Stemming from the author’s note I addended to my last piece, I have some more thoughts to share on the idea of mother as refugee. I alluded to the fact that my musings obviously came from a very ‘first world problem’ place. Even had I not used that actual phrase, there were many details in my post that gave me away.
Assumption: access to child care
To escape, i.e. leave one’s home, someone else has to watch the kids. While many mothers may dream of it, the point is moot if there is no one to care for the children in their absence.
Assumption: a partner in child-rearing
Raising one’s children with a support partner – both emotionally and logistically – frees one to care for oneself, offers the space to do so, validates the importance of . . . an act which is exponentially harder without one.
Assumption: financial solvency
My piece presupposes that there is extra room in one’s budget for such frivolity as a fancy coffee drink. Buying a coffee I could’ve made at home is a luxury I need to plan for in my first world budget. It’s also a way to secure space in the establishment. For mothers with low incomes, buying a drink in exchange for a seat isn’t even an option. This also assumes that one doesn’t first have to pay for child care in order to get some time to oneself, in which case even an overpriced cup of coffee is a drop in the bucket.
Assumption: local resources/community
A latte at a coffee house as self-care is the ultimate example of white mom privilege. Coffee shops – one really – are also the only places in my mostly rural town that are open in the evenings. If the library happens to be open when I get the chance to escape, there isn’t a quiet section for me to hide. I’ve resorted to sitting in my car in some picturesque spot, but that only works during daylight hours in warm weather. Winter in the Northeast is not conducive to this. In other words, place plays a large role in the opportunities available to mothers. If there is no building, no business with availability that suits her schedule and economic needs, there is no escape.
Assumption: home as a safe and comforting place
Perhaps home as it exists is a very triggering place. Some mothers may associate their surroundings with abusive episodes or people who live(d) there. The emotions elicited may be polar opposite to the relaxation response. Others may be overwhelmed by the sight of dishes to wash or piles of laundry to process, a very real and overwhelming reminder of her daily duties. Or perhaps others expect her to perform such duties when at home or consider her time squandered.
I cannot assume that I’ve done any justice to the situations I’ve described above. I cannot presume what it is like to actually live in such conditions. I only open them in an attempt to unpack some of my own privilege and honor the experience of every mother.