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Where’s My Village?

Emily Saunders

 

How many times have you heard the TRUE quote “It takes a village to raise a child”?  Probably lots.  As I look around and scroll social media mom groups, I think we can all agree that the village can be difficult to create in the time that we’re living.  We are more connected than ever via screens, but true, in person, real life relationships can be really challenging.  Families live all over the globe, friends from all seasons of life scatter with new jobs and opportunities and laying down roots is just different than it used to be.

When my first son was born and I was no longer going to an office daily, I quickly realized that if I tried to be by myself most of the time, I was not going to last very long.  It was a tough season for me, no doubt.  Truly, probably the hardest ever.  Most of my mom friends worked full-time, and while Momsanity was born when Adler was just 3 months old, I was at home almost all the time.

I remember trying to join a few play groups when he was an infant.  Not that my baby would be doing much playing, but I was looking for encouragement and other moms who understood where I was in my season.  Sometimes we just need to be together. True story, I got kicked out of the first group because I didn’t plan enough events (with an INFANT no less). 

Huh?

The second group I was interested in never invited me even though I basically asked a few “friends” if I could join.  It felt like a sorority and in hindsight, I’m glad that didn’t work out because the group imploded later.  Side Note:  God always knows what He’s doing.

Finally, I started a really simple “Come as you are and only when you can” workout group.  We were all fresh and clueless first-time moms. I loved that everyone was super laid back and those who weren’t rarely returned because we let our kids share snacks and crawl in the dirt and eat sand.  These quickly became my girls.  We would share breastfeeding and sleep tips and were there for each other during sicknesses and new babies and all the things.  We cooked for new moms, handed down clothes, and cheered one another on.

 While this group doesn’t gather nearly as often anymore (there are like 25 kids out of the original 7 or 8 and many are now in school), we still love each other and show up when needed.  We still workout now and then too.  Each Christmas we adopt a family together.  And once in a blue moon we stay out until 9:30 for a Moms night out.

This group taught me what it really means to be a village.  It means that I can jump in for a mom friend when she’s dealing with another kid.  I can grab sanitizer from my car when a kid picks up something putrid on the playground. When a kid has a snotty nose someone always finds a tissue.  We laugh and cry together over all the crazy things that motherhood produces.  I can share embarrassing parenting challenges without judgement. Encouragement is plentiful.  Low key playdates on rainy days or when school has been out for WAY too long for bad weather keep us all sane.  These are the things of a village.

As my kids get older and we’re on to school age, the village continues to evolve.  Recently, my good friend Rachel (who also happens to be my pastor’s wife) and I, took 6 of our kids to Chikfila for a wild Friday night.  We figured we could catch up while our kids played and ate dinner.  Side note:  I always said I would not feed my kids any kind of fast food on the regular.  While we eat most of our meals at home, I now understand every Mom’s love for this fantastic place. 

Anyway, things were going just fine in the form of controlled chaos until I glanced to my left and through the glass to the play place, I saw my two oldest wrestling and throwing punches.  There was blood.  There were lots of tears.  Rachel sprung into action keeping things steady with the other kids as I sprinted in and scooped the boys off the ground.  More tears.  Lots of parenting.  Lots of apologies.  More tears because obviously those two weren’t getting ice cream.  More parenting.  Lots of hugs.  Some snuggling and yoga breathing.  It seemed endless.

Typically, I would begin to lose my cool after the 45 ish minutes this entire ordeal played out.  I would have felt overwhelmed and like I might explode.  I probably would have made some poor choices. My husband grounds me, but he had taken the baby home to put him to bed way earlier. 

But my village!  Rachel kept reassuring me, asking me what I needed, and best of all, gave me dozens of encouraging glances through the glass.  She was silently cheering for me.  Ya’ll.  That’s what we need as moms!  We don’t need judgement nor to be ignored.  We need encouragement, an extra set of hands, and knowing glances.  I want to be like Rachel.

As you might imagine, I was exhausted when I arrived home.  About an hour later I got this text from Rachel.  “You were really so great in the way you handled the boys.  You were so calm and took your time with both of them.  You showed them a lot of patience and grace which is something I’m working on, so you helped me as well”.

I cried.  My greatest love language is words of affirmation and after dealing with all of that and questioning all my words and decisions, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

God is so good in that way.  He puts people in our paths right when we need them. 

If you’re struggling with your tribe and feel lonely in this parenting gig, I encourage you to start building that village.  It absolutely will not fall into your lap.  Start inviting moms from church, school, play groups, small group and anything else to hang out.  Do anything!  Get together with your kiddos, go to a park, walk while your kids ride bikes or you push the stroller, go to Chikfila, host a playdate (please don’t do anything crazy- a carton of grapes and bottles of water is perfect).

You won’t hit it off with everyone and that’s ok.  Just be a friend.  Be an encourager.  Be helpful.  Be willing to talk about your imperfect parts.  Lower the bar for one another.  Remind her what matters and what doesn’t.  Notice her new hair.  Share encouraging scriptures. God will use you as a disciple and you will gain so much along the way.

Let’s be the village so we can grow the village and share the village!

 



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