It takes a village. At least that’s what we’ve been told. One usually hears the phrase uttered at, or by, an exhausted mom in the throes of child rearing. Personally, I must admit the words have never held an endearing attribute to me. In fact, they tend to resemble the familiar ambiance of the expression “bless your heart”, uttered by a slick southern tongue and followed with a gentle, but judgmental head nod at the end. Let’s just say, I never feel “blessed”, and the village is never there when I need them.
A typical day in the village looks something like this; your morning starts uneventfully enough, coffee is brewed and served with a side of steaming hot guilt, the comparison game begins, Suzy Q down the street becomes your new family life expert, books are being ordered, outfits are being staged, and every parenting decision you have made up until now is brought into question. Discouraged and paralyzed you seek advice from the village at large and find your method to be antiquated, trending societal norms begin to come to mind, out of fear and exhaustion we think, “if everyone else is doing it”, and then fall into bed making resolutions that we have no plans to keep, all because the “village” thinks it’s best. I know, because I’ve been there. Now, having arrived at the outskirts of town, I’m here to say: I’ve seen the village and I don’t want them raising my child.
The word village, has such a disconnected and cold feeling to me. More situational and fluid, when what we long for is something communal. Particularly in today’s society, where everything is permissible and parenting is an adjective more often than a verb, I’m looking for expectations, standards, and common goals. What I desire as a parent is a framework to build within, not a prism dependent on time, place, and situation, but how can we create that if we are constantly rocking with the ebbs and flows of the latest village trend? Well, we can’t. Plain and simple.
This realization was a turning point for me. An “ahah!” moment in the vast sea of mom firsts. At this point, I was teetering on the edge of self-doubt; so, I took a deep breath and jumped in head first armed with a thing called instincts. You may have heard of this, it’s what our mothers, grandmothers, and the women before them used to raise children, turns out they can be quite handy. Choosing to believe in myself was an empowering step. I know my child best, and I know myself best, so where better to start molding one’s parenting style then with the clay itself. A weight was lifted. Decisions were made. The day continued and nobody died. We “survived” is frequently the end cap accomplishment for the day. Yes, I regularly reevaluate my decisions, brainstorm, implement new methods, scrap the plan entirely, but I consider that growth now, not failure and for the days that I’m not feeling so Pollyanna-ish I have my tribe.
Now, that might not sound too different from the aforementioned village, but to me it has an entirely different vibe. MY tribe consist of family, friends, community, people that are in our life by choice because they belong there. That doesn’t mean I’m exclusive to a “members only” policy, I’m always eager to welcome another into the clan, initiation ceremony and all, it just means I’m careful with the people I welcome into our space. There’s no doubt about it. Motherhood is draining, it’s physically, mentally, and emotionally more exhausting then anything I’ve ever done in my life and I’m just at the beginnings of this journey. But that’s where my support team, my tribe, my band of mothers, if you will, step in. When my momma heart needs a rest (or defibrillator depending on the day), that’s when I call on my tribe. It’s a phone call, a text, a long walk, a cuppa warmth, a heart post, an insta-feed, it’s a gentle word or a kick-in-the-pants, they always know my need. When I’m yearning for encouragement, relation, a little nugget of honesty-dare I say, authenticity even- I seek out my people. A community of common hearts. Truth speakers. Beautiful souls. A tangible picture of His love. A blessing in my every day. They are my tribe. I need them. As cliché as it sounds, you need them too. Find your tribe and love them hard.