Conversation with C.J. Schneider, Author of Mothers of the Village

01/08/2017 06:15 pm ET

After many adventures before motherhood exploring and working in Asia, Europe, and Africa, Charla Schneider discovered motherhood to be one of her greatest challenges. Feeling alone mothering in Alberta, Canada with her husband and three kids, she sought to find other mothers to connect with to build a village of friends and other mothers seeking warm contact. As a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior, I found her book inspiring adding a moving viewpoint to my insights about finding connections between mothers and their kids which I wrote in Unlocking Parental Intelligence to also finding connections between mothers and other mothers in her book, Mothers of the Village!

Read on and listen to this fabulous author who I interviewed:

1. What inspired you to write Mothers of the Village?

I gave birth to my third child and moved into a new neighborhood around the same time. I felt lonely and isolated and tired and angry. I realized how important my networks of support had been in the past and realized than so many mothers were in the same boat. This drove me to read about the history of motherhood from anthropologists. The research is clear - mothering has been, for most of humankind's history, a communal effort. From then, I made developing and maintaining my support network one of my highest priorities. I wanted to write about my experiences in hopes that I might be able to help others who are struggling for the same reasons I was.

2. How did you choose that title?

My original title was "Mothers Coming Together, (So They Don't Fall Apart)" but my wise editors encouraged me to find something better. I'm glad they did because Mothers of the Village to me is a nod to all the mothers, past and present, who have taken the adage "It takes a village" to heart.

3. What message do you want your book to voice?

I want women to rethink their mothering experiences. I want us as a society to rethink the erroneous idea that one woman alone in a big house taking care of a bunch of kids is the best setup for moms and kids. My hope is my book can help mothers consider that social capital can bring more joy and stability than affluence can. I hope for a revival of the lost art of connection and community.

4. What was your experience of writing? What were the biggest challenges and rewards?

Writing was cathartic at the beginning and then an uphill battle near the end. Writing a book is quite an effort! Ultimately, writing my book was fueled by my passion for the subject. I don't think I could have written it if I felt otherwise.

5. What is the most important advice you have for mothers who are stay-at-home-mothers or working mothers?

Try to multi-task village building with productivity. Think about working with other women to connect with them; hang out in the trenches with them, rather than trying to play the perfect hostess.

6. Were your feelings about being a mother transformed in any ways by writing this book?

The research I did for this book definitely transformed the way I look at my priorities as a mother, and as a person. Since writing, I have made big efforts to connect with my community and extended family in order to grow my village. I saw payoffs for that effort pretty quickly. I have also, while searching for better connection with those in my life, been forced to look at myself more closely and face my emotional hang-ups that get in the way of me being able to make and develop healthy, strong relationships with the friends and family in my village. I've changed a lot in the past few years and I am so much happier because of those changes.

C. J. Schneider found herself in the middle of a perfect storm after giving birth to her third child and moving to a new neighborhood. Conditions for misery and postpartum depression were ideal: She was isolated, lonely, and exhausted with three young children at home. As she started talking with other mothers, she realized that she was not alone in her experience of feeling alone.

In her unique voice, Schneider intelligently and compassionately offers practical advice on how to create the essential community that mothers need. Given the many examples of communal mothering from the past and around the world, as well as modern examples of communities in which mothers are thriving, the research is clear: Since the beginning of womankind, mothering has been a communal effort.

Mothers of the Village affirms that as mothers connect with each other and learn to work with each other, despite the challenges, they may find a piece of themselves that they have felt missing all along.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold. Visit her on her website: http://lauriehollmanphd.com .

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