It takes a Village…Yes, But first you need to find the village.

When I became a mom for the first time…11 years ago, what?! Yes Tammara, 11 years ago, I remember how daunting it was. How wonderful and utterly terrifying it felt to be holding this small bundle of lif e. A bundle that I did not know yet, even though I had spoken to him for months as he grew within me. In fact, he was the only one of my four children who had a name throughout my pregnancy…and still, I didn’t know him at all. What he liked or didn’t, what he needed. I desperately clung to the schedule the nurses gave me, as the only “known” – the cycle of feeding, sleeping and changing kept me going for about 5 months.

Because it took us so much longer than most of our friends to start a family – most of them were not new parents. Even those who had managed to be pregnant around the same time as us, were welcoming their last children, not their first. They were already accustomed to having a new life in their homes, they were already occupied with older children, or even dealing with teenagers. Everyone had stories that identified with ours, but they were all past tense, spoken not with condescension, but with that knowledge that only experience gives – and only experience truly identifies with. Knowledge and experience that we were just gaining. No one we knew well, was walking through this new season, as new parents, together with us. And though, we knew we could and would learn much from them, we needed more…

There were new parents in our lives, just not people we knew well, yet. They became the people I felt drawn to. People who were just as newly sleep deprived, bewildered and as excited as us, over every small thing that annoys all non new parents the world over. One newer friend, Alex. had sort of pushed me into organizing a new moms group. (Most people know this – I love to organize things and people, but they don’t know that I usually need a really good push, from God or other people – usually both, to get started, it’s this mental thing about not wanting to be bossy by choice) – anyways, Alex, she pushed me and I contacted all the other new moms I could think of and word spread, and before we new it, a group of 8-15 moms was meeting regularly. It varied over time, usually copious amounts of coffee and tea were consumed, usually lunch and snacks were shared. Various living rooms were littered with car seat carriers, receiving blankets and baby paraphernalia.

Oh the idyllic days  of not having a schedule. In Canada we have a whole year of maternity leave so we’d talk for hours, holding our own or each others babies, nursing or bottle feeding, changing diapers and sharing hearts. Fears, frustrations, hopes, victories – 4 or 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep was always met with cheers and envious congratulations. As the months passed, the group evolved. We’d go for long walks with the strollers, have lunches, share hobbies and recipes, photography tips, flower arranging…sharing all the firsts, first smiles, steps, teeth…

mommy and me2Some moms went back to work, some moved away. Then as some second babies arrived, we morphed again… we would plan play dates – with the larger group and sometimes smaller ones. We’d go to the zoo together, or to the park. Always sharing, life and hearts.

Then, as we approached the school years, things started to change. Life got busier, we were tethered to our respective neighbourhoods and the schools therein. There were other parents to get to know and teachers, and our little group met together less and less, but more than that, the sharing changed. Maybe I changed, maybe we all did. It was harder to share our fears, our frustrations with parenting, with school and with life. It was little harder to identify with it was harder not to judge and not to feel judged for differences. It was harder to admit we still hadn’t figured things out.

So slowly, and then for us, quickly with the onset of outside circumstances, financial stress, a church split, relocation of good friends and family, schooling stresses…our circle, our village, got smaller. We withdrew, but what we really wanted and needed was to hold on.  For us, the circle, the village got really really small, at a time when we really needed something more. We needed the village to help hold us together when we were falling apart…

but then this wonderful thing happened…

We pulled out of everything…we started to reconnect as a family, then with friends from before, and friends during and most importantly…

We started homeschooling.

Once again, I found myself in a small group of moms, each of us terrified and overwhelmed. Each of us only armed with the knowledge that this was right for each of us, for our families, for right now. That first year, when we were bleary eyed with frustration…only to laugh in a wild hysteria when we realized that we all had “one of those weeks”…at the same time. … when no one is getting along, no one seems to be learning a thing, mom feels like a shrew losing her cool every half hour and dad gets to put out fires when he gets home kind of weeks…and we had all felt too alone and afraid to pick up the phone and share the vulnerable feeling of not having it all figured out, until we saw ourselves, in each other…

Only to find out that, in the month of February, EVERY homeschooler (new and veteran) it seems has one of those weeks.

This group of moms quickly grew to include not just new homeschoolers, but of all different shades – some with or two kids, some with 5 or 8. Some with kids in school as well as home schooled.All different styles of schooling, all different faiths and leanings. Drawn together usually consuming copious amounts of coffee and tea, packing our own snacks and lunches in various kitchens, parks and yards… sounds oddly similar doesn’t it. Though now our shared transparency is concern for our families, our children’s educations and the world around us.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

We have found a village again. Reconnected, found new and rebuilt by the Lord.

Case in point, last Friday, while at Gym Day – snack time arrived and the boys pounced on me with ravenous hunger – as if they hadn’t eaten for days, and not just an hour earlier. For a moment I couldn’t see our 2 year old, Elaina, though she was only 3 feet away. The next minute, the loud smack of skull on concrete resounded through the gym. The room grew silent as we waited for the cry to tell us what kind of hurt it was, and which child it came from. Someone yelled her name and I instantly knew it was bad. Elaina was scooped up off the floor and carried to me through the fray…she was limp but looking at me and trying to catch her breath or cry, I couldn’t tell… and then she started to black out. That scary eye roll and almost seizure like movement…and wanting to sleep on my shoulder. I started to pray the only way I knew how, thanking the Lord for His promise, His protection, His healing…while asking for someone to call 911, while my boys started to panic. One of the moms grabbed my bag, one of them started to figure out rides and care for the boys if needed. Several drew near to pray, another called for prayer, laid hands on us and spoke the Life of Jesus into the situation…all the while I prayed and kept her awake, even as the firetruck pulled up to the door…when she suddenly started talking, lucidly to me. After they checked her out and gave her the all clear, she was back to her jumping, happy self within hours. It took a bit longer for the boys and I to work through the stress, but I was again reminded of God’s faithfulness and the love of community. The following days we had numerous inquiries about Elaina, how she was doing, how the boys and I were, lot’s of well wishes and love and blessings… and I’m almost brought to tears to be loved so well, but such a beautiful village.

In reflection, even when our village seemed small, it was still there. The thing that was absent, was the freedom and safety to be vulnerable, and it very well may have been our weakness at the time, but I am so very thankful that we again find ourselves in such a rich and beautiful place where vulnerability is welcomed, respected and shared.

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