“It takes a village to raise a child.”
It’s an adage we’ve all heard, but there was a time not too long ago when I discounted its worth.
I’ve always been the kind who doesn’t like to ask for help. Pre-kids, it was “No, I don’t need help with that project,” and, “No, I don’t need help planning my classroom party.”
After my first son was born, it turned into, “No, I don’t need help getting him to sleep,” and “No, I don’t need your advice on parenting.”
Whether it was my pride, or just my stubborn desire to be in control and have things done how I wanted them, I didn’t take advantage of the help so many people offered me.
There were many times I was that mom in the store with a screaming baby, a huge diaper bag, and an overflowing cart who, when asked if I needed help out to my car, would smile over my shoulder and flippantly say, “No thanks, I’ve got this!”
And truthfully, when I only had one kid, I usually did have it. I had one fewer baby than I had hands, and I usually felt pretty confident in my abilities.
Once my second son was born, my stubbornness began to flake away bit by bit. Whether or not I wanted to admit it, I needed help sometimes. Once I decided to embrace the village mentality, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders.
It’s OK to need people.
For me, they’re my sons’ grandparents. The ones who will pause their lives at the drop of a hat to help out or to take the boys if we have somewhere we need to be sans-kids. The ones who will make us dinner and spend the entire evening playing with our babies. The ones who will help us tackle those “to-dos” that we’ve been putting off.
They’re my sons’ aunts and uncles. The ones who love them fiercely and will spend tireless hours entertaining them. The ones who bring back souvenirs from their travels and share stories of the great wide world outside of our tiny little corner. The ones who will dive right into helping with last-minute details of a birthday party.
They’re my sons’ great-grandparents. The ones who love our kids with every ounce of their being. The ones who spoil them—but not too much. The ones who will watch our sons on those days when this mama is exhausted and just needs some time. Time to bask in silence, time to stay in the shower until the water runs cold, time to be “Me” instead of “Mom.”
It’s my best friend who treats our kids as if they are her own. The one who would do anything for them. The one who isn’t afraid to discipline them or take advantage of those teachable moments. The one who asks about them daily. The one who is years ahead of me in this parenting gig and has the knowledge to boot.
And above all, it’s my husband. The man who spends long hours at work, then walks in the door with a smile and takes over kid duty so I can have a much-needed moment to breathe. The man who plays, and cooks, and loves, and brushes teeth, and reads bedtime stories.
Could I raise these sweet sons of mine all by myself? Probably. Would I still have my sanity intact? Debatable. Would my babies feel as overwhelmed with love, support, and comfort as they do being surrounded by these people? No way.
So yes, it takes a village.
Some days I still try to kid myself with, “I got this.” Sometimes I’m still stubborn and don’t want help. There are moments when I still want things done my way, and only my way; but I’m working on embracing my village—and Lord knows I am so thankful for it.