“THAT didn’t exist when I had kids that age!”
Modern parents now have it so much better now, because Information + Amazon Prime = More ease and safety than ever before, right?
Mais non! Even with handy tech, clean products and boatloads of information, parenting is more stressful than ever.
1) Parenting today can be isolating. Even introverts pine for the proverbial Village. The Village is where you can take a shower, use the restroom and get dressed without freaking out on the inside that something bad is going to happen to your children. If you live in The Village, your aunt or cousin is over and she is happily playing with them. The Village is where children can walk down the street to your neighbor’s house without panic ensuing and police being called. You are friends and/or family with your neighbors and everybody watches out for everybody else. You work, cook, and eat together, learn from each other, laugh, connect, walk to the local market and all the while we are watching out for each other’s children.
I know that The Village wouldn’t be utopia, there would be gossip, hurt feelings sometimes, personal space infringed upon, but as a young mom desperate for more hands on deck and a greater sense of community that you don’t have to commute to, it would be WORTH IT!
I pine for the Village and ache for it as if I am missing a part of my own body. Oh, I do have solid mom friends! Most of them are a drive away and have their own busy schedules. Oh, I take my kids to music classes, baby gyms and we do fun things! Yes, but I am planning out and driving to each activity with all of the kerfuffle that comes with each click of the car seat, every bag, every sippy cup packed, and I pay a pretty penny for many of their extra curricular activities.
Much of the time I am alone with my children at the house wishing that a group of my friends and family would just magically drop by to tell us that they are moving to a nearby cul-de-sac, but that hasn’t happened yet.
2) Gadgets don’t make you forever happy, but they do make you less creative. My kids don’t want me to be on the phone or computer for very long. When they play with toy phones they don’t want to be on them very long either. What they want is for me to interact with them and play games. When we are at home, they have a lot of things to play with, but everything eventually gets boring and they want us to look them in the eyes and hang out with them again. The more things I have around me to give them, the less creative I need to be to keep them busy, plus they tend to be more sedentary. Let’s be real, even though some toys can be pedagogical, it’s not like they are learning to code playing with the Fisher Price battery operated ‘tablet.’ They just like the beeping and lit-up display.
Put me in an environment where I have less stuff and suddenly I get creative. The ceramic dish that the sugar packets are in at the restaurant quickly becomes a boat that travels around the table and it’s hilarious when the boat bonks into my head. If we are at a home that doesn’t have toys then oven mitts become puppets. If we are waiting for the car to get serviced I suddenly remember how to make a t-shirt with a piece of paper like I did in Jr. High. They aren’t whining because I’m doing something interesting and interacting with them.
I’m not saying that toys aren’t awesome, and we have so many at home for them to play with. It’s just that they don’t satisfy as much as personal interaction and a good tickle-fest.
3) TMI TMI TMI TMI TMI
In the ‘ignorance is bliss’ category, the parents who came before us got to enjoy giving their children dinner and shampooing their hair without being privy to each and every ingredient and industrial practice. I want our children eat responsiblly-sourced, organic lovely foods and use shampoo that has no PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate or Tetrasodium EDTA lalalalalalalalalalala etc. etc. etc. in their products, truly, but there is an information overload here that has added stress and worry to my life!
I’m thrilled that producers now know that people care about what goes into their products and what the consequences are of even manufacturing their wares, but I’m drowning in a sea of information about how everything SHOULD be.
Even though I am happy that there are fantastic parenting books out there, information and advice does not replace community. I don’t want to add another parenting book to my list right now. I want someone who really cares about my children to be here to read to my them while I am still on my hands and knees cleaning up the lunch mess.
This of course brings us back to point #1 and instead of going on and on and giving YOU information overload, I’ll close with this. I don’t have the whole Village, but I do have a solid and loving family; my sisters and parents are worth the commute. They are intentional with our children and very close with them.
We are also blessed to have some incredibly good neighbors. Donna from right next door comes over and she makes my children feel special. She walks in the door and lightens the mood when my toddler is fussy with big gestures and silly questions, and then shows her colorful necklace to the younger one. She blows bubbles while I have a break to get dressed and breathe. She’ll play with Emil so I can pick up Valita from school without having to put him in the car seat AGAIN. Even if you don’t have the whole Village, I wish for all mamas to have their own “Doda Donna” and I hope that like her, I’ll represent at least a small part of The Village by being a non-paid, friendly face and at-the-ready extra set of hands for young moms wherever I live for the rest of my life!