While I think it’s beyond true that it takes a village to raise a child, recently I’ve had the revelation that it takes a village to raise a mother.
And for this new mom, I have a big, beautiful, kind and generous village. And I honestly don’t know if I could “raise” Charlie without my village. Besides needing me for milk, diaper changes and keeping slightly dangerous objects out of his mouth, it seems like Charlie is already so good at figuring life out. It’s me, his often anxiety ridden mom who needs the raising, the nurturing, the comforting.
Got a child? You need a village.
Oh your babe will likely be fine. Seriously. Babies are amazing. But you? You, who haven’t slept well since the end of your second trimester and find a bag of dinner and dessert on your doorstep from a neighbor down the street (who, you might add has three kids, including twins of her own)? You, who may have walked three miles with your not-really-napping child only to discover you’ve done so with your nursing bra unstrapped and your lovely (and blue veiny) breasts peeking out for all the world to see through your tank top?
Yeah, you need a village.
You need meals, and baby clothes, and someone’s shoulder who might contain the exact amount of spit up as yours to cry on. You need a village to talk a walk around the block with, you need a village you can access via the Internet to send the 100th photo of your now somewhat-napping-child eating (smearing) bananas and sweet potatoes. You need a village of men, women, mothers, and grandmothers, neighbors, friends, great aunts and single friends who laugh hysterically when you text: “Mom hangover is the worst. Seriously considering daycare. And Taco Bell.” (Note: send that text to your friends. Not your mom after your first night out with your girlfriends once the wee lad is in bed and Dad is settled in for a quite evening, free of your constant questions: are you sure we should feed him homemade carrots? I think I read somewhere about nitrates…)
Your village should contain neighbors of the grandparent set who bestow you plants for your garden and gush when they can take your son on a garden tour at their house. In your village (think BIG now, not just some hut. But it’s totally OK if your village is a hut. The borders of your village should be wide.) you’ll have your mom who’s always on cellphone standby, who can distinguish between teething and an ear infection over the phone, and in less time than it takes your rather attractive pediatrician to wash his hands during the check up, because you scheduled one justincase. And your mother in law? She also knew it was teething too. Always check in with the grandmothers. They know pretty much everything.
It’s extremely helpful if your village contains other moms who’s babes are around the same age, because in the early months you’ll both be up at 3:34 am nursing and need someone to reach out to. You both understand that meeting for a walk at 10:00am with the babes tucked in their strollers will happen at 10:21, 10:45 or not at all. Or will happen for 6 minutes, and then someone will fuss, cry and have a major poop explosion. You also need moms who’s kiddos are a few years older, because well, they’ve lived/survived through the first year. They also have lots of great gear they’re willing to share. They know you need a hot dinner, a beer to bitch about your husband and they will certainly entertain your barrage of questions and fears, like: “There’s a major thunder and lightening storm, and well, it’s Charlie’s first. And! Oh no! The power’s out and it shut off the baby monitor. Is it weird that I’m on all fours crawling into his room to figure out how to reset it? Do you think he’s scared? Is he OK?”
Response: “Is he asleep? Did he sleep through you crawling into this room? He is fine. And stop going in his room!”
Luck and blessings don’t even begin to describe my village. Fortunate is a prayer that hangs on my tongue. Joyful: he’s sitting up! First words: Mom! My village is there, ready to celebrate and share in my excitement of these milestones. Tearful: he won’t sleep! I’m exhausted! He’s teething and in such pain! There is my village, offering a hug, a sigh and all the support in the world that is needed to raise a child.
Raising a baby? Yes. But also, simultaneously, raising a mother.
And I have my village to thank.