By Skye Ziemke
The next time your children are sleeping peacefully, and you are awake with time to fill (yes that was a joke) type the following question into Google: “Why do parents need other parents?”
I tried this, thinking I would find article after article outlining what happens to a parent who doesn’t have a support network. Surprisingly, I found very little.
Perhaps I am just a bad web “surfer” (this could be true actually; every time I try to self-diagnose an illness or injury in my family I conclude that a trip to the ER is our only recourse). Or perhaps, there is not enough research being done on the importance of having other parents in our lives.
I sat there wondering what to do. I knew I desperately wanted to drive home this message for you and for myself, but I wasn’t sure how to convey it.
From somewhere inside came the words “lion pride”. Never one to shy away from that inner voice (even when it says things like “Oreos” at ten o’clock at night) I decided to take heed and do some reading.
Thanks to the fine lion pride researchers who had risked their lives observing in the wild, I was able to learn a lot sitting at my computer, munching on Oreos:
Lions are the only cats which form social groups – looks like my inner voice has steered me correctly! Social groups are exactly what we need. You may not need a buddy to go zebra hunting with, but this is about support and knowing you have backup.
Female lions in prides give birth to cubs around the same time – playmates! I will never underestimate the gift of having friends with experience and older children but maybe this one is about “time”. Having friends with children around the age of my own, means they can play together providing grownups time to talk.
When a hunting party heads out from the pride, the non-party goers care for all the cubs– help when needed! We are all going to need help at some point. Life guarantees that the unplanned events will happen and we need to know there are loving adults in our inner circle who can care for our children when we cannot.
Lions can reach speeds of around 50 mph but cannot sustain this for long – we need help for the long haul! So many times I have wrongly believed I could run the race of parenting, working, and managing three little lives without making it a relay race. We can all run hard-for a short while-right before we suddenly cannot. At some point we have to hand off the baton to someone else for a bit. The moment we feel we can’t take a break to catch our breath is the moment parenting begins to seem very lonely. Why? Because we need to find our pride! Or at least, find a pride to be a part of. We need friends to tell us everything is okay and to assure us that we have support.
One last fact I learned and thought I would share is that lions are largely nocturnal. I did not find any great gem of truth to apply to our lives from this, it just made me laugh to think about how quickly a newborn entering our home changes us into ‘nocturnal creatures’ who growl, roar, and bite a little bit while trying to rouse ourselves during daylight hours.