In the past, building a village of support around you wasn’t something you had to consciously do as a parent. There was a real, physical community of people living nearby who were ready to lend a hand in taking care of and raising children.
But what is this concept of a “village”?
The saying “it takes a village” has gained a lot of traction when discussing the challenges of raising children. This notion became crystal clear to me during the pandemic, after becoming a parent myself. The first year of parenting is undeniably tough, both mentally and physically. Personally, I believe that without the connection to fellow moms in my due date Facebook group and local mom communities, I might have fallen into a deep state of depression. Yet, even with these connections, arranging visits from my parents posed difficulties due to the pandemic precautions we all were taking.
Navigating decisions like whether to meet up with friends or stay home was a challenge. My husband and I recognized the necessity of having a supportive network, our own modern-day village, to prevent becoming overwhelmed.
Before having our baby, my husband and I had relocated several times, which meant starting over in terms of friendships. Often, we didn’t have family living nearby. Initially, it was manageable for us to relocate repeatedly, maintaining ties with friends we had made along the way, while also anticipating forming new relationships in our new locations. However, the pandemic shifted our perspective. We realized the significance of having close friends and family in proximity, with these friends essentially becoming our chosen family after our child arrived.
We created a bubble “village” of friends we could trust, started building that village, and then we moved.
This time around, starting over in a new area with a baby was a lot harder than we expected. While we did move closer to family, establishing a network of “mom tribe” friends took more effort than I had initially thought.
The struggle to find a village is real.
The pandemic made it hard for new moms to make friends. I’m going to say that a lot. It DID. Our options were limited to brief coffee outings or visits to parks. Even in chilly weather, we bundled up our babies and braved outdoor walks, despite numb fingers and rosy noses.
I’ve talked to a lot of moms who had pandemic babies and we’ve all lamented how much we were robbed of our newborn/baby experience because we didn’t get to do those “mommy and me” classes or attend storytimes at the libraries. We had to figure out things on our own or do it virtually. Our babies also lacked a lot of socialization that was needed at an early age because we were all too afraid to let other people touch them.
So, upon my move to a new city, with a tinge of sadness for leaving behind the few mom friends I had made, I actively engaged with local mom groups in search of new connections. I put myself out there like I was looking for a job. The pandemic wasn’t over, but we were two years into this mess and by now we knew what to expect.
I received numerous responses and social media friend requests from fellow moms. While attempts to organize playdates or walks sometimes fell through or led to ghosting, one mom and I managed to make a connection that blossomed into a strong bond for our toddlers.
Forming a Solid Village.
Encouraged by this success, having found a mommy friend and a playmate for my child, I was motivated to expand my network further. I sought a village where I could share concerns, relate to others, and seek advice. And when my now friend set up a first meet up, I felt compelled to go. It would be the first time everyone was meeting each other and I wouldn’t feel like I was just a newcomer to an established group of moms.
I took a leap of faith, and it paid off. Now, I’m a part of a circle of moms who I’m fortunate to call my friends. These are the kind of friends who step in for each other, provide babysitting help, offer a car for appointments, or rush to aid with a flat tire.
I’ve stumbled upon a remarkable village, a rare find indeed. Throughout my life, I’ve struggled to form lasting bonds with groups of female friends, often due to drama and gossip. I am grateful to have found the right group of women who uplift one another, extending a hand to those in need. We share advice, offer our skills, and genuinely support each other.
This is what a true village should embody. To all moms out there, remember that you should never feel embarrassed, shamed, or isolated within your village. If you do, then you haven’t yet found the right one.