By Haylee Hackenberg
“It takes a village” – words that have been repeated to me on several occasions since becoming a mother. I agree. With every ounce of my being, I agree with this statement. The problem is, how does one acquire such a village? For those of us without close family (geographically, or otherwise), this is an issue that I have found to be personally exasperated by motherhood. Used to the daily interactions of paid work, and semi-regular brunches and catch ups over a wine or two, I found the stark contrast of my new life at home incredibly lonely. It wasn’t long before I was lucky enough to make some fantastic local friends with small children of similar age to my own. But with all of us in the same messy, wonderful, shockingly difficult stage of life that is new motherhood, catch ups were infrequent and riddled with interruption.
It is so incredibly validated to be heard, really heard by others experiencing similar joys and challenges to our own but relying on those same people to help us when we need it is just not viable.
With frequency, I asked my girlfriends who were struggling to adjust to their new lives: what do you need? How can I help? What can I do? But the truth was, I had nothing left to give. Similarly, those same girlfriends extended offers of help to me, but I knew that in accepting, I would be depleting from their already scant resources.
It’s not from lack of trying, goodness knows we all wanted nothing more than to help each other, and had it been necessary (as it sometimes was), we all, at various times, found ourselves giving more than we had. You might wonder, why we needed help at all.
I mean, haven’t women been caring for children for centuries without complaining?
Yes Karen, you sure did raise 6 kids with no help from anyone. I commend you for it.
Jokes aside, more than 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression. Postnatal anxiety is just as common, and many parents experience both anxiety and depression at the same time.