Sound Off: It takes a village to raise a mother in 21st Century

By Lisa Kois

There is an epidemic among mothers of small children characterized by bouts of sleeplessness, stress, isolation, feelings of inadequacy, frustration, exhaustion, and crumbling “wonder women” complexes. Moms march on, blurry-eyed as they may be, but they march on.

I know. I am one such mother, surrounded by so many others just like me. Amazing women doing the most elemental and essential work there is for our future — raising our children. Yes, ours — not mine, not theirs, not yours — but our children! And yet, so many do so much of this vital work alone. The job is undervalued. The support is minimal. Families separated by miles, if not states, long commuter days that begin before dawn and end long after the kids are in bed, homes in the woods far from neighbors, friends and groceries: it all takes a toll.

Meanwhile, families are increasingly struggling to cope with joblessness, raising costs, reduced incomes, job loss, plummeting savings, multi-generational homes, creative financing, diminishing educational options, cuts to family support services, and so much more. The stress mounts. Everyone suffers.

And then, there are these small people, these unknowing and all-knowing small people. Our children. Lights of the world. Leaders of our communities. Our most precious gifts and lasting legacy. Our children.

The village that it takes to raise a child has double duty. It not only beholds and nurtures the child, it supports and cares for the mother so that she, too, may behold and nurture her child. It is in this spirit that Mother Mentors — an organization committed to supporting mothers, fathers and other caregivers of small children — was formed.

Mothers and grandmothers who have lived the struggle and reaped the boundless rewards come together to support mothers and other caregivers of new babies and young children. We provide an extra pair of hands, an ear, a shoulder ... it’s a simple and sublime idea.

But we need volunteers to support our mothers. The babies are coming! Please join us for our training on Feb. 28. You can call Mother Mentors at 360-579-4565 or email us (mothermentors@whidbey.com) for more information about volunteering, or if you are interested in having a volunteer mentor.

Lisa Kois represents the Mother Mentors Coordinating Committee.

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