I remember my first few months of motherhood like it was yesterday. Everything was new and it was a colossal foreign realm — a mix of frenzy, fear and elation. Then and now, do I still hear the well-intentioned words from people around me : “You need a break!” or the ever so famous: “It takes a village!” Yes, it does take a village. I can agree with that. But what exactly is the village? Only after my second child and a move far away from the most vital village I had, did I realize what the village meant.
“I felt alone. I didn’t have a village.”
Admittedly there have been many moments in my motherhood years that I felt so alone. I envied the mothers around me with such a huge village.
The ones that were able to easily call up a friend or family member to watch their child for the evening or the one whose pal pops by with a large latte and some freezer meals.
Even the ones that could so easily get on the phone and pour themselves out to another that just understood them without any judgement.
I never related to other moms that were Instagramming their cheerful smiles, wine in hand surrounded by girlfriends on a Friday night or gathered together for stroller runs.
I was just never that mother.
Sometimes I felt like this was yet another thing I may have failed at in motherhood. That fact that I didn’t build that village that I should have had.
I grew up with a smaller circle. A small but a very mighty one.
I have a small family and my parents and my sister were my only real, true circle… my village.
When we moved to a new town, my village became a mere shadow in the distance.
It wasn’t as easy as it use to be to have a night alone with my husband or simply run out and pick up groceries without the children in tow.
And ME time? If that meant getting in a quick bath or scoring a weekend hair appointment, then yes, that is the closest I could get to my me time. And oh how I cherish those me times.
I remember a mother at my daughters school telling me one time that she was so upset that she had to head out to run errands with her kids because her husband wasn’t available and nobody could babysit. She was dreading it with every fibre of her being as if it was the most terrible thing in the world. She told me she couldn’t last being alone with her kids for too long.
That was hard to hear. I don’t know what she’s going through personally, and I’m never one to judge but really? I’m with my kids almost 24-7 and although there are days they drive me up the wall (okay MANY days), I’m their mother. It’s part and parcel of this very important role we play. I always remind myself that they are only little for so long and that one day they will not want to be around me so much.
Besides (and realistically speaking), I’m even lucky if I ever get to coordinate an agreed upon date for my parents to babysit for a few hours. *sigh*
Maybe I was a little jealous that she was able to get that help very easily, but mostly, I was quite sad for her.
“Not every mother I met could be a friend.”
What I learned about not having a village was how very lonely it could be. That not every mom you meet can be a friend.
I also learned the importance of creating your own village. A village that you trust. And that a village doesn’t have to be big to be sufficient and valuable.
I learned the value in the people that you trust and that love you and your children as much as you do. I also learned to truly treasure the quiet moments alone with my husband and the times I do get to be alone (because yes, it is necessary and healthy).
I may not have a village, but I have love, lots of it. And I’m happy. My kids are happy.
That’s what matters the most.
Dear Mom without a Village:
Your village is there. You power it and it’s great because you make it great.
Your strength is immense and even greater than you could imagine because us village-lacking mama’s are mostly really doing it on our own. And what a self-respecting and honourable feat!
One day your kids will grow up, and maybe or maybe not build their own mighty village, but will learn to admire you for the way they were raised. They will know strength and fortitude like no other, thanks to you.
I know what it’s like to sometimes wish you had the village that others have, but I also know what it’s like to grow through it.