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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Wallace, re-mom Founder

Finish the Sentence: "It Takes a Village..."




Motherhood is a loaded word. It comes with a lot of things - responsibilities, identities, connotations. One of the key things re-mom wishes it came with, was an inherent relationship with "help".


Once upon a time, it "took a village to raise a child". People today still use this phrase, but I argue that it's outdated in today's modern society. Where exactly is this village? For the few who are lucky enough, they have an abundance of readily available support to lean on...but I want to highlight a very common situation in motherhood, regarding help: mothers with the ability to receive help, but don't.


Today's modern (Western) society encourages individualism. The "mom boss", the "boss babe", the "supermom"...I could go on and on about how damaging these titles can be. Why? Because it promotes the "do it all" mentality and rewards women for it. "Doing it all" is not a badge of honour, but rather a warning sign that perhaps help is not being received when it can be. Individualistic ideals are the perfect breeding ground for competition, judgement, control, and perfectionism...all of which are characteristics found in mothers who have challenges with accepting and receiving help. The ability to recognize you need help, acknowledge and accept it, and actually seek and receive it, is a challenging process for those who have a hard time with being vulnerable and letting go of control.


"Doing it all" is not a badge of honour, but rather a warning sign that perhaps help is not being received when it can be.

Let's go a little further into it.


verywellmind.com describes Individualistic Cultures as cultures that emphasize autonomy, independence, self-sufficiency, uniqueness and personal achievement. This type of culture encourages the development of a specific type of attitude in the individuals immersed in that culture; one of the common attitudes include the notion that "being dependent upon others is often considered shameful or embarrassing". This makes sense for why mothers can be so resistant to help.


Shame and guilt are quiet themes of modern motherhood. With an abundance of information around us on "the right way to do things", what motherhood should look like, what our bodies should look like postpartum; combined with the added pressure of raising families as if we don't have careers, growing careers as if we don't have families, and being default parents to name a few, mothers have a spectacular amount of pressure placed on them to do it all, do it right, with a smile on our faces, by ourselves. Knowingly or not, this sets us up to operate in a way where we not only feel we shouldn't ask for help, but we don't know how....or worse yet, we don't even realize we aren't asking for it when we can be.


mothers have a spectacular amount of pressure placed on them to do it all, do it right, with a smile on our faces, by ourselves.

If you're reading this, and it's starting to make you feel uncomfortable, that's a good sign. Perhaps a lightbulb has gone off, and you realize you've subscribed to this societal norm and ideal of motherhood as the "do it all" woman. But don't worry, I've got you: here are three powerful exercises you can do to help you pivot away from an island, and move toward a village:


  1. How vulnerable am I willing to be? Accepting and receiving help must start with the acknowledgement and readiness to do so. This means, you must a) be aware you need help, and b) be okay with getting it. This requires a level of vulnerability, a "look in the mirror" moment, that is often incredibly difficult to do. Engage a trusted friend, a therapist, or a coach to help you do this work. It's really, really hard to be brutally honest with yourself, especially when (and because) you're not used to admitting you need help. Start with asking yourself the basics: Am I happy? Why or why not? What am I doing that I don't love or want to be doing? What can I let go of, that would increase my happiness? What can I let go of, that would not reduce my level of happiness?

  2. Where am I playing it safe? You must determine where you are operating in your safe zone. By safe zone, I am referring to how we live our lives in predictable ways (because predictability = safety). What routines are you living in that you haven't challenged to be better, more efficient, make you happier, give you back more time freedom, give you back more joy? What are you accepting "as is", because it's something you've "always done"? Safe and comfortable does not mean it's good for you. In fact, oftentimes what is safe and comfortable is precisely what holds us back from the growth and change that we actually want.

  3. What do I control in my day to day life, and do I have to control it? This is a big one for moms. Individualistic culture encourages us to develop incredibly high, and often unrealistic, expectations of ourselves as mothers. This can result in controlling as much as possible in our motherhood experience so that it not only rewards our belief system of the "do it all mom", but also makes us feel safe because we can predict the outcome (see point #2). So in being vulnerable, take a hard look at all that you do, and assess: Do I have to do this? Do I want to do this? Can someone else do this instead of me? Can I be okay with a different result (done, not perfect)? Do I have trust issues with letting someone else do it? If so, why? Is it true that "if I don't do it, no one will"? What would happen if I asked for help? Could I receive help the way it came, and not the way I want it to show up?

Accepting and receiving help is a skill to be learned. With time, testing and patience, it is a critical piece to living your life by design and moving away from belief systems that don't help you. As with any change in mindset, repetition and accountability are key components to the success of making a change stick, which is where resources like re-mom can assist you.


If you were to ask me today to finish the sentence, "It takes a village...", my answer would be, "to convince working mothers and women everywhere that you don't have to do it all". It doesn't quite have the same ring to it, but the message is clear: If enough of us challenge the notions of successful motherhood fed to us by societal expectations and individualistic cultures, then we'd start a movement of helping women move past expectations and into feeling good according to them: raising each other, as well as the child.

So, are you willing to join my village?

 

re-mom offers support for new working mothers, helping women thrive both as mothers and as working professionals. To learn more about how we can help, visit www.re-mom.com/services, or email us at hello@re-mom.com to get the conversation started.


If you want to join in on intentional conversations on the working motherhood experience, join us on instagram (@re_mom_coaching).


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