in us as a species for more like MILLIONS of years. You can check out that early parenting expert's website at Hillary Clinton was right when she said "It takes a village to raise a child"!