It Takes a Village

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This concept, “It takes a village”, is nothing new. It comes from a Nigerian proverb “It takes a whole village to raise a child” which conveys the emphasis on the value of family relationships, self-sacrifice and caring for others as well as unity, hospitality and cooperation. It speaks to the involvement of a wider community in the raising of our children – our families, our neighbors, and friends. In 1996 Hillary Clinton, then First Lady of the United States, published a book on children and family values entitled “It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us” based on this same proverb.

With so much recognition of the need for our “village”, why are we so slow or stubborn to embrace this concept in our modern lives when, arguably, we need more help than ever before?

My own initial stubbornness to embrace this concept came from my unwillingness to admit that I can’t do it all. Before having my two children, I could do it all. Flawlessly. Deadlines were met, jobs got done both inside and outside the home, Christmas presents were purchased and wrapped before the last of the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers were eaten. Life was perfectly tied up with a pretty little bow. I wouldn’t ask for help because to me it made me feel as though I was weak.

Then I was blessed with my son and daughter. My husband and I opened a business. Eventually my husband went back to school full time. I continued to work full time. I tried to keep a little side business afloat. I could still do it all, right? So very, very wrong.

Schedules were a mess and suddenly, because of it all, the school year started and my kids were left without anyone to pick them up from school or to care for them until I or my husband could get home. Child care at the school was too expensive, my husband’s schedule was packed and couldn’t be changed, and my work hours could not be tweaked any more. I didn’t want to burden my family, who were all busy with their own lives. Besides, my Mom had already signed up to pick up the kids one day a week. I could have hired someone to pick them up but the idea of a stranger watching my kids terrified me.

I was in an absolute panic.

Then I decided to open my mouth and ask for help.

I called a friend who had her kids in the care of a nanny – a nanny that we knew and trusted and could depend on. We asked if we could have her take care of our kids for a couple of weeks until we could find a better arrangement. By the grace of God she agreed. Problem temporarily solved! She was able to do it, but not for the long term. That couple of weeks flew by quickly and we were back at square one.

Now what?

Again, I put my uneasiness aside and talked to another Mom about our dilemma. I laid out the chaos that was our life. She needed a few extra dollars and could work it out so that she could pick up both of my kids as well as her own. As a cherry on top, her girls were BFFs with my daughter. We knew her, loved her, and trusted her.

Both of these Moms have now become my good friends. Women that I can talk to, confide in, vent to. We help each other out as much as we can watching each other’s kids if schedules are off, if work gets in the way, or if someone just needs an hour to themselves for a trip to the gym or the grocery store. I offer up my services to take their girls anytime and they do the same. I can always say no if it doesn’t work with what is going on with our family but more often than not we can manage and help them out too. I know if I’m in a bind, I can reach out to them and ask for help. I never would have been able to manage it all without them. They, along with my immediate family, are my village.

We need to be less fearful of opening our mouths and asking each other for help. Less fearful of looking weak. We all need to realize that we are all human and could all use the support of one another. In order to manage the chaos, we need to unite with each other, be willing to help one another, and create our own village to raise our kids.

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