Does It Really Take a Village?

You’ve heard the age-old saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.”  Women since the beginning of time have been saying it…well, maybe not that long.  I actually researched that phrase and its origin is likely an ancient African proverb or rooted in Native American culture.  Regardless of where this phrase originated, it is common place in social circles.  In fact, my friend just said it to me last week.

So what does it mean? Historically, it meant that children would be looked out for by other members of a community or tribe. If they were about to encounter something dangerous or wander off from the main group they may be protected or redirected to their family.  What an amazing pact to be able to count on others to offer aid to a child in need.  

Fast forward to present time and women are uttering that phrase very often in the mom-world.  It takes a village: to transport children (known as carpooling,) it takes a village to corral toddlers into a car, it takes a village to feed a family after a birth or death, IT TAKES A VILLAGE…or does it?

I have to tell you, if I lived in a village it would be the strongest, most solid village in existence.  Not because I know things others don’t or that I can hunt and gather…but because my village has people…lots of people.  My people are smart.  They are helpful and they are on the lookout for ways to be needed.  They offer clothes, hand-me-downs, from their own children to mine (bags and bags full.)  They bring meals, leave flowers and books on my doorstep, they come if I call.  My village has family and friends, men and women, and kids…lots of kids.  

The most incredible thing about my village, is that I don’t have to ask for help.  On occasion I do, but they’re mostly awesome enough to see a need before it is voiced. When I do ask, they show up.

So the truth that I am realizing about a village is, that no, it’s not necessary.  Sadly so many moms that are new to a city, military families on the move, shy moms, moms that never accept help even when it’s offered, those who have burned bridges with loved ones and mommas that are isolated don’t have “villages.” They feel alone and over burdened. I don’t need a village to carry me through my days.  My husband could probably have figured out dinner after babies or whenever I am sick, in fact he is really talented at it. He can masterfully order us Chipotle on his phone and it is ready to be picked up when he arrives. He is so smart!  We could probably start fresh tomorrow and be just fine after a bad day. However, I have people.  I have these incredible people that surround me when I am a mess and offer assistance.  I can’t say enough about my village, if you are a part of it, I LOVE YOU.  If you aren’t sure if you have a village, that’s ok.  I’m not writing this post to make anyone feel less-than or solitary.  I’m writing this post to tell you that my village wasn’t always as strong.  Sometimes it was small…as in, immediate family only.  Some years it grew and other years village members moved on to new communities.  If you want to grow your village here are some tips…

1. Offer help to others.  Seriously, it sounds detrimental…like if you want help you have to give it first…but it works.  Over extend yourself sometimes.  Give a little more than you want to, bake an extra big meal for your family and take 1/2 to a friend in turmoil. Text, call or mail a card.

2. Be brave.  I can say that without joining a community I wouldn’t have as strong a village today.  Look up a mom’s group in your area.  For reals, they aren’t hard to find,  there are mom groups for every need and niche imaginable. Do you want to breastfeed while crocheting a blanket…there’s probably a group for that?! Church, play dates, PTA, book club, 5k running group, gym, yoga, etc.  Join something positive!

3. Ask.  When you get the chance to share a need with those who have accepted you into their village, then do it.  Friendships are built on trust. Voice your needs and share your burdens.  

 

I hope you find, grow, and nurture your village.