There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child.
And it does!
Or at least it should.
As a parent it is difficult to stay ‘on’ 24 hours a day – and we’re not meant to do it all by ourselves. Most cultures have a tradition of family, neighbors, and friends coming together as a community to support one another and help each other to raise families.
What a comfort it is knowing there are other trusted adults nearby willing to lend a helping hand, be a second set of eyes and ears to see and hear the things we can’t, or even just to offer a second opinion (when asked).
But “the village” is gone friends.
Where once we could count on the help of kind and well-meaning neighbors, we now increasingly find ourselves going it alone. The people who live around us might technically be neighbors, but they might as well be strangers.
Worse still, today’s parents deal with an army of online bystanders reassured of their own parenting by pointing out the failures of others.
Everyone is slow to help yet quick to judge. “Mom shaming” is a new phenomenon, but it is disturbingly common, with 80% of women dealing with bullying from other women at some point in their adult life.
The absence of the village is setting us up for failure – it’s about impossible not to feel inadequate at times as a parent when you’re overwhelmed, exhausted, and stretched to the limit.
Bring Back the Village
The village of our youth may be a thing of the past, but we can build our own village by supporting each other as moms. Simple things make all the difference.
Bring Back the Out-of-the-blue Social Calls
These days when the doorbell rings, it usually means one thing: a salesperson.
Where are the neighbors and friends who stopped in for coffee – just because? When you happily answered the door and didn’t feel required to clean the house from top to bottom first?
A coffee break or a visit with another adult is of course a pleasant diversion. But it also lets a Mom know that someone is paying attention, someone cares.
Even if the visit is short and manic — like it can be with little ones around — it is still undeniably beneficial. Let’s bring back the unannounced company, the surprises that gave us the boost we needed to get through monotony of our days.
We ALL know a mom who could use a drop-in from a friend with Starbucks in hand. So do it!
Bring Back the Babysitters
Used to be that you could call on a neighbor to watch the kids in a pinch. And don’t even think about trying to pay them!
I can think back to many a time where my Grandparents, any one of my Aunts, or even a next-door neighbor would take care of me — just because.
A couple hours without the kids is a chance for Mom to have a little ‘me’ time, or simply to get stuff done — whether it be working, cleaning, resting, or the like. And she knows her little ones are safe in their village.
Let’s bring back the occasional help and child minding that gives Mom some much-needed time.
We ALL know a mom who needs a break. All she’s waiting for is an offer.
Bring Back the FOOD!
One of the best things about a tight-knit community its the abundance of occasions spent together over food. Happy celebrations, holidays, even times of mourning all have one thing in common: home-cooked dishes and desserts.
Where are the neighbors that bring food and comforts during times of celebration, and times of need? There use to be a day when if something big happened in one house (good or bad), another house brought lasagna.
Be that house. Bring the lasagna.
Be the Village
Do you remember the days of the village?
It’s how you and I grew up!
We ran around during the summer days, from backyard to backyard, with our crew of neighborhood friends. Our neighbors sat outside on their porch, and occasionally called us over for a glass of lemonade.
On Halloween, nearly every house had their porch light on, happy to pass out goodies to us kids. These days it makes me sad to see more than half of our neighborhood dark and shuttered to keep the kids away.
We have morphed into a society where we are so afraid to offend, insult or say the wrong thing in person, that we barely acknowledge one another on the sidewalk.
At the same time we feel no qualms whatsoever about diving right into people’s very intimate lives via social media.
Though I saw something recently that gave me hope for bringing back the village. That perhaps it’s not too late.
One of my friends recently posted photos of herself on Instagram hanging bouquets on her neighbors’ doors.
How sweet is that?
We can all do these small simple things to show our friends and our neighbors that we are there for them. A community doesn’t build itself. WE have to do that.
Be that mom. Be the village.