Yesterday, I ventured out on my perfectly planned grocery shopping trip with my two toddlers in tow. I had my well planned grocery list in hand as I escaped the house with my lion cubs right after morning nap. I knew it would be a good time to go because we would arrive at snack time and they always give free cookies at the bakery. I got them in the cart and we made our way around the grocery store.
I noticed that there were a lot of middle aged women walking around childless with their little grocery baskets and their two-three items inside. I received a lot of complements about how beautiful and cute my little lion cubs are. I gave my patented responses to how I must have my hands full and wow, they are close in age. I proceeded to politely listen to their stories of how they missed the time when they had their children at home and how hard, but fun it was for them. Sometimes they mention how they wish they had had help or a personal chef and most times they offer their advice on how to make things easier for me. Without fail, they tell me to enjoy every moment because they don’t stay little for very long. I give them a smile and tell them I will try.
The thing about these conversations is that I never leave them feeling good. I tend to leave them feeling annoyed and frustrated. Its not their fault. They have good intentions, I hope. Here is what annoys me. Instead of telling me how hard it was and how you wished you had help or how you wished you had more time during those days to spend with your children, how about you help me. In those moments I dont actually mean they should help me personally, but I mean they should find some new mom they know, and help! Someone who knows me, should help me!
I have made a pact with myself to keep track of ways that I would like to receive help during these blurred days of my children’s early childhood. I made a promise to help new moms the moment I became a mom. Right now I help moms by sharing my experiences as I am walking along in the same trenches with them. I invite moms over for play dates and after bed time coffee dates. When my children are a little older and off to school I plan to find another way to help new moms. With every new stage of mother hood that I enter, I plan to reach out to those new moms. For some people, they enter mother hood with such poise and grace. Others enter motherhood like a run away train crashing into the side of a mountain. I was the latter. Even with all my experience working with children, I was not prepared for how life changing becoming a mother would be. I had such great friends who were also new mothers and an amazing husband who did and are helping me through all the unpredictability of being a mother. I realized how important it is to have a great support system, so I have made it my goal to build up a safe “village” around me and my friends and family.
I Guess my challenge to people reading this is simple. What does your “Village” look like? How are you helping people around you? Who is helping you raise your family? Children around the world are being raised by their villages around them. Neighbors, relatives and friends are helping to raise the children around them. All around the world. All around the world, except for here. Here in North America for some reason we are raising our children alone. Stay at home Mothers are literally staying home alone living from play date to play date. Some times going days without social interaction from other people other than their husbands or partners. These mothers, myself included, are keeping their children busy but not giving themselves a break. Mothers are isolating themselves and each other and just politely declining help because they may feel that it is a sign of weakness. I have heard a lot of self help speakers say that the weakness is in not asking for help. I believe that that also applies to building our villages. As a stubborn mother myself, i am so guilty of this. As my children get older I realize how important it is for them and for me to surround ourselves with people who we love and who love us. People who we can trust to help love and raise our children.
As Christians, my husband and I chose God Parents for our children. We prayed about it and picked people who we felt would raise our children in the closest way to our parenting style as possible. We want our children to find comfort in their arms. We want our children to grow to know God. We want our children to participate in activities that both my husband I would have them be involved in.This got me thinking. Would I expect their Guardians to do all that alone? No. I would expect for my family and extended family to rally around my children s God parents and help them with the burden. So, why am I not accepting the help now? Why am I thinking that I am so much better that I don’t need the support that I would want someone else to have. I am not better. If anything, I need more help. So Slowly but surely I am starting to change the small little world around me. I am opening my heart and arms to people around me. I am learning to ask for Help and give it! I am seeing the importance of relationships for both me and my children. Daily. Daily. Every single Day. My children need it. I need it. Its so important. My children are happier and I am happier since my family decided to create our village. Having that emotional and physical support is doing wonders.
Now, I just need someone to clean my house and cook our meals for free. Any takers?