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The Hidden Village

Updated: Jul 14, 2020

Throughout the last 12 years of raising my children, there has been only a very little time when at least one of them was not attending a day-care centre or preschool. I have always enjoyed getting to know the ladies looking after my kids. In several cases, a long-lasting friendship has developed that continues well beyond the walls of the preschool. I’ve watched many of these lovely girls (yes they all seem to be female) grow and make a family of their own. It really is lovely to see a “day-care worker” pregnant.

I would look at them and think to myself, “there is no doubt at all, that you have this covered. You love my child to bits, and I have seen some of the children you work with, surely, you know everything there is to know about feeding, settling, sleep, nappies, tantrums and have fined tuned your negotiation skills so well that could potentially put our secret service to shame!”

Yet I have seen a trend start to form. These girls are not the most thriving mums I have seen.

Just the other week, I was having a conversation with a friend who has worked in childcare for many years. She has three children of her own, spaced out with a nice 5-year gap between each child. The conversation went on to have her contemplating having a 4th baby, closer to the 3rd.

“But I really don’t think I could handle two close together” she stated.

The other lady in the conversation, (believing what I used to believe about the parenting abilities of someone who has years of day-care experience) said, “but you work in day-care! Surely you would be used to that.”

I started to wonder why being responsible for approximately 15 small children is easier than two small children of your own? Is it the huge money that these wonderful day-care workers are getting paid? (Let us not go into that one now…) Is it the fact that they get to go home at the end of an 8-hour shift? Or could it be because they are not alone?

If you observe the social structure in a day-care setting, you may see they replicate a traditional village situation. You have many women all together sharing the load. There are children aplenty, but when they have the support of four other women around them, that huge number of children is not an issue.

In hearing the stories of aboriginal elders, you learn that mothering was not done by one individual, instead, it is done by a family of women.

The feeding of a baby is not even the sole responsibly of the birth mother - any female in the family with milk will happily put a hungry infant to their breast.

Can you imagine feeling absolutely exhausted with sore nipples and a hungry baby, and for another family member to pick up your baby, cure its hunger with breast milk and let you rest? It certainly paints the picture of a relaxing, supported time.

With the modern luxuries we enjoy today, I wouldn’t expect anyone to step straight back into hunter-gather times to find more peace in our mothering.

We can certainly learn a lot from the village structures of ours and other ancestors. Or even from the village structures, such as a day-care centre, that sneak into our day to day without us even noticing.

Build your village and welcome everyone to it!

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