All my life, I have heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Before having children, I often thought this was a cliche thing to say. I knew many people at the time that were raising children without a “village.” I was dead set on being an independent woman that raised strong independent children. I had this “I am woman, hear me roar” kind of motto. While studying child development in college, I remember feeling the gravity of what it takes to raise a happy and well-rounded child. The studies are paramount. Children need deep and meaningful relationships with trusted adults. Children need community. So, I sat there, at age 18, reading about the importance of child development and thought to myself, I am going to need some help with his parenting gig.
Fast forward to 2012 when I had my first daughter. It was then that I realized not only did my daughter need a village, but I, as her mother, needed a group of people to help me raise this tiny human. We all need a community of people that could step in, help out, and be there for us in our time of need. I slowly but surely realized raising small humans was also about building a community of people that love them.
After my second daughter, this idea of needing a village became even more clear as I had complications with her delivery. Who would watch my oldest? How can I care for two children when I can barely walk without pain? How will I do this? These questions were quickly answered when my mother stepped in to wash my clothes. When my husband took the fussy baby on a car ride and when my mother-in-law picked up my rambunctious three-year-old just so I could sleep while the baby was sleeping. Again, here I was relying on my community to help. Once again this solidified my knowledge that we all need a village.
The reality of needing others to help me raise my children became no more real than in 2019. In 2019, I lost a large part of my community. My village cracked a little and our family was left broken. In May 2019, my mother unexpectedly passed away. My rock, my strength, my “hold my hair back while I puke” part of my village was gone. There were moments when I was wondering how I would move forward. How do I raise my daughters and be a good mother when I no longer have a mother to turn to? Not only did I lose my friend and parent, but I lost a big part of my village. In fact, if my village were a building, the cornerstone was now missing.
Six months later, my wonderful father-in-law passed away after three years of battling cancer. Again, another cornerstone of our village missing. Like a building missing its foundation, our family has been a bit unsteady. It’s like we are learning how to move forward without a large part of our community. But one thing is for sure, the rest of our village stepped up. I will never forget the first person to show up after my mom passed away. I will never forget my boss dropping everything and driving me to the hospital when I got the phone call. I will always remember my best friend showing up at the funeral with fruit snacks and juice boxes for my children for when they became restless. This was my village, a little broken but strong. I would be a little lost without these people.