When the girls were little and Matt worked a million hours a week (okay, so only 100 hours a week), life was hard for me. I was overwhelmed and tired. I lived day to day and sometimes it was hour to hour. There were many days where I watched the clock tick slowly.
During those early days lots of things were hard. Taking 3 kids under 3 to the doctor, making 3 healthy meals a day, and keeping up with laundry (that never happened!). Some days I felt like all I did was clean up after everyone else. That’s not even to mention the loneliness I felt. Isn’t it odd how you can be surrounded by little people who talk nonstop and feel so incredibly alone? The loneliness may have been the hardest part.
During those days it was hard for me to practice self care. Some days, peeing alone was the best I could do – and I was thrilled to have that.
It’s now 5 years later and I find myself with what I never thought I’d have: hours of quiet. All 3 girls are in school all day – that means that I’m alone from 8:30 am – 3:00 pm. While I still feel like I don’t have time to do all the things I want to do (my laundry is still not done!), I finally feel like I have time to give to others.
I’ve given a lot of thought over the years about they idea of having a village. As a kid, we played outside all day and the neighbors watched out for each other. We knew there was always someone watching and you bet we listened to all the adults. We don’t have that kind of village today and I’m okay with that. That’s not the kind of village I want. I know my neighbors and I have different values, morals, ethics, and parenting styles so I’m okay with being the one who’s solely responsible for my kids. I prefer it that way.
The village I want is different:
It’s a village where people bring each other dinner if they’re tired or sick.
It’s the village where people watch each other’s kids when someone has a doctor’s appointment.
It’s the village where you call a friend to complain about how bad the morning went and they tell you it’s okay – one bad morning doesn’t make you a bad mom.
It’s a village where when you ask if people can get together because you need adult interaction, they say, “When?”
I’m building that village now. I’m surrounding myself with people who I know would do any of those things for me and I would do those things for them. In fact, I work hard at filling each day with one act of being the village.
Go out and BE THE VILLAGE.
I think that once our children are more independent, it’s our responsibility to be this kind of village for others. It’s important to give, especially to others who may not be in a position to give back. Don’t do it with the intention of getting something reciprocated. If everyone worked hard to be the village, you’ll find your villagers, as well.
- Give because it’s the best thing you can do to help another parent maintain their sanity.
- Give because you know you would have appreciated it.
- Give because kindness is contagious and it’ll be paid forward.
- Give because other parents are worth the investment. During those early years it’s only normal for parents to question themselves and their sanity.
- Give so you can reinforce their worthiness and importance in the world.
Be the village.
If you’re not in a season of your life right now where you can’t be the village, which all parents totally understand, that’s okay. Be the village when you can. It took me 5 years so I’m making the most of it now.
What can you do for another parent today? Let me know in the comments!
Need some ideas of what you can do for others?
- Deliver a cup of coffee
- Hang out with a child in the waiting room while their parent has a doctor appointment
- Take a friend dinner
- Write someone a note to tell them you’re thinking of them
- Take a photo of something they’ll love and text it to them
- Tell them they’re doing a great job
- Ask how you can help
- Bake them some cookies
- Deliver a bottle of wine or a 6 pack of beer
- Sit with them while they do something routine like clean their kitchen
- Fold laundry
- Hand down baby clothes
Click here to read a letter to my first mom friends
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