Do you have a village?
Is it your your mother, your sister, your moms group, your neighbor? Or maybe your best friend?
I am a few years removed now from my fussy and colicky newborns. But I am never removed from the day to day challenges that befall every family. Most days, support is great to have, but some days, it’s imperative.
When I had my daughter I relied on the help of my family and friends more than I think I ever realized. Friends kidnapped me to get me out. I went to my parents’ house every single day for 3 months. I had a village and I leaned on them. It’s how I survived.
Many people have to do it alone.
My parents moved to Canada from the United States when they were first married, and had no family and no friends here. Not one. Not any.
And then my brother was born. And his colic apparently makes my daughter’s look like a cakewalk. And they had no family support. They were new enough to the country that their non-family support system was limited at best.
My mother has often recounted the story of ‘the neighbor.’
My brother was screaming non-stop, and, as best I remember the story, my father had commiserated with a neighbor at the bus stop on their way to work about colicky newborns. The other man must have told his wife, because the next day, my mother had a knock at the door. A woman she had never met before was at the door. She knew my mother’s story, both the fact she had no family and that she had a colicky son, and wanted to offer support. She too had had a colicky baby and she had felt incredibly alone and incredibly scared. She knew how my mother must be feeling and wanted to offer her support, perspective and commiseration.
My mother went from feeling alone, to feeling like she had someone. It was life changing. It was my mom becoming a part of a village here.
I cannot understate how imperative a village is.
I realized it when I had my colicky babies. I realize it even more now. Because now, when I need it for reasons beyond my sanity, when it’s just to help with the day to day challenges every family faces, I realize I am never alone. And now, I realize even more that when I did need it for my sanity, it was there in spades, to the point where I didn’t even realize how much I relied on it, because it was so readily available. Villages don’t need to be the support of your next door neighbours. They don’t need to be traditional.
I have no shame in saying that the people I have met on the internet are a part of my village. Meeting other parents who experienced what we did, who get it, has made me feel less unique, in a good way. I have a moms group on line, which is comprised of some women I have never met face to face, yet who I consider to be some of my closest friends.
I have ‘IRL’ friends (in real life) who I consider family for all of the love and support they continuously offer, without asking for thanks or for a favour in return.
And I have family, without whom I’d probably long since have been committed.
The reality is that many people do not have family. Some people, like my parents, move to new towns, or new countries, and forge new lives with young families, and in theory, have no support.
But there are always local mom groups. And there are always online moms groups. No one needs to get through this life alone. Because there is always someone. And it’s hard to do it alone. It sucks to do it alone.
You don’t need to do it alone.
It takes a village.
Leslie lives in Toronto with her husband and 2 kids. She is presently on maternity leave and enjoying the hectic and harried life with two young children.
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