Moms, You Are Not Alone
The baby is screaming. The 3-year-old is pretending to be an airplane coming in for a landing off your couch. Dinner is extra crispy—again. It's been a long day, and you're counting the seconds until you can crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head.
If it makes you feel any better, you are not alone. We've all had those days—at home, at work, or both—that make us feel like there's no way we can survive another one. Luckily, most of us find that with some rest and some comfort from a spouse, friend or parent, we get up for another day.
In the United States, May is when we celebrate Mother's Day. It's also National Mental Health Month. It's the perfect time to support each other—whether you are a parent or not. One thing all of us have in common—whether we are living in California or Kenya—is that we are trying to figure life out in a very imperfect world. Sometimes the pieces don't seem to fit, but together we can make it work.
CRS' early childhood development strategy includes helping put the pieces together by supporting parents as the primary caregivers and their children's first teachers. CRS' THRIVE program, for example, works with new mothers in Kenya. Many of these women are affected by HIV and AIDS. In health screenings of 457 mothers, 301 of them—more than 65%— showed signs of depression.
Why is that number so high? The answer lies in economics and a social structure where women may feel isolated and exhausted. In Nyanza, in western Kenya, the husbands are at work, fishing from sundown to sunup, leaving women with many responsibilities in the home and with the kids. CRS invites women to join support groups where they can receive comfort and companionship, as well as learn ways to work together. We're also working with husbands and mothers-in-law to explore how the family can function as a cohesive and supportive unit.
In addition, we're helping women increase their economic power. We provide vegetable seeds and small livestock to moms in Nyanza so they can provide food for their families and have a source of income. They're also learning positive parenting skills, which help them be more effective and feel more capable in educating their children. And participating in the hygiene programs we offer helps women take charge of their own health, as well as their families'.
Parenting is hard, but there are ways to make it easier. When parents have support, they are happier and healthier—and their children benefit.
We invite you to read more about CRS' work with maternal well-being in Kenya.
And we wish you and the moms in your life a happy and healthy Mother's Day.