Home > Parenting > It Takes a Village, but the Village has Changed

It Takes a Village, but the Village has Changed

Like my daughter’s village, when things get stressful we link arms, and hope for the best.

Most of us don’t live with extended family in our homes like our ancestors of yesterday. Our houses or apartments aren’t bursting with in-laws and grandparents, uncles and aunts are not on the other side of the thin wall. Chaotic family dinners are not a nightly occurrence, but reserved for Thanksgiving and special birthdays.

Although we don’t have to listen to our mother-in-law drone on about her gravy everyday, she isn’t around to make chocolate chip cookies, either. Or to hold our infant when our two-year old falls off the swing. Or to babysit for that far too occasional date-night.

I live on the opposite coast of Canada from my family, and my in-laws are an hour’s drive away. Raising three children, there have been times when I could have used that village, but it wasn’t physically there. The miles were gaping, and I was my own island.

At first, it was lonely. Used to the buzz of an office filled with co-workers, I missed adult interaction. But slowly and steadily, I met other mothers with infants, and we bonded over chitchat of breastfeeding and stain removal. My mom friends advised me where to find the best highchairs and how to soothe my baby to sleep. They taught me how to use sign language before my child could speak, advised which laundry detergent to try when skin rashes arose.

My mom friends walked me through first playdates, and took my toddler to swimming lessons when I had another baby to care for. When I miscarried, they brought dinners and muffins while I sat on the sofa and cried. Sometimes, the only time I would speak with an adult during daylight hours was at the doorstep of my daughters playdates, where we would discuss drop off and pick up times, and then discuss life. Those five minutes made a big difference in my day.

My mom friends have morphed and changed overtime, as children move schools and choose other best friends and different activities. Now, my children are in school and involved in sports. Since it’s hard to be in three places at the same time, my mom friends arrange carpools and cheer on my kids when I can’t be there. They tell me who is doing what on the playground according to the rumour mill. They are the eyes that are watching one of my kids when my own eyes are across town watching another. They have my back.

It still takes a village to raise a child, and my village consists of my husband, myself, and my mom friends. By this point in time, of course, my mom friends have become, simply, my friends. We get together for hikes, family dinners, and sit side by side at assemblies (and soon, graduation). We volunteer in rain, snow, sleet and, less frequently, sunshine. We huddle together and shudder at the thought of high school and the teenage years. We have been known to party.

It’s not always easy being a parent, but my friends make my life both easier, and so much richer. My village doesn’t live underneath one roof, but rather is scattered in different pockets along the North Shore, an extended Block Watch from days past. When my own two arms are not enough to hold what needs holding, I have others outstretched behind me, catching what falls through the cracks. And luckily for me, my village loves to dance.

Here’s to my village; I couldn’t do this without you.

  1. May 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    What a great tribute to your friends, Deanna–the women who have become like family to you, who enrich your life and make it easier to have your family at a distance. Happy Monday.

  2. May 29, 2012 at 2:29 am

    what a lovely post 🙂

    • May 29, 2012 at 3:49 am

      Thanks! I don’t pay enough tribute to these women in the whirlwind of life.

  3. Laurie
    May 29, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Hurray for your “circle of we”!

    • May 29, 2012 at 3:51 am

      You would know a few of these suspects, of course!

  4. Terri
    May 29, 2012 at 3:04 am

    I could not agree more! I honestly don’t know where I would be without my village made of mom friends. I am so happy that you are a part of my village.

    • May 29, 2012 at 3:55 am

      You are a huge part of this village – and luckily a much more organized member than myself. Thanks for keeping me on track, and for all that you do.

  5. May 29, 2012 at 4:27 am

    I totally agree, even with my parents here, my village of friends on the west side over here are precious!

    • May 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      Seriously, where would we be without these peeps (besides home alone, with no activities in sight.) My children could never participate at this level of sports without the tremendous amount of help they give me.

  6. May 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Deanna, I love this post more than I can even say. We moved away from my family right after Thomas was born. I didn’t know how to be a mom, how to leave my 9-5 job, how to cope and I had a village of mom friends that swooped in to save me.

    • May 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      Of course as I was writing this, I was thinking of the millions of other women who were having the same experience as myself – being helped by women who are resourceful, empathetic, and often, one step ahead of me! Okay, maybe a mile; but someone needs to bring up the rear.

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