Its a proverb exists in different forms in many African languages.
'It takes a whole village to raise a child. 'The basic meaning is that child's upbringing is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the larger family (sometimes called the extended family). Everyone in the family participates especially the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins.
I know what it means, I've just never had it for my children.
I've seen many movies and TV shows that would make me wish I lived inside the TV. All the big family parties, dinners around a large table with all the babies playing together. Cousins, siblings & friends.
I know what my child is missing because I had that. 30 years ago things where different I think its safe to say families where different.
We had no devices, kids looked up from the TV, we all had families with a couple of kids early on in our lives so the family dynamics where different to now. I grew up with big family BBQs and running around playing with my cousins even know we lived hours away from them I seen them often.
Another saying that comes to mind is
' You don't know what you got until its gone'
I miss what my family use to be like but now we all live hours away from each other, the great grandparents are gone and I am the only one in my family who has young children as all my cousins had children before me they are now teenagers plus.
The "village" is your support network. It doesn't have to be family but its people in your life that help, care for you & your child. It's another family who are willing to have your kid over for an afternoon who see that your child needs dinner before going home so just does it.
It's a friend who comes over for a cuppa only to end up washing your dishes while you have a shower & watch bub. It's someone you can confide, share your worries with and you don't feel judged. It's people you can count on to answer the phone in the middle of the night because you someone to watch your child while you take the other to the hospital . That's your village.
I have with both my children ended up in tears sitting on the floor wondering where my village was :(
In those first years of motherhood life can be scary, I can see how a village would help.
I have many times heard mothers talk about how over worked they are, that they don't get time with their husband, how they don't get to go out & do anything to relax..... and I start to relate to them. Talk a little about how its hard being a parent and then the classic bombshell comes out of their mouth "yer my parents only have them once a fortnight" or the " if it wasn't for my sister having them after school I don't know what I would do' are you kidding me??
I just smile & let them continue, there is no point in trying to get them to see my point of view they don't get it They have a village, they wont understand.
I tried once to bring it up with a mum at playgroup, she acted all caring but didn't get it you could tell. She was planning her 4th child & I could see how having a 4th didn't worry her because she was going to get meals brought over by loved ones, friends family coming over to help clean or watch bub, friends who can have the other children while she went shopping, if she is sick her husbands parents can have the kids when hubby is at work plus her husband is a good help around the house - lets not get me started on my loving but bad housekeeping husband. Of course she can have lots of kids she has a village.
Me & my husband have gone 12 months without being together without at least one child with us.
We would each go outside of the house separate while the other has the kids but never in that 12months and again off and on over the last 14 years have we been out just him & me no children.
I couldn't even imagine two nights away without children, maybe my heart couldn't handle it anyway.I admit, I want to slap that mum who tells me life is hard with only a handful of people in her life who she can ask for help.
My first child I was young , had lots of childless friends, no family in town & my husband family didn't want to offer much help so I know what I am talking about.
Same again with 2nd child .My husband and I had just moved to a new state and didn't have many friends. We didn't have a village; we were on our own.
Both times we where enough for each other. It made us have to be ok. There was no other choice.
To the mum's who are like me without a village :
- I know what it's like to wish you could just call someone over to watch the baby while you take a shower but have no one.
- I know what it's like being the first in your friend group to have a baby, no one understand & your lives go in different directions. It becomes hard work to keep them.
- I know you feel lonely and isolated.
- I know what it's like to never be able to go to the movies in the first two weeks of its release or ever!
- I know what its like to see 'romantic holidays for two' and think 'who'd watch the kids'?
- I know that even an occasional babysitter cost money, money that you may not have & its just seems not worth it.
- I know you might have family members who would help out if you made them but you don't because its not right, they are aged or live to far away.
Not having a village has made me a good parent. Not that I am saying having a village makes you a bad one or even not as good a parent.
I just know for me I can now see what it has taught ME and how it has made me a good parent aswell as my husband. I know about loneliness in motherhood. I learned that not all mums I met i could be friends with, also learning to keep trying to contact because one will come along who can be my friend.
I learnt that making friends when your old is hard work. But that I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not. I learnt I can be enough parent for my children. I learnt to trust my own mother instinct, because when your stuck at home with a cry toddler - husband at work - you have to trust you know your child and whisper to yourself ' I can do this' because no one else is around to tell you.
Ultimately, it makes you think twice about having another child. Its hard lonely work. I had to wait and make sure I was ready because I know its just me who needs to be complete willing to take it on myself first and foremost as my husband is a great dad but it has and always will be me the main care giver. That's just how our marriage works & to think it will change is doing both of us a injustice ??
So no I don't have a village but I am ok with that ... mostly :)