We Need Our Village For Motherhood

This morning, a friend of mine posted an article on her Facebook page, all abut motherhood. It was entitled “Please Don’t Discipline My Kid Right In Front Of Me.”

I read it, and interacted on her post(because good blogging etiquette calls for cultivating friendships and authentic relationships, not just page views!)

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Anywho, I commented on it after reading the article and I’m still passionate about what it forced me to feel. I don’t often get on a soapbox and rant about what unknown people say on the Internet(okay, I do, just not publicly), but this one has my wheels turning. It’s not a direct response to what she wrote, but it’s what it made me think of, just reading her opinion. I just want to make something very clear.

Please discipline my children with me.

If we’re at a park and you see my child running towards the water or road, grab him. Tell him he needs to wait for mommy, remind him of the dangers those things can bring. Make him sit until you find me. Chances are I’m the puke covered one who is running after him with a toddler and baby both in my arms; I just couldn’t go fast enough.

If we’re at the playground and my daughter won’t let your child, or another child, have her turn on the slide? Reprimand her. Tell her it’s unkind, that these are shared toys that belong to the school or city and she needs to allow others to have a go at them. I won’t be offended. I want my kids to be kind but i am under no illusion they always are now. Kids can be mean.

When we’re at a party and you see my son sneaking his veggies into the trash, call him out. Especially if you heard my insistence he finish those veggies to get cake. It’s not going to embarrass me; I’m pretty thick skinned and I can’t be everywhere at once.

Basically, be my village, guys.

Basically, be my village, guys.

I see this concept come up all the time. People want their villages, like back in the good old days, when you brought families dinners after the new baby was born and they could let their child out until dark because almost every house had a parent in it. The entire community rallied around each other and no one ever went without because you were the VILLAGE. You supported and provided for one another.

Sounds romantic and like a thing of the past right?

It’s not. Those villages still exist. I belong to a great big one, that has about 300 people, give or take, meeting on Sunday mornings**.

I think why people aren’t finding their villages today isn’t because kindness and chivalry are dead. I think it’s because we’re too proud to accept what the village actually entails.

Because yes, the village provides you with wonderful things. It brings you comfort. Family, food, friendships. But it also provides you with a certain amount of vulnerability to other humans that we don’t want to give.

We're always on the defensive as parents, insisting we know the best way to raise our children. I'm here to tell you the truth-I don't.

Raising children in a village allows others to correct your child’s behavior and we as a society want to believe we know what’s best for our children. Here’s the cold hard truth-just because you birthed them does not mean you know what’s best for them. You may know it sometimes…but that’s not a built in tool that grows after you have them. We’re always on the defensive as parents, insisting we know the best way to raise our children. I’m here to tell you the truth-I don’t. I need the old woman at the playgrounds tips for keeping Princess’ hair up. I need the doctors who have studied far more in depth medications and vitamins to give me advice on what to do. I need my mommy and my grandma and my aunts to all tell me just how they handled teething.

And I need the person at the playground to tell my child to share, even if I’m standing right there. That’s what the village is folks. But we have moved closer and closer to “I am capable of doing everything and anything on my own, I don’t need any one else to help me.”

I need a village for this crazy thing called motherhood

You can’t wish for a village if your intent is to only get the easy/beneficial aspects of one. As I said, I have an amazing village of support. And yes, there are the simply positive parts.

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But there are also those parts you may not enjoy so much. Like a person disciplining your child in front of you. Or the accountability partner whose checking on you for the fifth time that week, making sure you’re not slipping back into old ways. Or crying tears with someone as their IVF treatment didn’t take again. Or being vulnerable and telling people you’re struggling financially, emotionally, or in your marriage. Sometimes the village looks like people taking you to the side and opening your eyes to behaviors that are not pleasing or kind or okay for you to have. Sometimes that village looks like you being forced to look at yourself, long and hard, and realize you don’t like what you see. Sometimes, the village means taking someone else’s charity. Or giving another person what they need. The village isn’t all birthday parties, drinks out with the other moms, dinners made, your kids having other adults to rely on and look up to. It can be about asking for help with rent, a shoulder to cry on, another parent knowing what’s better for your child than you do. Sometimes the village includes the really ugly parts of life.

And in my opinion, there’s something even more beautiful in a village when it includes and welcomes those ugly moments. It’s who we are at the core: broken and imperfect people, looking for people to support us in our imperfectness and help fix our brokenness.

So please, discipline my child in front of me. Be an adult who holds my children accountable. Be a friend who holds me responsible.

Be my village.

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*I’m not trying to entice you to come to church with me, but if you’re in the area, we do offer delicious food and a wonderful community. We Baptists eat a lot of food!*

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