“It takes a village to raise a child.” No doubt; it certainly does. I’m very thankful for the one I rely on, and my son benefits from it immensely. I might be the one caring for him most of the day on most days, but there’s a whole host of people who pass in and out, physically and remotely, seen and unseen by him. Each one playing a part, whether they know it or not.
But you know what? I think it ALL takes a village. Not just raising a child. This big journey we're all on, on the path from A to B, it takes a crew. The new colloquialism should be, “Life, it takes a village.” The coworker who picks up a task when you’re drowning in a sea of to-do-lists; the barista who knows your morning latte order; the dog you take running; the friend who supports your business; the spouse who lets you vent; the person who brings you wine, opens you up to your happy place, lets you be silent, lends an idea in a void, spots your dropped debit card and hails you down before you drive away without it to curse yourself later when you stop for gas on an empty tank. Whoever composes your village depends on what your life is about. Maybe you only come in contact with them fleetingly each morning or each month or each decade, but their presence is a gear – however big or small – in the machine that makes your world turn. These are the interactions, the puzzle pieces, the links that knit a life together.
There’s nothing quite like a village of people, of all different kinds, to offer advice, talk you off a ledge, straighten you out, wholeheartedly commiserate with you, or give it to you without the sugar coating. But those people offering smaller, more transitory interactions are also a part of that village, and can add just as much as longtime residents. Someone you don’t know all that well complimenting your hair or the person in front of you letting you pass them at the grocery store. Seemingly insignificant, tiny interactions can lift you up or make an errand a bit easier, adding something to how you go about the rest of your day and smoothing a little wrinkle in doing whatever it is that you do. I think that’s the village at work, too.
Now, I enjoy social media and text messaging and facetiming (or whatever the equivalent is correctly called on a Droid phone). I utilize the self-checkout line at the grocery store and I go to the ATM. I make online purchases and order my pizza via the web. It’s all great stuff, and I’m not trashing it, because it all has purpose. I do want to be mindful of striking a balance, where and when I can, because I like the idea of that village, and I don’t want it to become a ghost town.
My village, like yours, is composed of people from different eras and areas of my life. In reflecting, the eras with the smallest censuses represented in that town are those in which I felt unsure of or self-conscious about myself. (And I had more than ones of those.) It’s hard to connect with others when you’re worried about the self you’re presenting and how it’s being received. But I found that as I sloughed off more layers of insecurity, I suddenly felt more comfortable asking for help or accepting it, reaching out or responding. That’s not to say that I don’t break out in a sweat in certain social situations, or that I feel at ease admitting mistake, or that some conversations aren’t easier with a glass of red in my hand. But the little village that weaves in and out of my life makes it richer, smooths over some of the bumps, and makes the good times better. For all of those reasons, I’m glad to have the help of a village in life in general, not just in raising my son, and I hope you have one, too.