Friday, July 19, 2013

Mothers need Mothers

I am a firm believer in the need for women to have community - and that no other time of life is that more important than the early years of motherhood.

So it was interesting to read this:

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well-being.  Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes.  Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings?  Rarely.
How true is this? Women need to come together to talk about their lives, men talk about their lives when they happen to be together.

I joined NMAA (now ABA) when my first child was 10 weeks old, which I reckon was about 50 weeks too late, but better late than never! I was linked into a new mothers group through the local child health centre a few weeks before that. Through those two groups, I formed many friendships that continue to this day, nearly thirty years later.

So I have strongly encouraged my daughter to connect with her groups now she is a mother. And because she has grown up seeing the need for mothers to meet with mothers, she took little encouragement. She is involved in two ABA groups - mine and hers - plus her new mums group, as well as groups who meet because of shared interests such as baby-wearing or gentle parenting.

Where it gets really magic is that I am also connected with many of these same groups. No longer going to paid work three days a week has allowed me the time to engage in supporting mothers across the community and our shared approach to mothering means we now share many of the same friends. So my role as Granny is extending beyond my one little grandchild and being shared in a wider network.

As a mother who practised many of the techniques these mothers have chosen, it reassures them to know my babies who were breastfed, baby-worn, bed sharers grew beyond all those things. That fussy eaters, poor sleepers and unsettled babies move on. That the parenting choices they make for their families are valid, sustainable and positive!

In a society that not only thrusts new mothers back into the paid work-force too soon but also sees grandmothers, aunts and older sisters there as well, making connections with mothers of all stages can be a challenge. And as much as I am committed to the benefits of social media for connection, there is nothing like face-to-face interaction for mothers AND their children.

Too often these days, society is corralled into segregated spaces - day care followed by school is then followed by the workplace and - eventually - aged care units.Increasingly, each age group is isolated from the life stages that come before and after it, removing the traditional learning and support structure communities depend upon.

I think it is really important that we actively engage all age groups with each other, but especially that the wisdom of motherhood is passed across generations, as it always has, and that mothers have opportunities to come together, as they always should.

1 comment:

Justjen said...

I agree, women have always been there for other women. I still have friends I met through Kindy and school and our kids have grown up together. We've leaned on each other many times, still do xx