It takes a village to raise a child
This well-known and often used African proverb has almost become cliche from over usage. However, despite the ubiquitous use of this quote, I believe that the number of people that actually live by these words is diminishing on a daily basis. Times have changed drastically from my formative years. I grew up in a neighborhood where I was afraid to misbehave because I knew that my mother had eyes and ears around even when she wasn't present. Being reprimanded by a neighbor for bad behavior was not frowned upon, it actually was de rigueur. And as much as I hated the notion of having my every move watched, now that I am raising a child I find myself wishing for the sense of community that I grew up with. Unfortunately in my new subdivision we are not close knit, rarely see each other except for home owners association meetings to discuss the annual budget and there are too few children here for my comfort. It is my hope that when my son is older and the economy is better we can move to a place that is more reminiscent of Wisteria Lane. In the meanwhile, my search for community drives me to mommy and me where the children play together and the moms chat, dine and are watchful of all of the children. I find myself building a "village" to help me raise my child.
Building my village takes me to places both near and far. This weekend my son and I traveled with our best friends - my college girlfriend that I've known for close to 2 decades and our sons that are 10 months apart and have hit it off like gangbusters. We took a 3.5 hour road trip to Asheville, North Carolina to visit her family and engage in the Halloween festivities in her old neighborhood. We were met with kisses from Grands, great grandma and my girlfriends brothers - all who have adopted my son as their own. The uncles spoiled our boys to bits and the grandparents gave them free range of the house while my girlfriend and I relaxed in the comfort of love, family and friendship that surrounded us. We did not have to stay ever vigilant with the eagle eye on our boys - we knew that even if they were out of sight they were in safe hands.
One may say of course family is a village, but the village extended beyond family. Our trip to Asheville was over the Halloween weekend for a reason. This neighborhood in the mountains is notorious for the holiday spirit. Homes are heavily decorated, adults and children alike wear costumes, and candy, food and libations are free flowing. The streets are closed off for the revelry and over a two hour span of time we toured a haunted house, admired the decorations on a haunted mansion and enjoyed chilli, wine and cheese at a neighbors home while taking respite from the rain.
Yes, it rained on Halloween but that did not stop the village from caring for it's children. And although my son and I were mere visitors to this quaint village, we were made to feel like we were home. One day I hope to live in a community like the one we visited this weekend and until we do, I will continue to take my son places where he can experience some of the love and affection that is given when you are raised by a "village."
For more reading on the importance of a village read these blogs:
Renee aka cutiebootycakes is a contributing editor for BlogHer and writes her (mostly) daily blog, Cutie Booty Cakes.