People say that it takes a village – a village to raise kids.
However, what they leave out is how to find the village. It takes work, putting yourself out there, care and consideration to form YOUR village. I emphasize YOUR because it will not look like anyone else’s.
When starting out in motherhood, I looked around in wonder at all these moms who looked like they had it all together. I saw relationships, playdates, kiddos who knew each other, and it seemed as if everyone had someone. That was everyone but me.
What I did not realize was that they worked for this. It wasn’t like they woke up one day and people just showed up to form their village. Sure, some were there naturally, but the whole of it took work. It took me a while to realize it wasn’t me (or my son) who was preventing a village to form, but rather a lack of effort on my part. Reaching out of your comfort zone, putting yourself out there, and asking for help will help you take those first steps.
Trust me when I say, “If I can do this, anyone can.” I am a shy, introvert when you first meet me. Forming a village has taken me years, eight of them to be exact. This isn’t something that happens overnight.
So, How does one get to the village? I have a few thoughts on the topic:
First, not all villages look the same. What you need will be different from another mom’s needs. For me, what works well is a good mix of people. I have my church crew: the prayer warriors I can count on when we need them. I have a few different mom groups. Then there are the neighbors: those you can ask for a cup of sugar, the kids who come and go through the house, and those who will watch your littles in an emergency. A good mix can go a long way.
The special sauce to your village: your “ride or die” friends. Those friends who just get you, who understand when you need to vent, who come over to a complete catastrophe of a house and don’t ask any questions. The ones who just know when you need a donut and a cup of tea, or if it’s a “bring the bottle of red over” kind of day.
You may have your “ride or dies” built-in already (good for you!). For those of us who do not, this is a hard one. We moved twice since having kiddos, so forming relationships, especially long-lasting ones, have been a work in progress. It took me eight years to find mine and it’s been worth the wait!
Last but not least: your village will never be complete. People will come and go; that’s alright because that’s life and it happens. Just as you will enter and exit other villages, others will do the same. Moving will put you on the fast track to learning that this is OK.
The first place we lived was where I longed for the village. Where I questioned everything and felt so lonely. Where I asked myself why my son and I couldn’t find our people? Was it him? Me? Thankfully, I realized neither. I just hadn’t put the work in yet.
The place where we moved was where I found my first village: A safety net, a place to call home and get comfortable. Just when I was settling in and getting comfortable, we moved again. To say I was heartbroken was an understatement.
It took a while for me to realize, I still had that part of my village. Even though there was distance, we still stay connected. The great thing I learned was that I now had the tools necessary to add to my village – to fill in gaps and holes at our new location.
So, go on Mama, get out there and find your people! They are waiting for you, I promise.
And for those who already have their people, look around for those who may seem a little lost finding theirs. Who knows, you may be helping another mama out by becoming her first village.
Lindsey Highlander is a stay-at-home mom to three living in the Midwest. I write to reach moms right where they are in their journey with truth and honesty about the realities of being a mom on my blog: kneedeepinmotherhood.com.