Recently we visited DC to celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of the child that Adam used to manny for. It was a wonderful day and I was probably a little too hormonal to be witnessing any type of rite of passage (I was teary the whole time). The best part of the day was getting to see her whole “village” there to celebrate her transition into adulthood. Adam was an important part of her village when she was three years old and has remained part of the family. Watching the community of people that her parents were able to create for her definitely got me thinking and appreciating our little village.
We are fortunate to live near lots of family. Ellis’ grandparents live just a few houses away. Uncle Danny and “Uncle” Brenda are just down the road, And Uncle Andy, Aunt Stacy and Cousin Blake will become our neighbors in the next few months. But we are doubly blessed to have a lot of “like-family” people in our lives too. One of Calvin’s Godmothers, Maggie, is always available to hold Cal when we are down a set of hands and need to put big brother to bed. Our 88 year old neighbor is just steps away and she reads with Ellis every Wednesday (and I get to relax and read my own book during their reading dates). These small interactions are huge helps in our life. Our village is definitely instrumental in raising our children.
Building our village hasn’t always been easy, especially since we live in the middle of nowhere and we moved here just before we started having kids. At the beginning of parenting we found our village in unexpected places. For a while when Ellis was little our village was the kind employees of the Habitat for Humanity store who would let Ellis push the dolly around when I really needed a break. I was very grateful for the kindness of virtual strangers on days that Adam was out of town for work and I just needed someone else to interact with my child for a few minutes.
Nowadays our village is more intentional. We ended up creating a great playgroup with kids from our local library. It is fantastic to have parent friends who are in the same moment of the trenches. I am sure that the couple of hours a week that Ellis is able to play with his peers benefits him, but truly playgroup is as much for me as it is for Ellis. I need to check in with other moms and dads to stay sane. It takes a village to raise a child and a mama.