Whoever said it takes a village to raise a child clearly had the mother of all stomach flus. I was sick recently. Like "Mom! I need a washcloth! And a bucket next to the bed ..." sick. But, there are no sick days in mommyhood and my momma lives far too far to bring a cold washcloth. Luckily and blessedly this mommy has a husband that helped (who couldn't really take off work) and a posse of mommas that took mercy on us. (If I name my son Monica or Carolyn someday you know why now.)
For someone to take care of your child when you absolutely can't gives me such a feeling of gratitude I can't even really put it into words. "We have no family down here," I often say. No mommas and grandmommas and aunts. It's just Mike and I against the world. But, the truth is that I often see that we do, in fact, have family down here. We have a support system that's been patched together over the years from different sources and experiences. It's just a matter of asking for that helping hand you need. I hate asking for help. Almost as much as I hate the evil demon virus that plagued me. But, as with all things in motherhood, sometimes the best thing for your child means asking for help. I knew without a doubt that I couldn't do anything for Wilder in this condition.
Those few days are kind of a haze. But, I do know these mommas made it easy on me. They texted and they offered and then they did. Action. It's more powerful than words when you can't lift your head and you have a 2.5 year old who on a good day climbs onto counters and scales buildings in a single bound while trying to eat anything that looks remotely poisonous.
When I moved to Louisiana it was to be with Mike. We dated long distance for about three years. I left behind my family and beloved friends. And I found some new ones. But, truly I was so happy to finally be in the same city with my man that I didn't do the girl friend thing the way I had the rest of my life. In retrospect it has been a great experience that well fit my personality and served our marriage well but I do need some lady friends in my life. I missed my family so (so so so) much early on. I still miss my family. But, at some point when I wasn't paying attention I started calling Lafayette home. And at some point I found myself in the midst of people that look a lot like family even if we look nothing alike. I wrote recently about being known and maybe that's why it's taken this long to establish and develop friendships with people I can trust. Maybe it's that once you're older it's just harder to do the new friend thing. And when you're married there's less time and want to do it. And then you have a time vacuum ... err ... baby ... and friendship seems to fall right at the bottom of the list of priorities.
Something strange and unexpected has happened as I've waded further into the mommyhood. I need women more in my life. I didn't expect it. Having a child is one of the most bonding and simultaneously alienating experiences with a partner. And it can knock you flat on your sleep deprived peanut-butter covered face. I have to give a disclaimer here about what a great partner I have and the kind of father he is that can do everything and anything and the kind of husband he is. But, he is not a mom. Period. And there is a difference. The differences? Well, that's for another blog or 20. But, the reality is that having women in my life now seems more relevant than ever. And not just mommy women. I need a whole village of women. The ones that make me tear with laughter who knew me before I was ever a mom, ever married. Who know how much I really do love Jay-Z and Dave Matthews (yes, I just gave away my age with that combo). And I need single friends who seem like this extraordinary wealth of knowledge about the world in a way they don't even realize. And I need momma friends with peanut butter smears on their t-shirts and dirty messy ponytails and zero patience left. And I need mommas who have been there and done that and still look cheerful.
There's something women have the ability to do for each other that no one else can do. If we choose to do it. We can nurture each other. We can text and offer and we can do. I saw it all in action so recently and I realized how in the same way God opened a path and plan for my career, husband and child, he has done the same with the blessed women in my life. He's built us a beautiful little village. Each home in our village looks a lot different from the others. And together they are doing more than raising a child — they are raising a mommy.