“It takes a village!”
You’ve said it. Or you’ve heard it. But have you ever lived it?
Back in the day—like, way back—families in our country lived within the wide-cast net of community. Work, play, faith, and life existed in the context of togetherness.
Somewhere along the way (around the 1950s), the idea of the nuclear family emerged. Parents embraced their roles in the family equation and lines were drawn and expectations were issued.
Women: cared for the home and children
As you well know, life has changed significantly from the 1950s. Inflation has soared, responsibilities have grown, and the demand to produce has created a situation where men and women are now shouldering far more than ever.
The traditional gender roles don’t work anymore. (They didn’t really work then, but that’s another post.)
We need help.
I was talking to a girlfriend today who told me, “I’m thinking about having my kids go to the after-school daycare two days a week so I can start exercising regularly.”
My response? “Oh, that’s a great idea.”
She was shocked. “Really? What do you think people will say?”
I understood her hesitancy. Aided by the highlight reels of social media, culture has convinced us that we should be able to do it all. Have a side hustle, be a #girlboss, ride our exercise bike daily, buy matching Christmas outfits for the kids, keep our kitchens Insta-worthy, and have regular date nights with our partners.
There’s been some recent pushback against these types of pressures, and cognitively, we know the pressures are unrealistic. But there’s still this pervasive disappointment we wrestle with when we can’t check every box at the end of the day.
(As an Enneagram 3, I’ll be the first to tell you, I’ve lost plenty of sleep over the unchecked boxes.)
I wonder what might happen if we embraced our inability to be all things to all people.
If we called a “truce” with life and admitted that we just can’t do it all.
If we acknowledge, with our actions and invitation for support, that we need help.
If we really raised our children in a village.
We aren’t wired to do life alone. Why would parenting be any different?
As a single parent, I maybe have a unique understanding of this principle because I have no other choice. It’s either ask for help or cease to function. I’ve learned that asking for help does two important things:
It gives other people the opportunity to build relationships with my kids. As much as I’d like to be at the center of their every memory . . . that’s kinda weird. Kids need other voices (especially the voices of other trusted adults) speaking into their lives to give them a sense of community and belonging.
It gives other people permission to ask for help too. I bet if we checked, we’d find that we’re all gripping white flags behind our backs. I say we raise those flags together as high as we can. That we look for the white flags of others and ask how we can help.
Asking for help doesn’t make you a bad parent. It makes you a human.
Published on Thursday, July 28, 2022 @ 1:03 PM EDT