Saturday, 31 July 2010

Little families in little boxes

Yesterday I had the privilege of someone sharing their dream with me about living in community with another family and caring for each other. It was wonderful to hear someone else thinking along the same lines as I do but actually doing it! It was also great to be able to affirm her dream when so many people had reacted negatively to it because it doesn't fit the model of security and success which our society promotes. I couldn't help thinking how sad it is that when someone suggests sharing with others that as adults we see it as such a risky business. Do we all believe the world is such a dangerous and awful place that we better just look after our own? Or do we fear losing all the comforts and possessions we have been persuaded we need? Are we so frightened of living in places where people are not exactly like us and leave us to our own little world?

Since becoming a Mum I have realised how healthy dependence on others is. I need community like I need air. I have only coped and enjoyed motherhood and parenting because of the love and support of my friends and family. Being alone in our little box trying to do life just feels all wrong. My husband and I often talk about how difficult it is to cook for two and how there really is always enough for more and we often feel that we should invite others round to share it because it feels unnatural to be sitting at the table just us.

Part of the reason I feel that way is because I look to other people for security and that certainly isn't too healthy. But also I wonder whether the idea that myself and my husband should be building a little kingdom of our own is also not healthy either. How must stress is caused to people each weekend as they list the jobs around the house which need doing and the big but ordinary tasks if life that we all have to do but end up doing alone, such as cleaning out the garage (this has been on our list for about 6 months). It makes so much more sense to share resources and share the labour that daily life requires.

One of my daily challenges is getting the washing hung out. Ella ends up covered in mud and chicken poo if she comes outside with me and until she was walking it had to be nap time for me to get the load on the line, by which time there often wasn't enough time for it to dry. And I couldn't take a nap. Now this may sound a minor issue but as any Mum will attest, laundry backlog is a nightmare and little dilemmas like this cause stress. But if there were other Mums around we could share the load, watch the kids while another Mum hung out the washing or vice versa. Seems so simple but so impossible with the way we live right now.

You may have seen the t.v programme Big Love, about a Mormon family practising polygamy. Now I am certainly not in favour of sharing my hubby with any other woman, but having more women around to share the workload and for support would be wonderful. In all our striving for independence and the white picket fence to keep others out have we lost something that is actually essential to be able to live well as people? Are we all just chasing after nothing and in the process losing what life is supposed to be about.

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