Some people think it was Hillary Clinton who coined the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” as it was the title of a book she published in 1996 when she was the First Lady of the United States: It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. Others state that it’s attributed to an African proverb, but some debate that as well.
All I can say to whomever uttered that sentiment first is “amen to that!”
A comment and a question I often get when people learn that I am a single mother by choice is, “I don’t know how you do it.” And guess what… some days I say to myself, “I don’t know how I am doing this.” My answer to others and myself is always “one day at a time” and that “it takes a village.” I have a great “village” that supports me. I don’t have any family near me who can help so I rely on friends and paid support. I feel so very fortunate that I have the means to pay for some of these “village” services.
I have never been one to ask for help in life and it’s been hard at times to hand over the care of my son, but doing it completely alone is not an option. I recently came across this quote: “No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helped you.” At first I thought about it from a professional perspective, but then realized it correlates to parenting achievements as well. I don’t care if you’re a single parent by choice, by death or divorce or you have a partner… raising children is not an easy job!
I always tell new parents who may be worried about coming back to work (especially moms) to “find your village
.” I found my village in the company that I work for that values family, offers flexibility and has great benefits (like a free care.com
subscription). I found my village in the caretakers who helped me raise him from day one. I found my village in the day care and elementary school that my son attends, which offers support and compassion for a child with ADHD. I found my village in dear friends who live close by. I found my village in new friendships. I found my village in the health club that has amazing free child care so I can do my best to stay healthy. I found my village in the nail salon that isn’t annoyed when my son comes with me for that quick pedicure as it’s the only thing at times that makes me feel pretty.
I can go on and on about where my village is. Your village is out there too, I promise… you just need to find it, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Also… remember to be a village for someone. There are so many parents these days trying to juggle raising children, balancing a job or other family commitments. So when you’re looking for your support circle, keep an eye out for those for whom you might be able to return the favor. Because you never know when you ask “Can I help you with… ?” that it just might be the moment they need the help most!