Our friend and former PWPL blogger has a post about sleep and children here. Read it and weep. I think all of this would be more livable and do-able with better community. With the aunties, the uncles, the grandmothers, the grandfathers, adult children, etc. around and about. She alludes to this:
The isolation of the modern homemaker is forcing us to be everything to everyone in our family, without the help of a village of older mothers, aunts and grandparents whose sleepless nights are far and gone. Our children can no longer busy themselves with little neighbours, they need us to entertain, stimulate and socialize them while the neighbours are in daycare and preschool from dawn until dusk.
We don’t have community because we are obsessed with the office working world. The 9-5, 8-6, 7-7 days we do. Seriously, many of us happily work 12-14 hour days away from our families, our children and think absolutely nothing of it. I’m talking mothers and fathers here, lest anyone think I’m blaming women. I’m not. That said, responsibility is on mothers too, because if we all decide en masse that we won’t prioritize parenting, I’m not quite sure we can expect anyone else, the people who didn’t bond with a baby over nine months of pregnancy, to do exactly that.
I am trying to think more about this. The way we do life. The business expectations. I admit what Veronique describes here sounds like a personal hell to me. My personality changes when I don’t sleep. I become depressed. My outlook shifts. What was previously difficult but possible becomes too difficult and impossible, and by the way, I’m a useless loser whom God has forsaken.
It happens rather quickly, actually, and soon, without sleep, I begin to eat too much, exercise too little, and everything spirals. I think I could cope with sleepless nights (due to children, or otherwise) IF I HAD FAMILY AND FRIENDS AROUND. But that doesn’t exist anymore, so we face a problem in our society. A couple years back, I had a rare instance of a protracted fever, sore throat, ear ache, etc. I lived alone, was single, and for about a week, saw no one. People who are home during the days for whatever reason are alone.
So great is my own commitment to work, work, work, that recently, when I found I had the opportunity to be at my sister’s home with my nieces for one week, I couldn’t give up on it. I prioritize those kids to the extent that I spent the week there, yes. But I could have taken a vacation, I could have taken unpaid leave. It would have been fine in the grand scheme of life–what am I trying to prove, and to who? But I was so worried about work, that mentally, I couldn’t. I took an hour here or there, that’s all.
Once upon a time, I reorganized my schedule to help a mom care for new born twins. This was only possible because I work at the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada where you can do that kind of thing and no one thinks it is terribly weird–they appreciate it. But I still needed to make up the hours. If we skip three hours a week, we need to make up three hours a week and back to our scheduled lives we go.
I don’t like this picture. It starts with the devaluing of parenting–people think kids parent themselves and they then further think it’s strange when accommodations need to be made in the business world. It extends to the devaluing of mothering, how hard it is. Why aren’t you working? What do you actually DO all day? those kind of questions. And it finishes when we expect fancy business cards and job titles to be a success in this world.