A recent Huffington Post article has been floating around lately, lamenting the fact that the “villages” that used to raise our children have disappeared. Gone are the days when you opened the door and shooed the children outside with instructions not to return until lunchtime. We no longer have tables full of children at supper, some of whom belong to you – and some of whom do not.
I’ve only been a mom for a few months, so I’m hardly an expert, but there was something about the idea of losing our villages that really stuck with me. It took me a few days to figure out why—it’s because I don’t think it’s true.
When I found out I was pregnant, I felt like I punched a ticket into a secret moms club that I didn’t know about before. All of a sudden, I had something in common with women that I barely knew and what we had in common was powerful and intimate. Friends with young children gave me much needed advice about what type of burp cloths we should get (muslin seems to hold a gallon of baby spit-up), how many diapers we would need (there will never be enough), and what to do if your water breaks at work (good thing I asked, since it did).
Once my daughter was born, I was overwhelmed with love from friends and family members who wanted to snuggle her. I couldn’t have survived my first day back to work without the messages and calls from friends—mostly fellow young moms—with words of support. Each time I post a picture of my sweet baby on Facebook I realize how far my village really reaches. I have two friends who had babies within a few weeks of me. They are dealing with the same things I am and at the same time. We are literally in this together.
It’s not just people I know, either. While trying to soothe a fussy baby stuck in her car seat at the grocery store the other day, a mom with two school age kids in tow gave me a knowing smile. She’d been there. She maybe even missed those days. And her smile reminded me that I’m not the first person to raise a baby and that we’re going to be just fine.
There’s a good chance (sad as it may be) that I’ll never shoo my daughter out the front door to play in the woods outside until supper. I’m not home all day to have coffee with neighborhood moms while our babies play together on the floor. My village isn’t the same as the one that my grandmother or mother had when raising their children—but it’s there, and it’s strong, and I wouldn’t want to be on this journey without it.