This is a guest post by Lyn. Lyn is a single mother, adoptee, birth/first mother and advocate for stronger family and parenting support initiatives.
I have been dreaming. Dreaming and dreaming of creating an organization that offered empowering support for new mothers facing difficulties. I dream of a place where we have low cost housing during the pregnancy, that is drug free, homey and safe. A place where women can come and do nurturing activities like prenatal yoga, gardening, eating healthy regular meals, learning to keep a healthy sleep and wake up time, cultivating positive behaviors and growing into the mothers they hope to be for their children. I dream of this space being completely non-religious based, offering emotional support without pressure to comply with any religious creed or dogma. A space that is pro-choice and that a woman would be connected with abortion oriented counseling and services if she decided that were the path she needed. A space where spirituality can be cultivated in individuals who desire to do so with honor for their own decisions about the spiritual, ethics, what compassion means, and cultivating and growing those traits in a shared space.
I dream of a place that as women begin their parenting journey, the program works to help them get child support payments or TANF and food stamps and insurance– and provide housing for at least 6 months at an extremely low rate to allow mothers to stay at home with their children. I dream of this being a community where women can grow into caring for their infants with support from older mothers, and fellow moms, with access to mommy and baby activities to promote bonding and healthy development of mommy and baby. When women do go back to school they will be assisted to get any scholarships and government funds available to go to school, make a nominal rent payment and otherwise spend time with their child. Help with learning disabilities and executive dysfunction, life management, focusing on tasks and in person coaching with gaining skills to achieve at school would be provided. Counseling, therapeutic activities such as meditation and exercise and more would be available to help moms support their own health and work through any emotional or psychological issues they need help with. Family meal time and activities that encourage a healthy family oriented environment with play and music and dance activities for the whole family would be available.
This kind of program would of course, only be of interest to mothers who want these things for their children. But more and more people dream of giving and enriching, emotionally supportive, cognitively stimulation, developmentally appropriate, and physically healthy and nurishing environment. And it very frequently feels inaccessible to many mothers.
I dream of creating a community living space where housing cost could be reduced and through efforts of members on site many of the costs of creating and enriching environment and involved family space could be reduced making a wholesome lifestyle accessible even to those who have obstacles getting through school or making enough money to support their family in an enriching way.
I dream of an environment where a mother could work part time and still pay her bills and have time for afternoons and summer with her child. A place where there are art classes, cooking activities, robot building, engaging classes and sports and activities and arts for kids to get involved in— and women really had the ability to give their children the lives they dream of– while being able to protect allowing mothers to spend more at home time and relaxation time with their children (and simply for themselves to be more refreshed fulfilled human beings and therefore more present and available when with their children).
I dream and I dream. I have huge obstacles to ever getting through school. I have serious mental and executive function problems and daily functioning is difficult. I believe that all mothers like myself who struggle and yet wish they had more help to be the mothers they wish to be— should have better support than we have now which is therapy/meds. And that is it. Mothers need community. We need each other, to do activities with each other and to share the difficulties and the joys and to carry the hardship of the chores and getting through daily life and making good things happen for our children. Many of us struggle and stuggle in isolation and I don’t think it has to be this way. I dream of something more. I dream of the help I wish existed for me, being available for all of us who need it. And I don’t think I’m alone.
Right now, I only see Christians providing services to mothers who choose to parent children of unplanned pregnancy– or in difficult cirumstance. We need feminists who value women, who value nurturing others not simply because they are mothers but because even after becoming a mother we, as women, are still human beings. Don’t we want a world where our daughters still matter as people even after they give birth? Where society still believes their needs matter, even if in a sense a childs needs will always take a certain priority? Supported, connected, valued women, make better mothers.
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