Support

I’m sick.

I’m not too sure what with, it could be a cold, it could be a really bad hayfever attack, or it could even be swine flu (but I doubt it). I woke up this morning feeling like I couldn’t possibly get myself out of bed, let alone look after my very active 2 year old daughter.

So I called my mum.

“Mama, I’m sick, where are you?”

“I’ll be there in 5.”

Now don’t get me wrong, my mum is not the type to let me wallow in misery while she does everything for me. But just her presence makes a world of difference.

I think I’m pretty lucky. Even though my parents are divorced, I would always tell anyone who asked that I had 3 parents; my Mum, my Nani (Grandma) and my Nana (Grandpa). My aunties would sleep over every other week with my cousins, and we basically grew up in as close to a tribe as you can get in suburban Sydney. I saw babies being born and raised, and even got some hands on practice that would help when it was my turn years later.

After giving birth to my daughter, I came home. My mum was there every day to make sure I ate well, and didn’t have to do anything apart from concentrate on feeding/changing/burping/feeding her grand-daughter. My mother in law slept over to help me settle the baby at night, and to make sure I got my rest. Both my husband’s family and my own were shocked that I didn’t want to move to my mum’s for the first 6 weeks, because that’s just what a woman was supposed to do when she had a baby.

I, on the other hand, thought I knew better. I thought that because I was the mother I was supposed to do everything myself. I didn’t need all that help, even though I enjoyed it. I was super woman and could do the dishes while breastfeeding a 2 week old. When my daughter woke screaming with hunger 20 minutes later, I realised I needed to put my feet up and concentrate on her latch rather than the state of my house.

Another example; I wanted my daughter to sleep in a cot in my room. My mum suggested that I should put her straight into my bed, as it would make getting up at night easier. 3 weeks later, after coming to terms with the fact that the night wakings weren’t going to go away, I realised the wisdom of her words and have slept next to my daughter ever since.

My mum still comes over every day. She can’t go long without seeing her grandaughter. And I’m so happy that they have such a close bond, just like I had with my own grandmother. When we’re all together, I think of how special it is that 4 generations of family women are in the same place at the same time.

I wonder how other mothers cope without a family support network. Do their husbands do more at home? Do they have friends to help them when they need a break? Or do they put their children in day care to get some time out? Or do they just shoulder the responsibility of raising children on their own?

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Capricious on August 23, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Great post! I shudder to think of raising a child without a support network. I too was an independant first timer, thinking that I would be able to handle it all. And for a few weeks it worked, but when I got sick I realised that it does take a village to raise a child and thank goodness I realised when I did.

    Yesterday we threw my sons first birthday, and again I thought I would be able to do it on my own, but as the guests were due to arrive I had a crying baby in my arms and again I had to call on my family and friends for support. And as they helped me to ice and decorate his cake I realised that this is the way it should be- women looking out for each other and supporting each other to become the best Mums we can.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Capricious on August 23, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Oh, and I meant to say- I hope you are feeling better soon!

    Reply

  3. Posted by MummyTiff on August 24, 2009 at 3:30 am

    I hope you’re feeling better soon too!

    I am blessed to be surrounded by a village whilst raising my children and I have NO idea how I would do it otherwise. Like your LO mine see their grandparents (on my side) every day however we go to their house rather than them coming to ours. We have our brekkie at home and a play/walk/park visit (if I’m not working early) and then we cruise over, hang out and play, have some lunch, and the kids go down for their nap whlist I chew the fat with my folks. I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.

    I think sometimes too women put too high expectations on themselves. I remember when my sister was pregnant with her first having her look at me almost as if I was sponging off my parents and announcing that she would have far too much to do in her own home everyday and wouldn’t be at my parents house all the time when her baby arrived. Really? Funny how I now see her almost everyday too! She had this expectation of herself fighting the good fight on her own like she had failed if she asked the village to rally around………thankfully she realised that that was not the case quite early int eh piece.

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  4. Posted by Nordicbabe on August 24, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    I’m green … with envy but hey the way you make your bed the saying goes..Sometimes I wonder what ever was I thinking, moving away from my husbands support network but you know you do survive but it is a struggle especially when anyone is sick and when my husband is away for work it gets harder again…I do speak to my mum alot (she lives in Sweden) for part of the year twice a day sometimes and we are really good friends and I don’t think that we would have been this close if we lived in the same country! We only see eachother every 2 years or so and then it is really intense! I know that she wish she could get to know her grandchildren better and that is something I just have to live with.

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  5. I’m with Nordicbabe 😦 I found being on my own in the early days wasn’t too bad, and even now it’s not the day to day things that are a problem. But almost 4 years of doing it on our own has worn me down. I don’t have the patience and even little things will set me off, because I never get to recharge. I think part of it is also personality – I have a feeling that even if I lived in a city I’d still be a loner. It’s quite possible my kids actually see more of their relatives in concentrated bursts than they would if they were just down the road.

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  6. Feeling much better now, thanks ladies!

    I was thinking about my grandmother while I was writing that post. She came to Australia 40 years ago with 4 children, and no family or friends in the entire country. But 20 years later her children grew up and had children and now we have that amazing family network.
    There is a (small) down side too though! Too many opinions on everything and anything, and some compromise of privacy!

    Reply

  7. Posted by angel_one on September 6, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    OMG!! you got soooooooo much family support – not only in the early days but also now!!

    we left home, then 9 mths after our 1st was born we left town (the town both of us were born in, and lived in for our entire lives – with our families!!), today 5 yrs on we have added 3 new addittions (youngest being 8mths old), we are still living away from family and some how (not sure how) but some how i have survived!! 🙂 – dh works his 5-5 job monday to friday, comes home and well yeah hes helpful – at times but at times is worse than the children! lol. my kids have stayed home with me since day 1 – had a few stays in the child care system – and with out fail every time i cant handle the quite and need them home again! (note i didnt mention the real reason is i miss them so much! lol) – dd is now at school (and shes at an ages where i am soooooooooo thanful for the school days!, ds1 has just started 2 days of kindy a week and yes its great but its also weird, having the house go from 3 very noisy boys to suddenly 2 not so noisy boys (take one away and suddenly the noise decreases a few decibles! lol) is unreal – i had forgotton how quickly house work can be done with out children!! put the little boys to bed and i have 3-4 hrs of quiet before school pick ups!! lol

    Im not going to in any way say this is an easy life – being so far away from the family, but its a life we have chosen and we deal with it! But what tops the whole situation off is…. im not only a SAHM to 4 – im also a external Uni student!!! – i like to think i just cant be bored, so i have filled my life with lots of things to keep me busy !

    But what i wouldnt give to have my mummy pop round to help me out on a sick day!!!!

    Reply

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