I can’t remember the first time that I heard the expression “It takes a village to raise a child.” I’m sure that I’ve heard it hundreds of times throughout my life and digested it and nodded in agreement with very little thought. I didn’t disagree but I also didn’t have kids so, “Yes. Sure. I can definitely see how it could take a village.”
The first time that heard that expression and really thought about it was at a baby shower for a beautiful friend of mine. I was pregnant with my first baby at the time so I suppose that I was more in tune to the actual meaning of this expression. As she finished opening all sorts of adorable and thoughtful gifts, she stood up, looked around the room filled with smiling, encouraging and loving faces and while thanking everyone said “It truly takes a village to raise a child and we are so grateful to all of you for being our village.” Wow. Those words resonated with me. They were suddenly full of meaning and warmth and truth.
During the time between then and now, I have always appreciated my village. My village was my family who were always willing to take excellent care of our babies whenever and wherever needed. My village was the friend with the teething advice, potty-training advice and ‘transition to big kid bed’ advice. My village was the swimming instructor who literally taught my kids how to keep their heads above water. My village was the soccer coach who encouraged my preschooler to meet new friends and work as part of a team, the dance instructor who introduced her to structure and discipline outside of our home, the neighbours who taught my children how to approach and pet a dog, the bakery staff who reinforce that they must use their manners if they would like a treat, and so on and so on and so on… I have always considered myself to be so fortunate to have such a wonderful village to help raise my children.
Until today, I had always considered our village to be a team of incredible family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances who all offer a bit of care, teaching and love which helps to mold my little ones into the healthy, strong, caring and confident children that they are becoming.
And I am not belittling this outlook or village at all. I am so grateful for the stranger in the grocery store parking lot who chases me down to deliver the tiny mitten I didn’t realize I had dropped. And the fellow mom friend who lets me know that my 2 year old just made a solo run for the bathroom at the indoor playland in the split-second that I turned my back to him.
But I’ve started to realize that this village is so much more than I ever thought. The village is there to support the mothers (and fathers) just as much as the children. To support them and guide them and pick them up when they fall down.
Today I found myself struggling. Struggling with the juggle of 3 kids under 4 and the laundry, mess and sleep deprivation that comes with them. Struggling with the guilt of not doing enough or being enough. Struggling to forgive myself for the days that I mess up and I’m not patient enough or strong enough.
Fearing that my struggle might be something more than just a struggle, I wrote about it in hopes of getting it off my chest so I could push forward. Writing has always been therapeutic for me. I normally write fun anecdotes about my kids that I want to remember later. Today, I stepped outside my “comfort zone” and wrote about my “baby blues”for me. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I hit “Publish.” It was my way of convincing myself that I was facing my struggle. I thought that sharing my experience might help other moms who might gel the way that I do know they are not alone in their struggle.
It was relieving to have my thoughts off of my chest. I felt like I could think and breathe again. I felt better.
I did not expect the response that I have received to this post via phone call, text, blog comment, Facebook message and email. The support I have received has been so overwhelming. Whether it was a beautiful mama saying that they have been where I am, or a friend who has a friend who has been there or a friend offering help, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen and encouragement; I am grateful.
I’ve gone from feeling so down and in such a dark place that I don’t know how or when will be able to crawl out, to feeling hopeful and exceptionally grateful. This is all thanks to my village. The village that I knew was there all along. The village that I appreciate for helping to raise my children. The village that I didn’t realize I depended on as well. I am so grateful for the kind, compassionate and loving souls who comprise my village. There are great people in this world and I am so thankful to have so many of them in my life.
It really does take a village to raise a child. And yes, the village is made up of the people who teach, love and care for our children. But the village is also the people who support the parents of the children in their village. The people who see a mother struggling and offer a hug, to help, words of wisdom and encouragement.
I am absolutely overwhelmed by the support and love that has been offered to me in response to a post that I shared with squinty eyes and a deep breath, not knowing how it would be received. My heart is full. My soul is singing.
I am fully aware of the challenges, doubt, guilt and exhaustion that come with motherhood. But I also know that I can get through anything with the support of my village.
It takes a village to raise a mother. To guide her through the difficult times. To encourage her when she feels “not enough.” To hug her when there are no words. And to raise her up when she feels down.
Thank you for being a part of my village. Xo