I’ve just come home from our book club meet and I realise the enormous surge of pent up adrenaline that we ladies harbour. The children are safely tucked away in bed for the night and we go about our business of arriving at the assigned person’s house with book or kindle tucked under our arms. We politely place down the book and it is never referred to again. Instead we tear through a months worth of pent up blaahhh. And that’s all it is. More and more blah, but this time it’s adult blah and we can’t get enough of it. Every topic under the sun is discussed, it’s like we’ve been starved of any deep conversation or female company for too long and we are all trying to get our two cents worth in, to know that we, indeed, are worth something to the communal melting pot of ideas which we occasionally thinly veil as arriving from the pages of a book but mostly they are thoughts that have been laying in our minds for a good chunk of time and now we have the space to through them in the air and see where they fall. We pretend to discuss the books context but what we are really discussing is far more sinister, perverse and beautiful than a book could possibly be. We are discussing our independence, our freedom, our resentment, our sufferings, our desires, our lost thoughts, our lost libidos and our forever tired physics. We are all mums and we bring to the table not so much tales about our children or our partners but stories about us. It’s like we are discovering who we are again, we are talking about things that make us tick, sometimes about our dreams, our phobias, our ticks, our likes and dislikes. We are discovering our spirits as they have become stymied through the process of parenting, especially of young children with their boundless energy eluding us. At these meetings we become us again, independent individuals who can hold the floor for a couple of hours without interruptions and without, strangely enough, much judgement. Here’s a toast to purging with like-minded friends.
What I’m reading
When my first child was born I was given a book entitled “Parenting for a Peaceful World” by Robin Grille, 2005. I thought this was an apt title for a mum with two boys who love to tussle and shove each other, sometimes, relentlessly. So recently I started to dip into it and what I found was a deeply harrowing world for children from the ice age up until recent times. Grille does say that the evolution of parenting means today we favour a kinder approach but we are still marred by old fashioned ideas . Infanticide was common between all classes and males were the preferred sex. So much for my tranquil read into parenting bliss!
The mindset of the time is mirrored in comments/writings of revered philosophers, for example, Plato wrote “Any children born to women over 40 or men over 55 should be violently disposed of, and every family should raise only one son, while other viable sons should be adopted out to others” (p.28). And another great, Aristotle, called them “dwarfs with bad memories”. Although I find the later comical, the former scenario is still happening in some pockets of the world today.
How many of us feel the absolute guilt (if only fleetingly), (but overwhelmingly), of child-rearing I wonder? I personally am against smacking and believe it’s unnecessary but after speaking with my grandmother who is all for it, I have attempted it a few times and mostly out of frustration. It didn’t help us one bit and it was an act of violence as, obviously, I’m physically stronger and he was bewildered. We’re vulnerable as mothers, tired and emotional and as Grille says “the old adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is particularly true when we commit to meeting the child’s emotional needs.”I think it’s very important for carers/parents to take a break when we need to and it’s vital for new parents to foster a supportive network. I’m pleased to say I think we’re getting there with mother’s groups and play groups and community early health centres available across the board. I felt well supported in my pregnancy and postnatally, especially whilst living in the city and to a lesser extent living in this rural/residential area, but yet there is support. As Grille says: ” To a large extent, it is the responsibility of every society to support parents and their children.” This is why I took my grandmother’s advise, but in reality we have evolved from that generations’ parenting style and rightly so. We apparently are moving away from authoritarian ‘socialising mode’ of parenting and embracing the ‘helping mode’ or ‘natural parenting’. “What motivates helping mode parents is the desire to allow and support the natural unfolding of each child’s unique individuality”. He writes about the more concerted effort that child rearing requires, especially in their earlier years and this is reassuring me that I’m on the right track in devoting all of my energy to my children at this stage in their lives.
As I’ve said I’ve just dipped into the book but it’s the actual stages of the child’s early development that I will seek out next. I will keep you posted.