They say it takes a village to raise a child. But in today’s world, where is the village? Some of us are lucky enough to live close to grandparents, friends and a strong church community that supports parents and children when they need it. But what happens when jobs call you away from all that? Or life altering changes make this impossible. Where do you turn?
Some say mom groups, like MOPS (Mothers of Pre-School children). For many of us, the mom groups give us anxiety. We feel like we have to arm ourselves for war lest we disagree on homeschooling/public school, breastfeeding/bottle, or whatever else we think is right or wrong. What happened to women/people who supported each other and their children so they could grow up healthy and happy? Isn’t that the point of raising a child? Finding a village in a new place is hard but it is even harder for moms with anxiety, depression and small children. I wish there was a magic formula for finding this village. Shoot! I would use it. I am jealous of the moms that have a village. Weeks full of friends at library, playdates, a workout partner, or a coffee friend that I could invite over that would just move the pile of unfolded clean laundry on the couch and curl up for a chat.
After five years of looking for a village, friends and support in our small community, I realized this last Mother’s Day that I can’t create my village with other moms who have small children. We, Moms of the Littles, can’t make up the village alone. Where would one find knowledge, wisdom if we are all in the same stage in life? No, a village is all ages, and walks of life. A village is diverse and that diversity is what teaches us and our children to love and care for all people. So instead of trying find a village, be someone’s village.
Being a village does NOT mean calling a parent out or calling social services because you think a pre-teen should be under supervision. This is not a village or even a neighbor, but a rude person who just lives near your home. A neighbor or villager, approaches with no judgment but asks if there is a need to be filled. The parents may trust their child and feel he is responsible or don’t have the funds to pay a sitter. Why not offer to pay the child to mow your lawn or help you make dinner? Who doesn’t win in this village? Start looking around your town, neighborhood. I bet there is a need you could fill.
A volunteer soccor coach, an extra meal to the elderly neighbor, or a case of water or gatorade to your local fire department during the dry season. By becoming apart of your community, you fill a place of importance to someone. You become someone’s village.
People have gotten so caught up in the cyber relationships/communities that they don’t see the neighbor who could use a volunteer to cut his grass or the one suffering from postpartum depression that no one is catching. Instead we are glued to our social media, where the friends we have had in the past give us this false sense of feeling connected. Letters, emails, and Facebook are great for staying in touch but people need physical connection with other people. We are social beings, yet, that expensive little device in your hand will never fulfill that. Parents, we are smart enough to realize that our phone isn’t going to soothe our baby. Our touch, our heat, and our heartbeats melting together will. People grow up but we still have that need for intimacy (not talking the x-rated kind). A virtual hug from your AI is not going to increase your oxytocin levels. The high fives you get from the little 5 year old soccor players you coach will.
If your life is so busy that you feel that you can’t, just think back to when your dad wasn’t too busy to teach you how to swing a bat, or your grandmother, with her hands bent from arthritis, willing to show you how to crochet. Someone had time for you, make time to touch someone and make them feel that you care. When we are children, we took for granted the love surrounding us. But as adults, you don’t have an excuse. Don’t take your village for granted because there someone on your street, in your neighborhood that doesn’t and needs the support you have. Your own children may need you, because they are struggling from pressures of expectation. Be present. Be the village.
My Mother’s Day wish is that you look for an elderly person, parent or a child you can friend. Be a village to some one. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Children always can use another grandmother or grandfather. Moms can always use a helping hand in folding laundry, a meal ready, or a babysitter for twenty minutes while they run errands. (I know I am not the only one who hates unbuckling/buckling carseats for a two minute stop.) Don’t make Mother’s Day just one more Hallmark holiday. Go do and be a village to a child, a family, a mom, a classroom.
How are you active in your village? Do you encourage someone your community?