I need a village.

It’s those lonely nights spent rocking a baby back to sleep while looking around at the laundry that needs folding, the bills that need paying, and the dogs that need walking when I realize I can’t do this all alone. Well, it’s those nights and those following mornings when I can no longer button my “feeling-fat-today” jeans since I’ve spent the last year stress eating Nutella by the jar and am already 45 minutes late to start the morning routine. Yep, those are the times.

Those are the times I need a village.

I need a village because I can’t do all of this alone.

I can’t keep the tiny humans alive while also holding down a job or running a household. I can’t make nutritionally balanced meals while also trying to clothespin laundry from the doorways and rafters because there’s not enough money to buy a new dryer. I can’t make lasting memories and meaningful connections while I’m too busy crying as I try to wash the dishes.

I need a village to support me, to hold me up and push me forward. I need a village to love my children, love my family, and tolerate this needy stage of my life. I need a village that I can love back, to offer my own support, to know that I’m not alone in this hectic, messy journey of life and that I’ve got people in my corner. Even more than just people, I’ve got a whole village.

I know that I need this village. This help. This support.

But as I look around, my corner seems pretty empty.

I’ve got kids who fill me up, a husband who props me up, and a coffee pot that keeps me up. And the process of asking for help, the help that I need, the open invitation to join my village, is more terrifying than the prospect of running on empty for the next 18+ years.

Did I miss the lesson in the Mom 101 course that covered how to build a village? Do I make yard signs, staple posters on telephone poles, hand out mom-business cards at the grocery store? Place help wanted ads, radio spots, or rent out a square on the local diner’s disposable placemats? Do I need to put on a smelly cartoon character costume and dance at the end of my driveway? What do I even say?

“Wanted: Need humans to form village. Desperate, needy, exhausted, burnt-out mom seeks support. Must love dogs and young children. Pay is nothing, and reciprocation unlikely.”

I need a village. A tribe. A posse. A hype team. Heck, I’d even settle for an entirely dysfunctional sitcom coffee shop squad. It’d be cool if we had jackets, but I’m trying to keep realistic expectations.

I need people in my corner, next door, and just a few minutes away.

I need moms I can drink wine with after the kiddos fall asleep, moms I can sip Kool-Aid with while we catch up on the latest Paw Patrol episode (don’t pretend you don’t want to see what happens), moms I can eat a bucket of queso with and lament over our “feeling-fat-today” jeans not fitting.

I need grandmothers to rock sick babies to sleep with soothing lullabies and reassurances that I don’t need to rush to the Emergency Department for that fever (and gentle nudges when I do). Grandmothers to plan an overnight stay for me to have a slim chance at a date night. Grandmothers to bake cookies, build forts, and read stories when I’m stuck on an overnight work trip.

I need that neighborly medicine woman who knows when kids are sick and how to help. Who’s seen it all, seems to know it all, and loves all. Who will pat me on my back gently, and murmur “you’re doing a great job” on her way out while texting her village to start a prayer chain.

I need those friends who silently sneak in to switch my laundry and offer to run to the store for a gallon of milk. Friends who text me to remind me to take my vitamins, take a break, and offer to push a stroller as we go on a walk. Friends who know I’m not that great at asking for help and will ask others in our village for me when I’m too afraid or too far down in those trenches to say what I really need.

I need a team that’s four-deep to cover babysitting. I need dads to carpool with and to bring beer to my husband, who’s serving as my one-man village momentarily. Grandfathers to mow the lawn and water the flowers when we’re at the hospital with a sick kiddo. Aunts and uncles to deliver takeout, send “thinking of you” texts, and plan summertime hot dog roasts. Neighbors to deliver meals, smile and wave like they didn’t hear me losing it through the open kitchen window, and offer to walk the dogs.

I moved away from my family, from the village my parents had built for me. And my introverted self has kept me from making lasting relationships in my new home.

And with each kid, I find it harder and harder to raise my hand and say “I need help”.

Because I need more than help, I need a village. I’m overwhelmed and can’t do this alone.

Will you be in my village?

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Katelyn Stoll

Katelyn Stoll is a mother to three young boys and lives on a farm in rural NY. She navigates the rough waters of postpartum mood disorders using humor, support from her family, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.