We all know the saying about the multitude of different people, playing different roles, it takes to raise a child. This past weekend I really felt the blessing of the village my girls are growing up in. It’s a fluid thing, changing as they grow, as we grow, as people enter and exit, as activities start and stop, as affinities wax and wane. Our village today was not our village yesterday, nor will it be the same village tomorrow. But we’ve got one, and that’s something to celebrate.
This wasn’t always the case. When Dot was three months old we moved from the Seattle area, where we had both lived there a few years. We had formed a somewhat haphazard community of family, friends, co-workers, mentors, etc. Then we moved five hours away to a small town on the Oregon Coast.
Where we knew no one.
Granted we netted an hour closer to Portland, where my whole family lives and many of my friends are. But an hour closer still meant two hours away. We lived as an island of a familial unit for about a year and a half. There was no one to baby-sit. No one to call when my car broke down or when Dot got her first, scarily high, fever at 10 months. Eventually we found a little footing. We made acquaintances in town. We met like-minded people when we threw ourselves into Obama’s campaign for Presidency. I joined MOPS and we visited nearby churches. Still, it was a precarious time.
Ultimately, it made us a strong and secure family unit.
The downside to our isolation was an infant that would have nothing to do with anyone other than mommy and daddy. When, at nine months, we left her with my mom and sister for our second night out as parents (the first was a brief dinner at three months when she was too little to miss us) she screamed the entire time. Dot was attached.
She was also lonely.
Of course, she got plenty of undivided attention. Of course, she was the center of our world. But she needed to interact with other kids. Dot really blossomed when she began preschool. Eighteen months later we’ve gotten to know some of the families and it is a true joy to see these kids grow up together.
This weekend we went to one kid’s birthday partiy and it was a relief to know so many parents, to have had recent playdates, attended other parties, and maintained near daily interaction on Facebook. This is a big part of our village.
Other parts of our village include friends and family near and far. Some we see often, some occasionally, others we keep up with on Facebook, through emails and letters, packages and holiday cards. Thanks to social media there are people that I consider to be part of our village that I’ve never met, or haven’t seen for years.
This weekend we also had a get-together with what I think will become a new facet of our village. Part of my, at times dichotomous, journey of mother and student has been a feeling of uniqueness. Which is a nice way of saying I’ve felt left out. I couldn’t be further from a typical college student. Nor am I typically nontraditional. I’m not returning to school after a long absence. I’m not looking to bolster a current career.
To make matters worse I straddle two co-horts. I entered with one and will leave with another. That’s where having a baby in the midst of a two-year program will put you. It was a weird place of kind-of-but-not-really belonging. And then I found two other classmates in the same boat.
No really, the exact same boat.
Three women. Three babies (girls, no less!). Three moms. Three families.
Three years to get through this program.
We all got together for dinner last night and it was an incredibly positive experience. I left feeling so grateful for the community my children are growing up in. Some of it we built. Some of it built us. Some of it we stumbled upon. Some of it is in progress. But all of it is a blessing, as well as brace for when the times get tough. All of it is what makes the weekends fun and the weekdays possible.
Thank you. To all of you. And you all know who you are.
Actually, I think it takes both 😉