Once upon a time, families of the neighborhood looked out for one another’s kids; sent a casserole down the street when their neighbor was down on their luck; called upon the mama with a new baby; and confidently sent their kids down the block for a cup of sugar from the neighbor. The days of Beverly Cleary characters are long gone. Lately parenting seems to be done more and more in isolation. Yet there is another shift occurring. Some quiet rumblings. A suggestion that the last couple of decades of parenting without the village may be lonely and counterproductive. There’s even been a few disgruntled mentionings of the term “self care” and a countermovement toward a new conceptualization— “community care.”
The Rise of Self Care
At what point did we start talking about and using the term “self care?” I don’t know, honestly, but in my own musings it likely evolved from the same culture where parents are often expected to be well-informed, self-sufficient, and able to juggle all of their responsibilities flawlessly. In addition, they should not be irritable, exhausted, lonely and/or prone to feelings of inadequacy. If they are experiencing any of these “symptoms” then the commonplace recommendation is more self care because they must not be doing it enough and, of course, they should be able to juggle that, too!
Parenting is hard, Dear Ones. I don’t know anyone who will argue with that! Exhaustion may even be a normal response to such an important job. Yet, I’m of the mindset that it could be a little easier. If only we still truly had the village mentality (and not the mentality where we just say “it takes a village” but then do little to actually embody this). And if we could also just be honest with each other about just how often we’re actually struggling to juggle all of it.
When someone is struggling and admitting to the exhaustion, I know I’ve certainly been guilty of asking things like, “when’s the last time you did something for yourself?” as if to suggest that feeling this way demands a remedy and that the solution is in their hands alone. Is encouraging self care wrong? No. In fact, doing right by oneself is VERY important. But it’s also not totally adequate.
The Fall of Self Care
Some say the emphasis on self care remains neglectful of that aforementioned self. By focusing solely on self care as the remedy, we fail to put some responsibility on the villagers as essential to supporting the mama, the papa, the caregiver, etc. Some say that stressing self care is shaming. Blaming even. Because it can sometimes seem to suggest that if you’re exhausted, irritable, feeling inadequate and can’t live up to your standards…. it’s both your fault and you should fix it. That you should have been able to do something to negate all of those feelings. Something for yourself. Some self care.
Yet, where are the villagers?
Where is the community to also care for the caregiver?
By falling back on recommending self care to others does that give us an excuse not to step up and be the villager?
At Intuition Wellness Center we specialize in integrated services and wellness programs for children, young adults and families and supporting other like-minded professionals in doing good work. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.