Deep in my soul I yearn for friends. Real friends.
Ones that I see often, that check in on me, that I check in on, and that want to share life with me but understand that seasons of life can dictate my own involvement in their life and vice versa.
I long for a village.
The kind that helps raise my children like the very true and popular saying. But I have lived in my current residence for 4 years and have never found a truly tight-knit community to be a part of. Then after having kids I realized that the parenting village is somewhat of a romantic idea that doesn’t exist for everyone. And I think this is becoming more of a problem for more women as the social media interactions take the place of real-life connections.
Don’t get me wrong. I love social media and the power it has to connect people.
And don’t get me wrong in that I have no friends or that the internet has no place because some of the most meaningful connections I have are online with other bloggers (some I have never even met in real life).
In the end, what I am looking for is a true village. One with children of all ages, those that are married, the elderly, and the young. I am looking for the village that embraces newlyweds, rallies around struggling marriages, supports families of all sizes, prays for both the trivial and life-changing, and helps raise and watch children like they are their own.
Identifying the need for a village to raise children
- When the parenting village doesn’t exist, moms and dads everywhere are, exhausted, confused, burnt out, and just want to find someone who can relate to their current situation.
- When the parenting village doesn’t exist, it’s easy to point out the flaws and failures in other mothers rather than lift them up.
- When the parenting village doesn’t exist, we seem to turn more inwards rather than reach outward for help.
- When the parenting village doesn’t exist, there is no one to turn to for a babysitter, making maintaining that connection in marriage more difficult.
- When the parenting village doesn’t exist, our children are robbed of the opportunity to connect with children of all ages.
- When the parenting village doesn’t exist, our struggles seem one sided, larger than life, and unmanageable.
- When the parenting village doesn’t exist, mothers are left in a world of sanctimommies, judgment, and little idea of how to navigate the new and muddled waters of parenthood.
But why has community & a “village” become a lost art?
I can’t answer that. I really can’t. It seems like something that as the human race we would clutch onto for our very sanity.
Motherhood is hard enough without feeling lonely. There are days when I rejoice for the opportunity to go to a midwife appoint, chiropractic adjustment, or the grocery store just for the ability to be able to talk to someone else and hear about life outside of these four walls. And sometimes I feel like not having a community of village makes me live in a perpetual state of determined anxiety. For instance, the impending arrival of a second child has me frantically trying to get freezer meals cooked, the house in order for my husband’s “ease of use”, and a list of low-maintenance games and activities ready that I can go to for my older daughter since I know my husband will return to work fairly shortly after my delivery.
Aren’t we all dying to connect in meaningful relationships with others?
Living in a world where the individual is glorified over the community means that the village truly is a dying concept for far too many families. As parents, we just can’t do it all or know it all, but for some reason it’s expected that moms can at least have the do-all attitude, even if they are imperfect.
In the end, I firmly believe that our lack of deep and committed relationships with friends and community is what makes parenting more difficult that it has to be. I don’t think that the blogosphere is full of moms complaining. I think it’s full of mothers crying out for help and community.
While I don’t have answers, I maintain hope. I want to find women and families that can be my community. One where I can pour into the lives of others and bless them so that they know their struggles are real no matter how big or small, and that they are not alone.
Edited to add: This was written in 2014. There have been ebbs and flows in our life, including a cross-country move with out family and even a global health crisis. I have seen this play out over and over again in our own lives but also in those around us, with countless families leaving the Boston area to return closer to family to help.
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Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living on a farm in New England. She believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience and has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development. She is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!