I’ve heard that it takes a village to raise a child. Why that might be the easiest and most supportive option for parents, what do you do when you have no village? What do you do when you have no family near to help you build those village walls?
For us, there is no family member that we can call on when one of our children is sick. Our closest family member is four hours away. There is no grandparent that can come over on a whim when we suddenly want or need a night out. Our village is just us.
Yet somehow we make it work.
During storms, we batten down hatches. We switch our work shifts when one child is sick. “You work 8am to 1pm and I’ll work 1pm-5pm,” I tell my husband as we juggle schedules when one of our kids is sick.
Our rare nights out sometimes don’t include each other. I stay home with the kids if he wants to see a movie or vice versa if I need a night out with friends.
In the summertime, we panic for about eight weeks. Who is going to watch the kids? Where will they go? Yet, somehow we make it work.
We juggle. We make phone calls. We use ALL of our vacation time and spend it at home so that the kids don’t end up going to a summer camp they hate.
We ask for favors. We talk to our employers. We spend extra quality time with our kids since they don’t see family very often.
We make and we keep good friends. We ask for help from these friends when there is a threat of a village collapse.
We stay strong as a family by getting along. We take pride that we’re getting by.
We make our own traditions. We make sure that our children know that we love them and that we’re always here for them.
We build small but strong walls that can resist a hurricane. We make these walls even stronger when something challenges us.
In some ways our small village makes us work harder… Yet we appreciate our small family more. My husband and I know we can’t be successful without being able to depend on each other.
We rejoice when we made it through another summer of juggling and the kids are happy.
We teach our kids that we will always be there for them.
We take pride in the fact that we’re making it.
We teach our children that even a small village is still a village.

Erica Sutherland

E. Sutherland resides in California with her husband and two children. Along with working full-time and being a mom (which is her favorite job!) she also writes in her spare time. Every essay is inspired by her children.