The idea for this post came after seeing a social media post from a dear friend of mine, who unfortunately lives just a little too far away for quick trips and drop-bys, who was going a little stir crazy today.
She’s a work from home mom, her own boss, and a mother to a three-year-old and one-year-old twins. She’s in the height of toddler chaos and interrupted bathroom breaks, hustling to build her own business, and undoubtedly in “survival” mode most days.
She does not have a village.
I’ve been there; many of us have. The notion of the “village” was long ago abandoned and replaced by a society that judges a mother negatively for not being able to handle it all. By all I mean, birthing babies, raising responsible young toddlers, birthing more babies while raising responsible young toddlers, cooking healthy meals while making sure the kids eat their veggies, scheduling playdates, keeping the dishes done, adoring her husband, keeping the laundry clean and folded and put away… you get the idea. Maybe she even needs to work for a living, or maybe she wants to work for herself.
We’re expected to do all of this… and live… and enjoy living… and build a life for our families. We’re responsible for creating our “home”. A home where our husband wants to be, and a home where our children one day will always want to come back to.
That’s a lot of responsibility for one person.
Making all that happen, well, with all the warm and fuzzies, very rarely has much to do with the walls around you at night.
Your location on the map doesn’t make “home”. The “village” surrounding you makes your location “home”.
Two years ago, my hubby and I were faced with unexpected baby number three on the way and a town home that we were quickly outgrowing. Add to this equation that we knew we wanted room to sprawl and dogs… and fresh air surrounding us.
We also had no time and didn’t want to buy land and build our dream house because we truly didn’t know where we wanted to end up.
We struggled with the question of “where is home?”
Rather, he dreamed of the mountains and I dreamed of a small southern town, preferably exactly like the one where I grew up.
He dreamed of easy access to hiking and hunting. I dreamed of wrap around porches and my children picking up southern accents, quickly, before it was too late.
You can spend your life waiting for the “what ifs” and “one days” and miss a whole lifetime of living.
We were still in the mindset of “one days” for sure, so we made a move that would solve the issues at hand and get us a bit closer to the dreams we had.
We bought a house further away from the hustle and traffic. We chose the area based on my criteria of “smallest, well ranked school district I can find that’s still commutable for the hubs and still close to family.”
I wanted my oldest’s teachers to remember her when her younger siblings came through their grades. I wanted to know the names of people as I passed them in town. I wanted my kids to be friends with all the kids at the pool. Those were the short term dreams that we thought we could fulfill.
And we got very lucky.
Fast forward three years, our oldest is in first grade now. The school, so far, has been wonderful. Our house looks out across a beautiful mountain view. We’ve added two German Shepherds to our pack. Our kids have made wonderful friends. We’re surrounded by new friends that are in the same stages of life; I often forget just how many people we have around us that we truly enjoy. We have the beginnings of our village.
And we found “home”.
When you find home, three things happen. First, you stop living for the “one days” and “what ifs”. Second, you become overwhelmingly grateful (not that you weren’t before, it was just hard to see it in the chaos). Third, your plans for the future (we’d like to build a home on that mountain we look out over) now become dependent on your place, your “home”.
Coming back around to my friend I mentioned that inspired this post, I mentioned she doesn’t have a village.
She doesn’t have a friend two minutes down the road to pick up a kid from daycare or school when a younger one has a conflict or the flu. She doesn’t have a neighbor to, one day, be a back up for getting the kids off the bus. She doesn’t have slumber party friends on the block. She doesn’t have kids running around the neighborhood barefoot looking for a yard with kids to play in.
Now I know my friend from the beginning of my story will be reading this; she gave me the okay to write about her. I want to point out that I’m not trying to be upsetting or bring on any tears. Although I know I shed quite a few during those lonely, baby years. We’ve talked about all of this extensively. These are realities, and not just for her.
These realities make surviving motherhood so much harder. I can attest, your village is your support, even just the knowledge of having them around is enough. You may not rely on them everyday, but when that day comes, your village turns “surviving” into “living”.
I can absolutely, without doubt, tell you that finding home and building a village enhances your whys, your purpose, and your motivations.
Simmer and Sprout is only possible because of my village and knowing that I’m grounded where I am. That stability (in head and heart) is what allows me to spend my spare time creating new recipes on this blog. It gives me the ability to focus on me and what I need in this life and the drive to pursue the things I’m interested in. It gives me the the focus to have my hands in a whole lot of pots and still be having fun.
I’m no longer just “surviving”. I’m living.
Now I just need to convince my friends without a village to move into mine.