Parenting a young child is still very challenging in America, in spite of advancements in medicine, technology, and more material goods than ever. Because so much of the responsibility of parenting still falls to the mother, it is mothers who feel this challenge the most, and mothers who need more, and better, support.
Many mothers, regardless of socioeconomic status, lack consistent, supportive people and resources in the early years of parenting. Geographic displacement from families, longer work hours, and dependence on virtual relationships all contribute to what is an epidemic of isolation for new mothers. In many homes, the only hands-on support for a new mother is her partner, for a few hours, typically at the end of an exhausting day.
This lack of social support not only puts strain on the mother’s mental and physical health, as the demands of a baby require 24/7 attention, but it also affects marriages, employers, and the health care system. In addition, there is a cultural expectation that a new mother care for her infant while doing all of the “normal” chores of laundry, cooking, housecleaning, attending to her partner, her employer and her own basic needs — singlehandedly. Is it no wonder that postpartum anxiety and depression are so prevalent. Few women achieve this expectation, and if they do, it is because they are blessed with many sets of arms to help with the workload.
In other cultures, new mothers are cherished, cared for, relieved of their chores, and never left alone.
When I was parenting my own very young children, I knew there had to be a better way to survive this time. I needed more, and better support. I was lucky to have some good friends to talk to occasionally, but I desperately missed having my mom and sisters, who were 2000 miles away, close by. I wanted them to be living with me, available in the next room to hold the baby while I ran outside to empty the garbage, or to take a shift rocking a colicky baby while I bathed for the first time in days. But, I also had a ridiculously hard time asking for this type of help.
I began to envision a place where I felt safe and supported, a place where I could get my work done, and where I could connect with other moms on an intellectual level. I wanted an in-person community of mothers to whom I could vent about the difficulties of parenting, who also had been through the hard days, and who could reassure me that my children and I would be ok.
As a psychotherapist, I chose to specialize in maternal mental health, and spent several years facilitating mothers’ groups in a variety of settings. I listened to the stories of mothers who expressed the same frustrations of isolation, loneliness and insurmountable expectations that I felt. The idea of community came up over and over in the discussions I had with clients, friends, moms on the playgrounds and moms in the grocery line.
Motherfields is that idea come to life: programs for mothers that encourage community, where women are supported, respected, relieved of household chores, and encouraged to think, discuss and connect.
The model of coworking, which involves like-minded people working in the same space but on different projects, has always intrigued me as a solution for working mothers. So, in addition to group meetings, at Motherfields offers coworking, where a mother can comfortably bring her baby to work, whether she is a work-from-home telecommuter, business owner, blogger, or an artisan who needs craft space.
A big thank you to all of the moms and dads who have already helped shape, and continue to help shape, the Motherfields mission.
I always welcome your suggestions and comments, so please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org