It takes a village…

motherhood / Sunday, November 8th, 2009
Lately I’ve been thinking about the power and importance of a good support system. Whether it is close family members or reliable and encouraging friends, the people we surround ourselves with have the power to either build up or tear down.
In ethnic cultures, tribes of families set up their camps in close proximity to each other to form their villages. The women supported each other through pregnancy, birth, and the raising of their children. In some villages, it was even the tradition or common practice to let babies suckle from all the women in the village as a sign of their unity and family bond. The dynamics of family structure have changed quite a bit through all the cultures and centuries. While most of us cannot walk to a different room or out the front door to visit a family member anymore, we have made up our own ‘villages’ to belong to and be a part of.

As wives and mothers, this is especially important. The responsibilities of a wife and mother are many and never ending and go beyond our expectations and sanity levels! Being able to turn to family and friends during the hard times is essential for our survival, not to mention the survival of our husbands and children! The mere knowledge that someone is praying for you can be enough to stay hopeful during an otherwise desperate situation. A reassuring hug or friendly note can be just the right pick-me-up at the end of a bad day.

A recent phone call from a friend reminded me of the tremendous impact like-minded friends can provide for a woman during labor and birth. She had found herself at a difficult point in her labor and was hitting a mental wall. Aside from the help her doula and midwife offered her, she needed something more. Even over the phone, she was able to find strength through the prayers and encouraging words of friends who understood and believed in her. In her journey of natural pregnancy and labor and birth, we were her village.

A wife and mother of 6 kids with a husband who has been laid off from his job for more than 3 months also finds hope in the middle of their struggle. At least once a week, she gathers together with women from her church to pray a Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy for her needs and those of others. She has offered her time and home and food to others even in the midst of her own storm. Recently, she and her family were given gift certificates to local grocery stores collected from these wonderful women for her. These women of her church are her village.

A mother who has been given the gift of caring for her children while daddy is away or at work has an extra special need for sanity-savers. The work of child-rearing can be very rewarding but is definitely a work and a very hard one at times. A day for a mother is filled with joy and love for sure. It is, however, also filled with various times of stress, frustration, discouragement and exhaustion. Even though a mother certainly wouldn’t wish a bad day onto any of her friends, it can be incredibly encouraging to know that she is not alone in her challenges. A phone call to a fellow mother in the middle or end of a crisis can bring peace back into her drained soul. A planned outing or play date with another mother and her children to look forward to can be the right amount of hope to keep the sanity level just under insane. A warm home-cooked meal brought to a mother of a newborn baby can bring her much-needed time and nourishment! For one mother, her like-minded friends who are also mothers are her village.

I am thankful for the different villages I belong to and can be a part of. Even when I am by myself, I know that I am not alone. My friends, neighbors, church connections, and family are all my village.

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