We have all heard the expression “It takes a village to raise a child”. As a kid, I can clearly remember my parents having a village. My mom’s best friend babysat anytime mom asked her. My uncle was my best friend and I spent many hours at his house being entertained by cartoons and a variety of junk food. Being the youngest of 9 children (a yours, mine, and ours scenario) there was a plethora of people to watch me. Even if it was begrudgingly. Many conversations with my husband and his mom have indicated that she too had a village. So why don’t I?
It’s not that I want to be without my children. In fact, they are very rarely away from me, by choice. Do they drive me crazy? ABSOLUTELY. But, I also have a very real, keen understanding that the days are long but the years are short. Having missed the first years of their lives, I want to soak up as much time with them as I can. Even if that means no dates with the husband, and no real “me time”. However, I also understand that time away from the parents is very healthy for children, and parents.
I have a very small circle of people that I consider my tribe. At the risk of offending people I won’t name them, but I want to reiterate that it is very small. Even smaller is the circle of people that I would trust to watch my children. I am very untrusting by nature. Perhaps it stems from some childhood experiences. It may even stem from social media news stories about people being followed at Wal-Mart or at the grocery store. Whatever the reason, I don’t trust a lot of people to watch my children. If I have ever left you alone with my children, consider yourself lucky. Yes, I am that mom. However, since we adopted our children from foster care, we can only assume what things they have experienced. I can’t control the past, but I can make sure that they aren’t around people who may hurt them now.
The other day we had a very sensitive family matter that needed dealt with. I did not particularly want my children exposed to it. However, there was nobody available to watch them. NOBODY. We called everyone who we thought would be able to do it, and nobody was available within a thirty mile radius. THIRTY MILES. It was around noon, so several people were working, or had places to be. There was nobody to help us. Therefore, the children had to go with us. At first, everything was fine, and then suddenly it wasn’t. We were in a situation that was highly destructive and there were extremely upset. After years of trying to shield them from anything that would be traumatic, here we were in a situation that was just that.
WHERE WAS MY VILLAGE? I don’t have a village, because I never made one. I didn’t give myself the freedom to need one. I took the responsibility of raising my children to the extreme and because of that was forced to put them in a situation that I had so desperately hoped to avoid. In that moment, I had failed. I had failed my children, and myself. My overbearing need to protect them from all the bad in this world, had actually worked against me. After rehashing this situation with other people, I have had several people say “Why didn’t you call me?”. Honestly, it was because I never thought that they would want to take three kids for an undetermined amount of time. I didn’t want to inconvenience them. But then I began to think about it. If I had someone call me, and explain the situation that I was in, and ask me if I could keep their kids for a while, I would do it in a heartbeat.
My goal for the near future is to find my village. Find those people who can help out in emergency situations, and to start allowing myself the freedom to ask for help.