The edges of pain

I am tired of being in constant pain.

My pain is not great like the shock of touching a metal spoon to your lips straight from the mug or so deep that I wish for everything to end. No, it's more constant, like a friend from High School who reminds you of a time when you were most unhappy and calls periodically so that you never dare shake that memory. Sometimes the pain is simply gone and I spend several days (or weeks even) moving about without even thinking of it. But then something happens and I find myself back in the center of the pain again, moving oddly or wincing when I adjust my posture, just looking for a way out or a way through or a way to find peace in the middle.

Today, I snapped at my children and husband, pressing the heels of my hands into my eyes and telling Mark that I just can't handle it right now. With very short notice I made him point man and took myself to bed, laying there listening to the girls play on the deck above me and feeling like the worst wife and mother in the world (and yet knowing I am not, so don't worry to defend me to myself). I slipped quickly into sleep, dreaming the difficult dreams that often come with an unscheduled midday nap and awoke less than an hour later feeling guilty for needing to hide under the sheets from my life and from my own body.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do mothers so often disregard their own needs and then feel guilty when the pot boils over? Why do we not see that being in pain (mental included) wears down the whole family and diminishes us as a person? I know that I allow this guilt to play heavily on myself while I dutifully parent and then find myself abandoning my family altogether, needing to get away, practically pushing a little person off my lap in my haste to escape. And when I take this time away to recharge I feel like I end up paying for it, like when Lily refused to speak to me for the 24 hours after I came back from the Bay Area. Sometimes I make myself pay for it, thinking there must be something wrong with me for needing separation, needing to be untouched for a few hours (sometimes days).

I recently had a conversation with a mother who was telling me about when her partner was working two jobs. He'd be gone by 7am and home after 10pm, leaving her to do all the parenting for their two young boys. I was telling her I know how that feels since Mark so often travels for work.

"I think next time he goes, I just need to hire some help." I told her.

"Wait, you haven't been? I couldn't do it without help! Who can be expected to spend 24/7 with small people and not go a little insane?"

When I relayed this conversation to Mark, he told me that people just do. "Women have been in charge of the child care for thousands of years. I mean, just think of the hunting parties of tribal communities, gone for months sometimes!"

"Hold on a minute," I stopped him, "those women did not mother alone. They mothered in community. That's where the whole, 'It takes a village' thing comes from."

"Well yeah, but I doubt they had trouble with their kids being with them all the time."

"That was the way of life, though! They didn't go out and get careers and then have children, needing to readjust their entire lives from the freedom they had with a job and the cash flow that went with it! What we do in this society is a radical shift from career woman to mother and then we expect everyone to be just fine with it, embracing this new life where you cannot do anything without a plan."

There are times when I long for a true parenting community. When I just wish I had Aunties and Grandmothers all over the place to help shoo the children back into safety or give a mother a chance to do the wash in peace, even if it happens to be the wash for 15 families. I miss that we are so devoid of community these days and that we are expected to mother alone, even in the thick of pain (again, mental included). How did we get here? How do we find ourselves surrounded by lovely things and whirly toys and technology to make our lives easier and yet so very alone?

More importantly, how do we fix it? Is that why some of us blog? Are we searching for that community? Is that why so many get frustrated and stop blogging? Because they feel the tingling of tribal community through the people who virtually support them but none of the actual day to day help we so often need? Or is it something else? Is it unrealistic to think we could one day have a community that supports us in the every day?

Someone has to have the answer to a life without pain and guilt.

I'm ready for answers.

I'm open to peace.