the modern day parenting village

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The widely known and used African proverb says, "It takes a village to raise a child." The 'village' seems to be quite elusive in today's fast moving, judgey at every corner, social-media filtered world. I have seen my fair share of posts around the web claiming the village no longer exists, and I am here to make the counter-argument.  I am here as a firm believer that it does take a village, and if you're willing to look for it, you'll see too that your village is all around you.

Our village stretches across the people our kids see every or most days; those that are closest to us physically and emotionally and all the way out to people our kids' will probably never meet.

our friends and family; our kids' grandparents, aunts, uncles, best friends, and cousins
who always show up with hugs and snacks and extra diapers and smiles
who remember birthdays and anniversaries and small holidays and celebrate them with our kids in their own special ways - through video messages and snail mail and little surprises
who offer up sleepovers and playdates and fun day trips
who say, 'let's get together soon' and mean it and make it happen
who forgive me for my 12 hour average text response time
who pack their bigger-than-our-kids' clothes and shoes into totes and bags and deliver them to us as well loved hand-me-downs.
who show up early to set up and who stay late to help clean up after a party at our house
who load up tupperware and cling-wrapped plates of food for us to take home after their parties

our neighbors
who smile and wave as we walk, bike, or drive by
who buy our kids' school and sports fundraisers
who accepts our parcel deliveries on their porch because the UPS guy is afraid of our dogs
who stop and chat with us in the middle of the road or at the bus stop

our kids' teachers
who are patient and kind
who teach them and love them and learn about them and their interests
who know all our kids names (even if they haven't had them in school yet)
who send home notes or message me to offer helpful tips or encouragement when the learning becomes difficult

our kids' bus driver
who is patient and kind
who waves at both pick up and drop off
who recognizes us outside of the bus stop and chats with the kids making them feel important

our kids' coaches
who are so very, very, very patient
who cheer for their wins and encourage them after losses
who show up earlier and leave later than the rest of us and never see a cent for it but do it for the kids and for the love of the game

our sport season families
who pick up, bring home, and share snacks
who take photos of and cheer for our players
who play with, talk to, and keep an eye on our other kids during games and practices

my blog friends
who inspire me and encourage me in my motherhood
who read and comment thoughtfully
who start a long distance book club with me and email and send snail mail surprises

the pinterest moms
who have tried something and saw that it worked for them and then shared it for other families
who save me in the moments of panic:  what's for dinner?  how do I teach my pre-K kid the alphabet? What are some good books for my reluctant reader? what are some easy rainy day activities?
who live and die by my favorite efficiency rule: 'you shouldn't have to recreate the wheel'

to strangers we meet along our journey
who help my kid up off the playground floor
who tell my kids aloud in public, "What a great helper you are to your momma!"
who offer to take our grocery cart back, and hold the door, and make funny faces at them from a few pews back in church to keep them quiet
who answer my apologies for too loud/wild/rowdy kids with, "oh honey, they don't bother me."
who smile at me and say, "I remember those days. You're doing great."

but there's an important part about the modern day parenting village:  You also have to remember to be a part of the village.

it means giving out grace for friends and family when they're running late or cancel last minute, or when they forget or make changes to plans

to put down your phone when you are in the company of anyone; to be with the people you are actually with.

to look at a mom in the midst of her child's public tantrum and giver her a smile and a "I've been there momma, your doing great, hang in there!"

to see all the moms within your social circle not as a competition but rather as an opportunity to share the burden of the load.  I often think, Thank goodness for the Classroom Mom who organizes the Halloween party and compiles the snack list.  Thank goodness for the Crafty Mom who inspires my kids with their creative homemade Valentines.  Thank goodness for the Team Mom who packs up enough Gatorades and fruit snacks for all the teammates.  Thank goodness for the Mom who always remembers extra diapers, wipes, and hand sanitizer.  Thank goodness for the Research Mom who knows all the up to date rules on carseats and best spots around town for free kid meals. Thank goodness for the Mom who takes all the photos at all the things and remembers to tag every proud parent in them.

And to also own up to your own type of village contribution and run with it as best as you can.  Hey, maybe I'm just the Mom who is always willing to take an extra kid on short notice (four kids, a minivan, and sahm...yeah, playdates welcome anytime!) and the mom who answers TMI and mom-guilt questions with a laugh and a "yeah, you just got a survive sometimes"....because ya know, a village needs one of those moms too!

I would argue, passionately, that the modern day parenting village exists.  But in a world of technology and mommy wars and wildly varying kid-raising techniques - I know it can feel like we're isolated..

Maybe your village looks drastically different than mine.  Maybe your village includes doctors or therapists or social workers or more friends and less family or more neighbors or a network of homeschool moms.  Maybe your village includes advocates, mentors, sponsors, and families who have been down the same scary road before you.  But if you give it thought and reflection, you'll see your village start to take shape.  These are your people, your tribe.

It takes all kinds of kinds.  And if we're willing to look up and around and see that most of us are trying to do our best with all of our different types of families and struggles and talents.  Most of us are just winging this parenting gig as best we can and crossing our fingers we don't completely mess this thing up.

I have felt first hand the relief and comfort and beautiful results of what can happen when I recognize and accept the help from our village.  That is when I most feel like I can do this - when I realize that we can do this, but only together.

We can all contribute to raising up well rounded, decent little persons.  But we must be willing to accept help to receive it, and we also must be willing to give help too.  The same goes for grace.

thank you to my village,
such a big, loving, kind village.
my children are so very blessed to have you help in their raising up.
WE are so blessed to have you help in their raising up (!!)
indebted forever,

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! This gave me goosebumps! And I'll admit, I teared up reading the part about blog friends-- you & Ashley have meant so much to me the last few years. I draw such strength and inspiration from you both. Especially moving to a new town where I didn't have any friends, it buoyed me up to know that you and Ashely were cheering me on, there when I needed a bit of encouragement or mama-solidarity. Thank you for that.
    I agree that as mama's we need to cheerlead each other. Encouraging strengths in others that I lack, and accept myself for what I can offer, not focusing solely on what I lack.
    My personal village has changed so much over the years, now finally settling into Neighbors, Friends & then Family (because neighbors are close, friends are busy & family is far away) whereas when I started my parenting journey it was Family, Friends, Neighbors. It's a fluid thing, who we lean on and in what ways we need them as we navigate raising babies. I love that I've learned that.
    Nearly a decade into my motherhood and I know that whatever is going on (good or bad) it'll only last a short while before things change and shift yet again.
    I am happy to be on this crazy ride, raising four kids, with you by my side telling me "it's normal", showing me "It can be done" and loving my kids long distance the way I love yours!
    So much love from all the way across America!!!