We all know that phrase, and it is absolutely true. However, before baby ever arrives on the scene, a parent must be drawn up from the dust and have life breathed into them. No one is born ready to be a parent. In fact, arguably, many of us are hardly ready when the baby gets here. I mean seriously, shouldn’t there be like a test one takes to ensure that it is in fact SAFE and SANE to send this tiny creature home with the poor frightened parent? No. Because then they probably wouldn’t have let me keep my kid.
What I’m saying, is that in the same way parents raise a child, someone has to “raise” a parent.
When Toby and I found out I was pregnant we were totally excited, and then the “oh crap” hit. Yes, I have worked in daycares and nannied off and on my whole adult life, but I sent those little ankle biters home at the end of the day. It is a whole different ballgame when the child is yours. So yes, we were excited, but we were most certainly in a state of fear-facing.
That is where the village came in.
Toby and I grew up in families that had both experienced divorce. We didn’t really know what marriage and parenting would look like in a two-parent household. So we set out among our trusted friends and gleaned their wisdom. At baby showers and during late night phone calls and trips across the country (because you know, that’s what you do when you’re super pregnant) we were filled to bursting with encouragement. Seasoned parents with grandchildren reminded us that everyone is a novice in the beginning. Young couples with small children assured us that we we would feel crazy at times, but that we wouldn’t be alone in that. Our own parents told us that even when we didn’t know what was happening, they would always be there. Amidst the countless hugs, laughing fits, horror stories, prayers, panic attacks and heartfelt conversations, we were comforted and covered. The village turned up in droves, and we would not have been able to do it without them.
After having Yosi, our village kept teaching us. My best friend and my cousin were (and still are) in a constant state of texting with me, whether it was to talk me off the ledge, or to remind me that I was doing a good job even when I looked like hell and smelled like it too. Toby’s best friend across the country kept (and still keeps) him sane with all of their collective dad stories and triumphs and failures. Our village is widespread and diverse. It’s made up of men and women, parents and not parents. It is also made up of our children.
The thing that no one tells you (because its impossible to see as it happens) is that you grow along with your child. We track their milestones and applaud when they reach them, but we as parents have milestones, too. The first time your baby is sick and you pour yourself some coffee and handle it? MILESTONE. The first time you don’t completely lose your crap because your baby spits up all over you in public ruining your favorite cardigan (yes, cardigan)? MILESTONE. The first time you are able to leave your baby in childcare and trust that everything will be okay, even though you aren’t there? HUGE. FREAKING. MILESTONE.
That’s the really amazing thing about this village that raises parents. Our children are part of it as well. As we raise them, they kind of raise us too. We learn to reach farther, to pray harder, to trust more, to stand firmer. We grow into tempered and finer versions of ourselves because we have to be, because we are being raised to be, because we truly are being made into sterner stuff that what we were before.
This community of mothers, of parents, is a special one. While there are many who like to point out what is and isn’t okay in their opinion, there are many more who will hold your hand and cheer you on and pour you that damn glass of wine because, girl, you need it. It’s a village. We are in it together. We are learning and growing and changing everyday, we just don’t usually get gold stars or stickers for it. But, we get wine and we get encouragement and we get the strength to keep doing this thing another day.
Thank you, to my village and thank you that I get to be part of your village too.
Brooke Manolis is a writer, worship leader, wife and new mom to a crazy and sweet 10-month-old boy. She often tweets absurdities about being a mom (@brookemanolis) and blogs at Striving.Seeking.Finding about mom stuff and other life stuff, too.
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