My husband tells me that according to a book that he has just read that monkeys raise their young not always knowing who is who, they look after each child like it was their child. That years ago before the age of agriculture patriarchy didn’t exist and that the need for one’s own child was irrelevant, that men looked after other children as if they were their own. That children were raised in troupes or flocks and that every child was everyone’s child. I am not entirely sure how I would feel about that now. Although, I love the idea of children being raised in groups and there being other parents around, I think I would need to know that our children were our children.
A while back we met up with five other unschooling/homeschooling families. It was great to be in community. Our tall friend, who was one of the fathers in the group said to our small son, who was grappling with something ‘You know what, sometimes mixing with a group can be challenging’ and our son tilted his ear towards him as we walked down the street. Our son was hearing wise words from a man forty years his senior. I like it when other people that I know and trust help raise our children.
I question at what point did going it alone ever make sense or make us happy? Were we really ever meant to take on so much without support? In the unschooling world, community can be like gold dust. We can be hard to find, sometimes unschoolers are roaming the earth and having experiences like these two worldschoolers Lainie Liberti and her son Miro, who have just done a Ted talk have a look. In this talk they also express the extreme need for community especially for Lainie’s son Miro. They brought community to them by setting up Project World School.
I remember when I was in South Africa and we had three children under the age of three, my community was small, it was my lovely husband and a beautiful woman who helped me with everything. It wasn’t just everything that she physically did, that was great too but it was the fact that she was there, another sister helping me. We laughed a lot and became very close friends. She was a huge part of my community in those early days of child rearing, those bleary nights when I never knew which twin was which and whom I had fed or not. Anthony and I used to walk around the house at night jiggling one child or another. In the mornings Cindy would be there a smiling warm face always ready to laugh. She came from a family of ten children and I asked her how her mother coped and she said, she had help, they had a nanny called Patrick. The fact that the nanny was called Patrick always makes me smile and it warms my heart as my friends beautiful mother was looking after herself very well. It is something that I know for myself that can get lost along the way of child rearing.
This is a very interesting blog written by Beth Berry about Motherhood and being without a village… have a look, I feel she raises some very interesting and important points.
I think connection is such an important thing Johann Hari talks about the importance of community in this short animated video which speaks about addiction. He talks about rat park, and how the rats that when given the choice between a normal water bottle and a water bottle that is laced with heroine, if they are in community they are less likely to drink the heroine fueled bottle. However it is a very different story if they are on their own.
I am not sipping at heroine laced water here but I am learning to accept that community like calcium is in our beautiful human bones and that embracing connection with others is really what it is all about in this short and beautiful life.
(I love the picture above as succulents always seem to be in a group together you rarely see them on their own…)