It seems to me that somehow, in a world where we can instantly connect with those around us, we are more disconnected than ever. I can easily spend a day interacting only with my husband, children and faceless friends on social media. I have in my home not one but three books written specifically for moms on friendship. The one I’m reading right now, Mothers of the Village: Why All Moms Need the Support of a Motherhood Community and How to Find It For Yourself by C. J. Schneider, has had me nodding along with the author’s experience of motherhood and community.
In the first chapter, C.J. shares her story and why she came to write Mothers of the Village:
“It took a third baby in a new city to help me clearly see that a support network is not just a luxury but a vital necessity and solid answer to many problems modern parents face. According to the World Health Organization “[a lack of] social support is a relatively potent risk factor for postpartum depression.” A lack of social support is also a risk factor for addiction, mental health problems, poor health, slower rehabilitation, and many other problems. This is not just true for moms—social support is an irreplaceable existential need everyone has. And there are time when we feel this truth more desperately, times when we are more vulnerable to the effects of loneliness. This was the case for me when I became pregnant with my third baby.”
It’s hard to be a mom in today’s world. Many of us live far away from our families, having left to pursue university, jobs, or spouses. I am envious of my friends who have family support close by. Yet another common problem is the judgement we face as parents from family, friends and society. I often find social media depressing, because there are so many articles slamming parents or holding up a parent as an “example” and warning to other parents. It’s no wonder, then, that so many of us feel disconnected. Alone. And afraid to reach out.
Mothers of the Village is a refreshing breath of air in the midst of that. C.J. writes a dense, well-researched book about why we need each other—why mom friendships are worth the risk. She talks openly about the anger and guilt many moms feel and how hard it is to be a mom. She talks about the lack of support moms today face, and mentions other cultures where that’s different. And she talks about attachment villages and how we as moms can find and build these for ourselves.
C.J. uses examples both from her own life, other cultures and from nature to show us a better way to share motherhood with those around us. One of my favourite chapters was “Embrace Diversity,” in which C.J. addresses the “mommy wars.” She talks about a good friends of hers who is very different from her—and how that’s great. Later, she talks about her mother’s “micro morality,” or the values that help her develop her skills and abilities. She then shares her own very different micro morality and some of the ways that she and her mother have clashed over the years:
“My mom didn’t think I was seeking a peaceful life, because I don’t feel peace in the same way that she feels peace. As we have both made our way to this understanding, we have been able to deepen our respect and appreciation for each other. Major conflicts can arise when people mistakenly think that their micro morality is or should be the same as everyone else’s micro morality.”
Mothers of the Village is a must-read book for the modern mom. I’m sure many moms will, like me, be nodding along when C.J. describes the problems we face as moms today. The four chapters of Part 1 left me feeling depressed about motherhood, and I’m so glad C.J. doesn’t leave us there. Most of the book is dedicated to Part 2—ways of solving this disconnect and finding a motherhood community. C.J’s advice is practical, well-researched and encouraging.
C.J. Schneider lives in Alberta, Canada (in my hometown!), with her husband and three children. She has explored and worked in Asia, Europe and Africa.