Clearing out my phone messages the other day, I found this text chain with my neighbors the night before Winnie was born. About a month earlier, we had asked these friends to be our standbys when it was time to head to the hospital. Within minutes of texting them after I’d gone into labor, someone volunteered to spend the night, and others made plans to get the children to school the next morning. Graham and I backed out of the driveway that night knowing that our little people were being loved and cared for while we were gone.
I love how life goes down with community. For me, the birth of my fourth child was an anxious time. I had forgotten how grueling and monotonous life with a newborn can be. Add to that a 17-day Christmas break for my older three when the baby was just 3 weeks old, and I nearly lost my mind. But somehow, my community, they knew. They knew I would need meals, so they organized a meal chain and came night after night with hot, ready-to-eat dinners. My parents knew a clean house was important to my sanity, so they spent hours deep cleaning bathrooms, painting trim, and mopping floors during their visit to Virginia. My girlfriends understood the enormity of this last baby, so they traveled from Fredericksburg and Baltimore and Kentucky to meet her and encourage me. My mother- and father-in-law heard the fear in our voices when Winnie had to be hospitalized over Christmas, and they offered to step in and take the other children to Raleigh so we could care for our baby. My fellow moms with newborns stood in solidarity those first few months and compared crazy stories with me, sometimes over texts, other times over a bottle of wine.
As we celebrate Winnie’s birthday today, I am reminded of this community, this village I have, because they are so much of what has made this year possible, enjoyable even. I pray that you have this too, girlfriend—a community that loves and cares for you. It takes time to build this village, often one gesture of kindness at a time. You may have to piecemeal your village together: a coworker here, a neighbor there. Your village shouldn’t look like you. It’s best when it’s made up of people in all stages and phases of life.
The African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I add to that “. . . and creating a village takes work.” But it’s worth every second, this community raising, and it’s what we’re here for—to build each other up, to rely on others, to gather together. Motherhood can be a lonely place. Find the people who are two steps ahead, and ask them all the questions. Then look for the girlfriends who are a few steps behind and bring them along. That is the making of a village.
Mary Mary Coleman says
Happy birthday winnie!
Mary Techau says
You have become so wise and insightful. Happy birthday this week to our little Winnie. Can’t wait to see you all soon.