It takes a village to raise a child, and an artist too. Nowadays most of us don’t live in villages or even if we do most of the other villagers are too busy commuting to help out with child-rearing. It is, I feel, the mother of all issues – the one underlying all our crises as mothers and makers today, the lack of support, the fact that we can all too easily find ourselves trying to raise a child and make art more or less on our own. We may have a partner, but one other adult does not constitute a community.
So what do we do? How do we make up for the village-deficit? There is the virtual village and today this has an invaluable place, but I have noticed that whilst I am on a screen connecting up with others across the world I am less present with my children. It also can never replace being in the same room as others - Facebook isn’t face to face.
What else is there? You may or may not have family nearby. You may or may not have neighbours that become friends. You may or may not have a school to which your children go and that becomes a site from which community can grow. It all feels a bit hit and miss. If you are single you can sign up to a dating agency, if you are a single or working mum you can buy childcare (if you can afford it) – we can try to buy care and love, but it’s harder to buy an entire village, a whole intricate network of care and reciprocity.
So here are my questions for the month: What or who are your lifelines? How do you make up for the lack of a village to support you, your children and your work? Could a Mothers Who Make group near you help? What else could help, big or small?