It takes a village!
But what if your village lives 1,600 miles away?
It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself when you see your mom friends drop the kids off on a Tuesday at grandma’s so they can go to the dentist, or your children’s friends have close relationships with their cousins and aunties – and see them more than Christmas and one week during the summer.
It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself. And I’ll admit, sometimes I do.
I recently took my girls back home to San Diego for a post-Christmas trip before it was time to go back to school. The entire side of my dad’s family gathered together for an epic New Year’s Eve family reunion.
It felt like an out-of-body experience. Family members I hadn’t seen since our wedding were there. Aunts, uncles, and cousins who shaped my childhood met my seven and five-year-old for the first time.
This time, it wasn’t me and my cousins running amok on the dance floor, sneaking extra ice cream from the dessert table. It was the next generation of second cousins who had never met but instantly had a bond. The older cousins watched the younger cousins while my aunties held my girls and spoke words of affirmation to them – the same way they had done for me as a little girl.
Family. It’s something I think most people take for granted. But it’s something I never will, and I love mine deeply.
It was in that moment of my aunt hugging my five-year-old (for the first time) that stopped me in my tracks.
THIS is why I’m so tired.
This is why I feel the weight on my shoulders.
Yes, our parents are incredibly supportive, and when they’re in town or we’re visiting, they are ALL HANDS ON DECK. They’re the absolute best.
But the reality is, intense week-long visits here and there are very different from random visits on a Thursday or a weekend sleepover at grandma’s because mom is sick.
I stood there staring at my aunt hugging my youngest and knew this is what people were meant to have –a built in village.
But in the same breath as I was feeling sorry for myself, I had to step back – to stop myself and REFRAME my thoughts.
I do have a village. It just looks a little different. And it’s a village I had to create. One I had to foster.
So why share all this?
Because I know there’s a lot of you without family here. Or maybe you don’t have a relationship with your family.
You’re not going to Sunday dinners. Cousins only see each other twice a year.
But you can have a village, too.
Here is what my village looks like.
My village is my Tuesday carpool.
My village is my neighborhood – a bubble we depended on during Covid who now feel like siblings.
My village is my best mom friend who loves my kids like her own.
My village is the child watch at my gym so my kids have a safe place to play while I take care of myself.
My village is my child’s speech therapist, who shares in my child’s success and new strides.
My village is my daughter’s 2nd grade mom’s Facebook page reminding me about Spirit Day.
My village is a friend I’ve reconnected with whose child has a health diagnosis similar to my youngest.
My village is my health accountability group I met randomly on the internet.
My village is my daughter’s soccer coach, who challenges my daughter in ways I can’t.
My village is my coworkers, who live busy lives but find time to check in and ask how my daughter’s first day at her new school was.
Your village will look different than others.
Your village won’t come for free. You’re going to need to build it first.
Look around and realize there are opportunities for you to broaden your circle of support. There are good people here. And when you find them, lean into them, accept their help and then be there to return the favor.
Be someone else’s village, too.
None of us were meant to do this alone.