For many countries, Mother's Day is fast approaching. It's a day to celebrate motherhood; to feel pampered and appreciated.
Yet for many of us who are making our way through the early years of this great adventure, the concepts of pampering and appreciation sound like lost promises from ancient times.
Because it's hard to feel pampered when your hair is matted with baby sick.
And it's difficult to feel appreciated when your three year old has screamed "NO!" in your face for the eleven thousandth time this hour.
Really, what do we want for Mother's Day? What do we hope for? A little less spit up? A little less threenager attitude? A bath? A surprise mail order gift basket from our BFF...full of ingredients for that elusive breakfast in bed?
Photo credit: GourmetGiftBaskets.com
All of the above would be more than welcome by many moms (*waves*) but there is also something slightly less tangible on the mighty Wish List.
Last week, for instance, I asked my friend what she was hoping her first Mother's Day would have in store for her. Her answer?
"I want a village."
I secretly wished that she'd longed for a pedicure, because this answer that she gave me felt unmeetable.
And it's true, everywhere I turn, lately, I am hearing the same line from so many moms.
"I wish we had a village..."
I live in a quaint English village. We have a church, a post office, a red telephone box and a village green...yet this isn't the village that these moms are longing for.
Because even here, families are separated and fragmented by bricks, mortar and schedules. The expectation is disconnect and independence. And in truth, I'm noticing a real crisis for so many moms.
I'm talking about moms like myself. Moms who are in the thick of those early years. Moms who are dealing with spit-up and diapers and threenager attitudes.
I'm talking about moms who once had professional careers and can now go days or even weeks without sustaining a meaningful conversation with another adult.
I'm talking about the moms who go out to work to put food on the table and are constantly juggling work with family life.
I'm talking about the moms who are so bravely facing their own demons and rising up against their own pasts and finding a better way.
But it's so hard to trust our instincts when our instincts are exhausted by sleep deprivation and near-crushed by society's never-ending judgements.
Because we are judged if we don't go out to paid work and we are judged if we do.
We are judged if our children are loud and outgoing and we are judged if they are quiet and sensitive.
We are judged if we enrol our children in public school and we are judged if we choose to homeschool or unschool or forest school or whatever the hell else options there are out there...
Because according to society, our children are a direct extension of ourselves.
I'm calling it, you guys. I'm calling it right now.
Our children are their own selves. They come into this world whole. They might be loud or quiet. They might learn to use the potty at 1 or at 3. Who in the world is even keeping check?
As mothers, our job is to love those babies. To give them roots and wings, simultaneously. And what that looks like for each and every dyad is quintessentially different. Because we are all individuals. We are, each and every one of us, unique.
I firmly believe that if this imaginary village became a reality, we would be so much more generous to ourselves. I believe that we would see, first hand, just how different our babies and children are. And more importantly, we would accept and embrace these differences. Not only this, but we would also hear, first hand, about just how similar our struggles are as mothers. And we would find solidarity through these connections. We would find comfort through shared experiences.
So many of us - myself included - reach out through technology to connect with moms who are walking this road beside us. And it feels good to find a glimmer of that lost village, yet deep down, we still long for the real thing. I find myself wishing so often, that my long-distance friends could emigrate en mass and come and stay with me.
The paradox is, creating a village takes time and energy...those two elusive ideals that so many of us are lacking. So in the mean time, we must look to gestures. And in this way, I am strangely thankful for days like Mother's Day.
Because Mother's Day might be a multi-million dollar industry, but it can be so much more than just a Hallmark Holiday if we let it. It's a day that we are reminded to pamper and appreciate, to be pampered and appreciated.
And while I may not be able to build a village-like community overnight, I guess breakfast in bed will be a lovely substitute for now.
This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.