The Village I Built
When I got pregnant with our first child I was blissfully unaware of what was about to become my life. My mom visited me prior to giving birth and was there to support me for a week and a half once Maelle was earth side. My sister flew in right after we gave birth and even her husband took a bus to come visit us and meet our new family member for a weekend. My dad was able to come for a quick visit, taking a few days off of work to be here in the beginning. The day they left, my mother and father in law arrived for 2 weeks. Everyone took turns helping me make meals, taking Maelle so I could shower and sleep, and supporting me as I recovered from labour and delivery and the absolute overwhelming chaos that is becoming a mom for the first time. And then they all left. Not because that’s how anyone wished things would go but simply because that is our life. They all have houses, jobs, family members, and careers waiting for them where they live and we have all of that here. But shortly after our company left and the loneliness set in, I wondered to myself (because I had nobody else to wonder aloud to) “where the hell was my village? I need a freaking village. They say it takes a village and I am absolutely villageless.”
And years from this moment of sheer panic, I am in my house hosting a playdate, like I have countless times before and I watch as our kids play together. We used to sit in a circle on the floor and just hold our babies as they cooed or cried, unaware of the friendships and bonds we were unintentionally forging between them. Now, they play together, chasing each other around while holding proper conversations with one another. The doorbell rings and Maelle bounds to the front entrance to greet another friend whose mom follows closely behind and is holding a younger sibling not far in age from Linden. We greet each other as moms often do, exhausted as we multitask, telling our oldest children to take off their shoes, wrangling our younger children as they squirm in our hands while we remove their shoes for them, all while holding a diaper bag and a snack that’s been prepared to share with the group.
We sit around our kitchen island drinking coffee and chatting. We attempt to catch up with one another but are interrupted countless times. One child sits crying while another insists that they had the toy first. Another child clings to one of our legs asking for something that we can’t understand. A couple of children ask for snacks and water. One baby falls and hurts themselves and screams as somebody rushes to them and kisses away whatever may be causing them pain. The older children would like us to get out art supplies, play dough, the bouncy slide; you name it, they want it. It is always something and us moms are always there to assist as needed. We pause our thoughts mid-sentence, stop drinking our hot coffees halfway through, put down one incomplete task to ensure that the children’s needs are met.
I can’t help but think to myself that these women, who buzz around my living room with the comfort and familiarity of longtime friends are some pretty extraordinary human beings. And I am lucky enough to know them only because we have kids relatively close in age and we bonded in some way because of that. I listen as my daughter tells me that she wants to show one of these women her brand new outfit, thinking that she will definitely appreciate her sense of style. I watch as my son actively seeks the hands of them to take up the big slide at our favourite play place because he knows that they will willingly go. I see them scoop my children into their loving arms and offer them comfort, just as they would do with their own kids when they are hurt or upset. And I watch as my children accept this comfort, burying their head into a shoulder as their tears quickly dry so they can return to play. I catch glimpses of these women when they are completely oblivious to the fact that I’m even watching, as they tickle my child into fitful giggles or chase them as they scream with glee. I am aware of the trust I put in these ladies, asking them to watch my kids as I run to the bathroom, grab napkins, or order myself the coffee I so desperately need. I am mindful of the fact that these women are the ones I will call on if ever there is an emergency that I need help with, if ever I can’t cope with the obstacles directly in my path. These women have baked for me, cooked for me, gave me advice, listened to my fears, texted me to check up on my sick children, just supported me in the simplest yet most necessary ways.
These are the individuals I ask advice from and I trust the opinions of. These women stand shoulder to shoulder with me in the ever humbling job of motherhood and they give my imperfect children something that they don’t even know they need. They magnify the love I give to my kids by sweetening my journey, making me better, lightening my load, sharing in my insecurities, and by just being there.
I wasn’t lucky enough to have a built-in “village” available to me. I didn’t have the luxury of family living nearby who I could call on when I needed it. Instead, I grew my own village and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a pretty damn good village to have backing my children. So thank you, ladies. You know who you are. I am so very grateful for your friendship to me but I am forever indebted to you because of the love you show my kids. You aren’t kind to my children only when they are at their best, instead, you show them even more love when they are showing you their very worst versions of themselves. You show up when not even I want to show up and that is exactly what they mean when they say “it takes a village”.