Kimberly Cook introduced many to the Bruderhof community in her piece, An Old World Mary Poppins beats my postpartum blues. In this close knit community of devout Christians, they go out of their way to help mothers who are struggling after giving birth:
After I heard of their community’s practice — a young single woman lives with a postpartum mother and her family for at least a year after the baby’s birth — I think my jaw actually hit the floor. This Mary Poppins character they painted before me assists with childcare, housework, cooking, cleaning, and, by golly, is just plain good company.
Company, you say? Isn’t that what I needed the most!
I offered a halting defense of our life out here “in the world,” telling of meals dropped at your door and support groups with free babysitting. But the pastor and his wife looked at me as if I were a frontierswoman, left to hack out trails by myself in the wilderness, and with a baby strapped to my back!
Some parishes do offer help to new mothers and those experiencing postpartum depression; support groups, meal delivery, even some babysitting, but few parishes, if any, are equipped to send young women to go live with a family for a whole year.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Is it time for us to say it takes a parish at least? What do you think?