06 March 2006

What a Continuum Must Be Like

This weekend, Nana and Ria came to visit, for the first time since Kestrel was born. And I was given a breathtaking glimpse as to what it must be like to raise children within an intact continuum. For those not familiar with the idea, the Continuum Concept is a book by Jean Liedloff, that examines the idea that babies are born with certain expectations of family and social structure, called a continuum, and that part of what's so screwed up about our culture is that our continuum is broken. (I'm grossly oversimplifying here. Go read the book. Really.) I've long believed that the nuclear family is a bad idea. No sane human being gives one individual sole responsibility for multiple children and then locks that individual into social isolation, while simultaneously delivering the cultural message that the work they do is without value. It's an ugly setup, a one-two punch that demoralizes and devalues homemaking and careproviding, while simultaneously creating an environment of extreme stress and scarcity for a child. I mean, of course a child who has to constantly fight with siblings, the housecleaning, the bills, the cooking, etc., to get its needs met, is going to grow up with self-esteem issues. It's nearly a given. So picture if you will, a well-oiled domestic machine. Four adults, two children. There's always one adult for playing, one for working, one for resting, and one to do whatever occurs to them. As a person tires of one activity, they swap smoothly with someone else in a different activity. Each person stays within their own comfort zone, and what's more, they're *mindful* about what they're doing, because it's the thing they've chosen to spend their energy on, not something they're forced into doing because it must be done and there's no one else to do it. It was bliss. The kids noticed, too. By Sunday afternoon, when everyone had left, both boys were happy, grounded little people, ready to calmly cuddle down to sleep. And I was right there with them. And today, I'm back to the normal nuclear grind, singlehandedly working, riding herd on two boys, and trying to stay on top of the mountain of housework. I'm stressed, and so are the boys. They can tell I'm not focusing on them, so the escallation for attention has started. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe I'm just a weener. Or maybe, I just really miss my continuum.


At 3/06/2006 07:13:00 PM, Blogger LadySeduction said...

sing it sista!
having had this also with a group of friends when my older two were little, it IS bliss.
I long for this again and so far have not been able to come up with the magic again. it is like i got to have a husband/partner this time but I still NEED the help/support of a "village".
thanks for sharing this on the "big list" too.

At 3/06/2006 08:28:00 PM, Anonymous Nana said...

I wish the village was closer. ;)

At 3/06/2006 08:40:00 PM, Anonymous Christina said...


imagine a huge house with three floors. on one floor lives a married couple with one child. on another floor lives another married couple with no children. on the third floor lives a third married couple with three children.

imagine them living together with just the right amount of space, privacy, and social interaction.

then, imagine them getting a 30-day notice from their landlord, letting them know that he intends on selling the house, and they have to leave forthwith. because of their circumstances, each couple has to go their separate way.

yeah. we moved in early january, and i still cry about it in my very empty house. :-(

At 3/06/2006 09:11:00 PM, Blogger September said...

We pretty much had this with friends and neighbors when Josh was little, but it wasn't family, so it was fragile and eventually broke. It did, however, make me completely appreciate the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" because Josh learned a lot of stuff from the other parents that he might not have from us. I miss it too.

At 3/06/2006 09:18:00 PM, Anonymous Ria said...

I wish I was able to visit more often, even though I sounded like I was at deaths door. I really loved being there with my nephews, they are great and their parents are the best. Hugs and Kisses

At 3/07/2006 12:31:00 AM, Anonymous Liz in New Zealand said...

And oh my gosh, but I remember what it was like when you were here more than a year ago now. We'd never even met before IRL but we all knew the 'continuum' way of being and it worked so well. I agree with Deb - when my two eldest boys were young 3 of us single parents , each with two preschoolers set this up for ourselves on a regular basis even as we lived in different homes - What fun, as well as what sanity. Bring it on!! Smooches from downunder

At 3/26/2006 01:00:00 PM, Anonymous Dana said...

Mmmm, I grew up in a village, but they were all hopeless drunk and fighting. So you definitely gotta be careful of who those 4 people are. Dana


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