We all hear that “it takes a village” — and what a quaint little saying that is — but Y’ALL, WHERE IS THIS VILLAGE?!
Because even if your family lives in town and you have awesome friends, there are those days when, desperate for interaction, you attempt to summon the village. To call or text a friend for a stroll or a family member for help but OH NO TODDLER IS SCREAMING BECAUSE SHE REMEMBERED THE EXISTENCE OF OVEN MITTS AND WHY ISN’T SHE WEARING THEM, MOTHER, WHY?!?
So you give her the worn yellow oven mitts and then, wait, what were you doing? Oh yes, sending that SOS text, but oh wait, baby is like “HEY, GIRL, I AM FURIOUS THAT I HAVE A DIRTY DIAPER AND I WILL NEVER GET OVER IT EVER,” so you quickly change the diaper. Mid-change, Toddler realizes it is HILARIOUS to pour the milk on the kilim rug. WHY DO WE HAVE A KILIM RUG? WHO ARE WE KIDDING HERE, INSTAGRAM? WE SHOULD ONLY OWN THINGS MADE OUT OF PLASTIC SO THEY CAN BE HOSED DOWN (jk it was free from my grandmother, but still) and wait wait, what were we doing? OH YES, sending text.
But hold up, THE OVEN MITTS HAVE FALLEN OFF BECAUSE OF THE MILK-SPILLING AND TODDLER WILL SCREAM FROM THE ROOFTOPS “THIS IS TREMENDOUSLY UNCOOL, MOTHER!” or perhaps something more age-appropriate. You make a mental note to re-read that article on Pinterest about techniques for toddler discipline but naturally you forget and also who cares.
It kind of goes like that for a while. In surrender, you give into the idea that you’re pretty much nailed to your home with two rabid animals who are pretending to be children. Because on those days, I know — if I did end up taking my crew out, my 18-month-old will smear yogurt everywhere, and I’ll be trying to tame her, but it’s hard because inevitably I’m feeding the 1-month-old while also feeling weird that someone else is feeling weird about the way I’m feeding my baby. Then I’ll feel weird about feeling weird about it because EMPOWERMENT and FEMINISM and BLAH, but when I’m being real with myself, I’m just sad about the whole thing. Because, VILLAGE? Y’all are mean sometimes.
We’ve all seen the Facebook statuses and the comment sections in articles about breastfeeding/bottlefeeding/FEEDING/anything baby related and they remind us that no matter what you choose on any given topic, someone hates you and thinks you are stupid, and it all feels like code for “You’re a bad mom.” And that’s what we’re all afraid of, isn’t it? (But you’re not. And I’m not either.) So it just feels easier to stay home even though home feels isolating.
You know what I’d like? To have a tinier house with less stuff. Less to clean, less temptation to assess my worth by the stuff that surrounds me. And I’d like the tiny house to be right in the middle of a park, next to a few other tiny houses, houses where our family and friends live. Then in the middle of the night when all the babies are crying, we can just sit out on someone’s porch and rock them together.
Maybe it’ll remind us that we’re not alone. Maybe if we are there for one other’s chaotic moments, I can jump in and help you when you need it, and you won’t feel weird that I’m there. Because you would have seen me at my worst, too, plenty of times.
You could just call out the front door if you want to stroll around together or need to borrow some milk or need someone to keep an eye on things so you can sneak in a quick nap. You could loan me those shoes I like and remind me about Tylenol dosages because I just never will remember.
You know, sometimes I need to see my mom and cry for just a minute, but I don’t load up the kids and make the 20-minute drive because it feels a little overdramatic. So I push past it. But in our village, I can just walk right over. Just for a minute, just long enough to remember that I have someone in my corner. And she can come see me if she wants, too, because I am learning that moms have bad days, too.
But we are all spread apart. We all kind of feel like we have to do it alone. And even when we get over that, sometimes we aren’t sure how to help one another because we aren’t in each other’s spaces enough. I want to know how you put your little girl down for a nap so that I can put her down for you if you need to go to the grocery store or get us both Starbucks. I want you to teach me to French braid and help me figure out a plan to help baby eat better. I want to help you decide which paint color looks best, and I want to know whether you like creamy or crunchy peanut butter.
In the tiny slivers of normal life, while loading the dryer or cutting the grapes in half, we can have the meaningful conversation we’re desperate for. I want to talk to you about your marriage and your fears and your little boy’s favorite book. I want to tell you how I’m usually tired and really happy but randomly here and there I’m not happy at all. Because this is hard. But it’s not as hard when I can talk to you about it.
Can we hang out like that? Can we live like that? Can we forget all this mess that we are enduring alone and run away with our families to the tiny houses? We will call it The Village. And it will be beautiful.