We’ve all heard that it ‘takes a village,’ right? Well, what does that really mean?
I used to think it referred to raising children. I mean that’s not a bad guess. Raising kids is not an easy task. It takes a lot of energy and insight. Plus, there are a lot of people with opinions. You may be the parent, but let’s not forget the rest of the village, if you will – grandparents, friends, doctors, Aunt Ethel, the lady behind you in line at the grocery store. All those folks help us raise our kids (or not) and that is exactly what this proverb refers to, according to the Internet.
When I googled it there was some debate on where it originated. Some attributed it to the Native Americans and others to African cultures. Either way, though, everyone seems to agree that it does, in fact, refer to the community that works together to teach and guide its children to maturity. Which is not a bad thing.
In fact a few years ago I was crying to one of my sisters about how hard something having to do with parenting was. I don’t remember what my complaint was, but I do remember her response. “You’re not meant to do it all alone.”
It was such a powerful moment to me – one of those things you lose sight of in the ins and outs of daily diapers and dishes. But to be reminded of it – it was freeing. I didn’t have to face whatever that struggle was alone. And I don’t have to tackle any of my parenting obstacles on my own. Neither do you. The lady at the grocery store may not be helpful (or maybe she is) but there are likely others in your life that are.
And if you’re in the military and you live away from your sisters and mothers and aunties, there are other options. There are the women you’ll meet at family support groups. There are friends you’ll make at church or the gym. There are homeschooling groups or PTAs. There are breastfeeding support groups, baby and me classes, toddler play dates, 4H, Scouts, youth groups, the YMCA, and more and more. You don’t need to be in this alone. You’ve got a village.
That’s great, right? But I’m not done yet. I had a new revelation. I don’t think that’s all it means. So, we’ve got a village to help raise our children. Yes. We also have a village to raise up ourselves.
Let me repeat that. Because here I am, typing this at the Y, tears in my eyes again…
We have a village to raise us up.
What a glorious, marvelous, wondrous, blessing. The village doesn’t disappear when the clock strikes midnight on our 18th birthday. The helpful (and not-so-helpful) advice from your grumpy ol’ neighbor still gets harrumphed from the front porch from time to time. Aunt Betty will still impart her wisdom on you at family holidays. You’ve got a village.
Just last week I realized that my village isn’t done with me yet. I’ve been an adult for almost 20 years now and I just realized that! I’m not meant to be in any of this alone. And by this I don’t just mean being a parent. I’m also not meant to be a woman alone. I’m not meant to be a wife alone. I’m certainly not meant to be a submariner’s wife on my own. I’m not meant to homeschool on my own. I’m not meant to write on my own. I’m not meant to learn a new skill on my own or question my faith on my own or mourn on my own or celebrate on my own. I’m not meant to LIVE alone!!!!
I have a village. And they aren’t done with me yet. And that is a great, great thing. Because I’m definitely still getting started…