It Takes a Village
They say it takes a village to raise a child – and yet we don’t often have much of a village these days. Sometimes we need to look outside of our own extended family to create extra support and bring a richness that comes from having many different people as part of our lives.
I grew up with a single mother who worked long hours and found it very hard to get food on the table. During the school holidays, my mother set up a time for me to spend with her extended family in the country. My aunty taught me how to knit. To this day, I love knitting and it has been a powerful stress reliever. My grandfather taught me good financial management. I used to watch him sit and do his paperwork, and he would tell me how important it was to pay your bills and not ever get yourself in debt so that you can’t pay your bills. These are lessons I still carry around with me today.
When my boys were young, we never had extended family close to us, so I reached out to another friend, and together we created a playgroup called Emma South playgroup, named after our beloved midwife. We reached out to other new mothers and gathered to decide on what was important to us, and how we can create a safe space for other new mothers to join us. That playgroup lasted ten years. Together we weathered parenting challenges, new babies, balancing work, relationship challenges, health challenges and supported families going through rough times. We gathered with our children to celebrate special events, to camp, to belly dance, to do crafts, to go on adventures. This group was a lifeline for many – and even though we all went off to different schools and different towns, many of us have remained close.
This experience of gathering with other mothers, going through the same thing at the same time, became foundational for my evolution as a mother. Many a parenting challenge was solved over a cup of tea. It was also extremely nourishing to my soul.
This was the beginning of what would become a lifelong career, in not only preparing women for birth but supporting their transformation as new mothers and setting up groups called, ‘Thriving as a new mother.’ I have watched thousands of women come together and enjoy the support of being in a mother’s group. When women gather with a clear intention to support each other’s learning and growth, something magical happens. It is in our nature to cooperate and collaborate, to support and nurture – it is secret women’s business.
If ever there was a time to reach out and extend your village it is now. Lockdowns have served to protect us, but have also required us to reach out more, and look out for each other. Let’s learn from this and extend our newfound appreciation for the need to stay connected and put more time into growing and nourishing our own village. Your children will be gifted with many different people to learn from, to have experiences that can grow them in different ways. Ask yourself, who else do I wish to be actively involved in my child’s life? – and reach out. Ask them to be involved, whether in person or even online. It will be worth it and can take the pressure off you to be everything to your child.
They say it takes a village to raise a child – put some time into contemplating your village.