Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Collaboration Parenting

It takes a village to raise a child. Have you ever heard that phrase and wondered what it meant? Whenever i hear it i imagine a child running down the street and some random neighbor getting off of their porch and calling out- hey you- what are you doing and then giving them a good stern talking to. In my image the kid is always doing something they shouldn't be doing!

Sometimes I long for that kind of a world- one where as a parent i don't feel like i have to be on hyperparenting duty 24/7 but could let my girls go outside and play and know that if there are issues someone else will deal with them. Of course i also would like ice cream to grow on trees but I don't think i'm going to get either.

Today's society is not like that- it is hard enough to parent within your own home and even within your mind it is hard to figure out exactly what we as a parent is supposed to DO exactly. We as parents are being tossed to and fro by new books, studies and philosophies on parenting. We have lost the sense of community and even for those of us lucky enough to have biological family close by or a church family that we are close to- most of us still feel like we are parenting on a little island. Every once in a while a plane flies overhead and a package of value is sent down to help us but at the end of the day we are alone.

And that is a scary thing.

But what can we do about it?

Before my first child was born I read every book I could get my hands on. They tended to be either so vague "it is important the child feels loved" or so extreme "if you put your child down to pee it will give them separation anxiety and they will fail at relationships" that I wound up more confused than when I started. (There are notable exceptions like "Blessings of a Skinned Knee")

I love being a mom- it truly completes me. But there have been times (and probably will still be many more times) when I struggle with it. And I desperately need to rely on the "it takes a village to raise a child" mentality. The good news is- i've found it.

But not in the way you might think and to be honest not in a way i've ever really admitted! When I got engaged I had no clue how to plan a wedding but I had about 5 months to do do (in another country no less!) so I did what I do when I don't know where to start- I google it! I found an online wedding forum (which no longer exists) and learned that there are a LOT of women who know alot more than I do and seem to have an endless passion for picking table colors and helping collaborate on wedding favor ideas. One in particular stood out and she mentioned that she was also part of a parenting forum. I though that was strange considering she was not a parent or even pregnant - she wasn't even married yet! But I tucked this little kernel of knowledge away and a few months after getting married myself I found myself registering and logging onto this forum.

That was Nov 11 2004. Since then i've had three children and I've "met" some of the most amazing inspiring mammas and have learned so very much. The group split apart a few times and some people have been "voted off the island" and some have chosen to move on- but there are probably about 60 of us who form something we lovingly call "camp".

Camp is now our private online forum for mammas (and our one token pappa) and it gives me the sounding board and the space to really figure out what parenting is and what being a mom means to me. I don't like to admit that some of the people i respect the most i've never even met in person .

What I've learned in the last 5 + years is that the best work is often a result of collaboration. That when you work with others- give and get honest feedback - you can grow in a non linear fashion. Being a parent is not like any other job you'll ever do- because it requires not only that you develop the human capacity of living breathing growing changing little blessing- but because it requires that you dig deep within yourself and develop your own human capacity. Because that is what life is about- and that is what makes children such a blessing- not what we give them but what we discover through them and uncover as our love for them defines us.

I challenge each of you in the next week to reach out to another parent and talk about what you're dealing it- don't ask for advice but have a give and take honest conversation about it- and maybe what you're dealing with is technical like trying to get angelina to stop wetting the bed or maybe it is profound like coming to terms with the label of stay at home mom now that your maternity leave is over even if you never had any intentions of going back to work.

1 comment:

  1. Great perspective, and I am there also seemingly on my own little island. Well except for a group of momma's who've adopted 2-10 kids with special needs. They help with those things that other people cannot even fathom as far as parenting. I, like you, have read seemingly every parenting book out there. I don't know that any of them helped a stinkin bit except to confuse me. I like bits of each, but there just isn't a book that can describe your particular situation. I wish we had a close community or even family near, but since we don't, it's nice to have this world wide web of people also trying to do the best by their children, with which we can bounce ideas off of.