Now? We’re being forced to create all of that for ourselves within a society that has physically and energetically restructured itself around a whole new set of priorities. It’s a profits before people model, which threatens the wellbeing of nearly everything we mothers are wired to protect.
Though I’m optimistic and hopeful by nature, this dilemma has left me discouraged many times over the years. How does an entire nation of mothers shift a storyline this massive while individually and collectively weakened by the absence of the very thing we so desperately need?
Major cultural shifts in prioritization, structure, and power are clearly in order (and I do believe they’re happening, however chaotically). In the meantime, each of us has a choice to make:
We can buy into, make peace with, and conform to the way things are, or exercise the freedoms our foremothers and fathers won for us and commit to doing our unique and essential part in creating change, starting within us and working our way out.
You and I aren’t likely to experience what it’s like to raise children in an actual village, but that’s okay. That’s not what this generation is about. This generation is about waking up to who we really are and what we really want, and resetting society’s sails accordingly.
Playing your part in the re-villaging of our culture starts with being wholly, unapologetically, courageously YOU. Here are a few tangible steps you can take whenever you’re ready:
- Get really clear on one thing: the fact that you’re struggling is not a reflection of your inadequacies, but the unnatural cultural circumstances you’re living within.
- Own and honor your needs. Most mothers are walking around with several deeply unmet needs of their own while focusing almost exclusively on the needs of others. This is precisely the thing that keeps us from gaining traction and improving our circumstances, both individually and collectively.
- Practice vulnerability. Rich, safe, authentic connection is essential for thriving. Cultivating this quality of connection takes courage, and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. What you want most exists on the other side of that initial awkward conversation or embarrassing introduction.
- Own your strengths. What makes you feel strong and fully alive? What lights you up and gives you energy just thinking about it? Who would you be to your village if you had one? Tapping into your strengths and engaging them is one of the greatest ways to attract the kinds of people you want into your life, bless and inspire others, and build a sense of community in ways that fill rather than drain you.
- Become an integral part of something. Whether it’s a knitting group, dance troupe, church, kayaking club, or homeschool collective, commit to growing community around one area of your life that enlivens you or fills a need. Use the connections you cultivate within this community to practice showing up bravely and authentically and asking for what you need, be it support, resources, or encouragement.
- Do your part and ONLY your part. Though it’s tempting to fill our lives to the brim with commitments that make a difference, doing so only further disempowers us. Read Essentialism if you struggle with this one.
- Learn self-love and self-compassion. In a culture of “never enough” it is essential that we forge healthy relationships with ourselves in order to be able to fend off the many messages hitting us about who we’re meant to be and what makes us worthy of happiness and love. In fact, I see self-love in action as the greatest gift our generation of mothers could possibly give to the mothers of tomorrow.
- Speak your truth. Even when you’re terrified. Even if it makes you the bravest one in the room.
- Imagine a new way. Where we’re headed looks nothing like where we’ve come from. Creating the kind of future we want requires envisioning that future and believing a new way to be possible. Get specific and think big. What do you want?
I’ve tasted village life:
- During college, when my tribe of idealists and dreamers was all within walking distance and we’d yet to subscribe to “adult” social rules that told us what what was most important.
- When my young adult cousins lived with us for several months at a time. I’ve never enjoyed motherhood more than those days when I knew that the needs of the children, home, and its individuals were joyfully shared among eager, loving souls.
- On retreat with other women, when each of us was reminded of how very similar our struggles, and how very desperate we all feel for consistent support, everyday interaction, healing, lightness, and ease.
- At outdoor festivals, when the village is recreated, if only for a weekend of camping, and everyone settles into a communal way, cooperative rhythm, and lighter state of being.
- During the time I spent with Mayan mothers in impoverished, rural Mexico. There I witnessed, firsthand, the blessings made possible by the presence of a tribe, however disadvantaged.
My soul was fed deeply during those time periods. Every time I get a taste of what we’re missing, I become strengthened and hopeful again. THAT is the energy needed to create change. THAT is what the powers that be don’t want us to feel.
I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know this:
We’re supposed to be crying, celebrating, falling down, and rising together.
We’re supposed to have grandmothers and aunts and neighbors and cousins sharing the everyday moments, guiding us, and helping us see the sacredness in the insanity.
We’re supposed to be nurtured for months postpartum, cared for when we’re sick, held while we mourn, and supported during challenging transitions.
And our children are supposed to cradled and allowed to grow within the social structures WE deem best for them.
Find yourself, then find your people. Or do it the other way around. Just don’t settle. Don’t ever settle for a way of life created by those who don’t honor your soul and cherish your babies.
Change-making right alongside you, Beth Berry