Tuesday, February 21, 2012
It was never meant to be like this
When I have a rough day, a straining hour or even just a bad moment with Zoe, like loosing my temper on a subway platform, I often think that it was never meant to be like this. Parenthood was never meant to be a single or even duo person chore. The good old saying "it takes a village" echos in my ears as I wonder where my support network is. Because having my lifestyle and career means that there might be many supporters but none next door. I have several close friends that I could call up at any hour of the day (and I do occasionally); I have wonderful family who even visits often, but all these people all are between 1 and 10 hours flight away and have been since Zoe was born. When I hit my head badly on the kitchen sink last night and the thought flashed through my mind that I might need stitches (not that it was that bad of a bruise but one's mind does tend to wander towards the extreme) the only one I could think of to call to look after sleeping Zoe was a younger male friend of ours who lives 10 minutes away. Not a close friend, not someone who have ever looked after Zoe or any other kids for that matter, but someone who Mark goes drinking with and who works in the same research center as we do. We have colleagues, but none whose phone number I have, or who lives within any proper distance. There is no village.
Modern parenthood is very independent and lonely in its structure and we tend to pay people to do the chores that was done by extended family and neighbors in "the good old days". This has become even more apparent now that we don't have an arsenal of payed people in our household anymore (well at least a nanny, a cleaning lady and an occasional babysitter seemed like an arsenal when we now only have one busy occasional evening sitter). Scandinavian daycare and wage levels plus our general financial situation means this is no longer an option. When Zoe was sick two weeks ago and Mark's board meeting overlapped with my teaching I called an emergency nanny service. I left a sick toddler with a stranger and paid her a considerable amount of money to go to work. She was my village.
I keep reminding myself that this is how things are; I have made a choice to live like this, I have decided that I can do that. Even when I scream at Zoe because I just can't take her crying for the 5th day in a row while I am in the shower and there is nobody to distract her and she got tired of Pingu, I try tell myself that it is okay because it was never meant to be like this. I am in an extreme situation. And perhaps one day soon there will be a bit more of a village.