Without standing on a podium and burning my bra, I think I must explain what the Red Tent is, in case you were wondering.
Now, this next sentence may get an eye-roll, or at least it does when a Certain Man asks about it, but quite simply put, the Red Tent is about Sisterhood.
Stay with me.
It’s not the kind of Sisterhood where we burn incense, chant in a circle and call in our Gaia Earth Mother Spirits to cleanse our souls and help us reach our divine calling. And it’s not the kind of Sisterhood that is secretly a man-haters club where we bag the men we also love and harp on about how much of a better sex we women are because aren’t our men just hopeless…
THIS is the Red Tent.
It’s when you are heavily pregnant and can’t even see your toes, let alone touch them, and another Sister comes by to make them look pretty because she knows it will make you feel better.
It’s when we are overwhelmed and isolated and sad and our men can’t quite figure out what to do with us, and they offer SOLUTIONS when we just want to BE HELD and secretly we think that every now and again it would be so much easier to cohabitate with women because THEY’D KNOW WHAT TO DO.
It’s when we see our children approaching and we want to run in the opposite direction but instead we are left making wild claims that we must in fact be Bad Mothers because surely no Other Mothers feel like this about their children. However, since being inside a Red Tent, you realise that All Mothers have these moments.
It’s when our men ask us where the scissors are AS IF WE HAVE NEVER BEFORE, AND CERTAINLY NOT 5 TIMES BEFORE, EXPLAINED TO THEM WHERE THE SCISSORS LIVE and we calmly direct them to the scissors area of the cupboard as we also feed the cat, stop our child from weeing in a corner, and cook dinner, and quite rightly after all this drama, need a place to collapse into.
It’s about Carrying one another. It’s about remembering that we’re all Connected to one another. And it’s about giving back to each other all the things we continually give away….filling up those stores inside us that our men just can’t top up.
Because, just quietly, what man will swing by with this?
There is an African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”, but I also think it takes a village to raise a woman.
Because back in the day, we used to live in communities of tribes. There used to be places called Red Tents where women went during that time of the month, when they were sick, and when they were birthing their children. In fact, after they gave birth, they (and all the other tribe-women) stayed in these tents for months resting, helping out, and supporting. The tribe men would drop off food and look after the other children. They knew better than to bother the tribe-women because going through tribe-women-things was tribe-women-business.
Forward in the day, we now live in isolated structures called Houses which are sectioned off from other Houses by rows of wooden beams called Fences. Forward in the day, women come home from a Hospital after giving birth and enter A House. If they are lucky, they have the support of friends and family for the “adjustment period”, and the cooking and cleaning is done. However, once these well-meaning loved ones peter out, and after a Father goes Back To Work, a woman is usually left alone, navigating the unknown terrain of Motherhood without a life vessel or a strong drink in sight.
Now what I’d like to know, as I sit here one week from the due date of my first child, is this.
- Where are my village women?
- Why aren’t I weaving mats with them as all the village children run around being watched by all of us other village women watching them?
- Why isn’t there a wise old woman bringing me cups of crushed leaves in hot water that is supposed to be good for something?
- Why am I not sitting in a circle singing village songs and preparing for a berry-picking trip?
While I’m not so keen on sleeping on bark mats or sharing my husband with 5 other wives, I secretly think that back in the day, they were onto something.
And that something, in my eyes, is the Red Tent.
And a nail polish survival kit.
For those really bad days.
P.S. Thank you to all my Red Tent Women out there, especially the bringer of the Survival Kit (you know who you are). You are very loved x
P.P.S. For those of you who don’t have a Red Tent of your own, may you find one here.