Updated: Nov 8, 2019
It takes a village to raise a child, I think the old saying goes. And I always assumed that meant lots of people, be they family or friends, other Mothers / Parents and Joe Blogs who hopefully is looking out for you and your kids in general. But I recently saw a discussion by Mums saying that they didn't have a village and they meant an old fashioned village as in communal care system. They missed what their mothers had, all living in the same street and at the same stage in life. Raising their kids together with Grandparents part of the picture on a daily basis. I guess I understand this as my friends in New Zealand and family have this. I do not. My friends all had kids around the same time, they go to the same schools and clubs and they have playdates around at each others houses every day. Each Mum taking turns to feed the feral gang that is at theirs. My sister has our parents ( and her husbands ) on speed dial, as instant babysitter and taxi when she can't and quite often get the kids schedules to mesh. They live close by and stay over/ late a few times a week. The children have keys to Granny's house and use it as a 2nd base if needed.
In this time of 'our generation' we are moving not only away from home , but completely changing cities. And moving country all together. Like me. I moved to Northern Ireland pregnant , from London and before that originally from New Zealand , not knowing anyone, I mean anyone! ( except the Dad , of course ) I had and still have no family here apart from the one I made, in every sense of the word. But it is quite lonely and isolating and sad at times, when overseas family come to visit and its just a week here or there. They fit you in to a 6 part holiday to this half of the world and want to do touristy things rather than just hang out with you as they would if you were local. You miss out of daily conversations and going ons. Birthday and Christmases and bbq's and cousin prize givings or a play. But I have chosen this , I am not complaining just analysing the situation I find myself and others find themselves in.
What , I have found is that you MUST create your own village and not get caught up on what you thought it would be! Focus on what it is. In this discussion I mentioned above, Mums have lamented the loss of a locational village but they have found company and support in online groups, local Mums and paid for and free groups you attend. And I can't second that enough . It doesn't matter where you find your village , just find one. These days tribes of yesterday year are gone. We are a mobile ( pun intended ) people and we need to find new communities to be part of and even form. I have a degree in Anthropology and one of the things I noticed in my studies was that the societies we use to be part of and adhere to the values of, are a thing of the past. People move around a lot more for work or opportunities. People marry outside their own countries and move to their spouses home country or make one together completely separate of each others homelands. People have interests and ideas that lead them to make different life choices from what they expected or was instilled in them. And they find others in this common ground.
Thats the wonderful point is that we make mobs / packs / little / large groups of our own, that overlap and criss cross all facets of our lives. Venn diagrams that look like a bunch of balloons of every colour. I have a music class collective that I see in class and have formed bonds with through playdates and coffee outside the group. But I only see others at that group on that day , at that time. Likewise the other social ( for kids ) events / groups I attend, coffee group, play time, playground, swimming class, libraries the list goes on. I have people I nod to in the street and those I cry down the phone to (because they are in NZ ! ) I talk regularly with women I have never met, online and gossip with others hourly even if we have only just seen each other that day. Mothers come in all shapes and sizes physically and so do our social interactions. Just because we might not be lucky enough to share a school run or be able to throw them over Grandpas fence to play ( sometimes we really we wish we could , just throw them ( kidding ) that is ) doesn't make our relationships with other People/ Parents any less valid and meaningful.
But you are going to have to be brave. Meeting new people is daunting, unless you're 2 yrs old. It takes guts to open yourself up to new people , even if you do have a common element to break the ice, ( babies, kids, no sleep or they are not doing this or they are doing that). But you need to , it is part of parenting, leading by example. Be confident, caring, kind and courageous ! Put your anxieties away, smile, deep breathe and both you and your child will benefit. Sing if you need to , splash around, take a swig of coffee and go forth into the fray. You will ( I Promise ) meet parents that you will click with and find a common thread, be it child related or a part of your old life. Hopefully both. I spoke up at an antenatal class and made 9 close friends.
And I need my ladies ..... They keep me sane ( loosely , we happily admit we are a bit insane ) they listen , offer advise, ask advise and need me as much as I need them. So be your village virtual, physical, emotional , spiritual or mental ( in every way ) It is still a lifeline and support system and can't be underestimated in all occasions. Connections are connections, fleeting or deep. So get out there and make some friends and build a village, brick by brick till you need a map and compass to get around.
Reading this is your first brick, I'll help start your town !! Get in touch. x