Where the Hell is the Village?

Every night, I follow the steps: Each step is very important. You have to limit screen time. You need to ensure your child is watching quality programs if you do allow screen time. You have to make sure that you do not rely too much on the childcare you pay your entire check for to raise your child, so you must make sure you review new skills at home with supplemental and diverse activities. It is important that they do any homework, and it is well-documented that the most valuable thing children need is playtime — Aesthetically pleasing wooden toys that are switched out for the seasons is best. During playtime, it is critical to ensure you talk to your child. Be sure they understand the anatomically correct name for their body parts, model how to share, advocate for their own body autonomy, and regulate emotions; yoga and deep breathing can never start too early. This is the same for books. Be sure to read every single night, and while reading, take notice of your child’s interest, memory, and ability to recognize sight words because the pediatrician will ask you how many words they are saying at the next appointment. You should make that appointment sooner than later. When you’re there, they will also ask about your child’s diet, so avoid meat, dairy, processed foods, fast foods, sugars, dyes, gluten, and of course, shop local. It is essential that your child has a colorful and healthy meal, cute enough to be posted on social media. Make it fun; cut it up into shapes that make faces, use those no BPA silicone bento boxes. Do not forget a note; children need consistent words of affirmation because how you speak to them becomes their inner voice. You do not want them to have to go to therapy for your lack of parenting skills like you did. But if they do, they need to be able to afford it, so be sure to set aside money for college, and do research on a 529 account. — It is very important that I, like other good mothers, follow the steps. Follow the steps no matter what, even if each step multiplies like gnats on a hidden piece of fruit. Each step is heavy, but it is worth it because it is for my child. Somewhere, at some time, while I was learning the steps, I heard people say, “it takes a village to raise a child”. Well, where the hell is the village? 

In the Motherland, African proverb will tell us that the child who does not feel the warm embrace of the village will surely return to burn it down, which is interesting because before we were mothers, we were children. Children who witnessed how icy cold the so-called village treated mothers. We saw our mothers clean as they go, fake it until they made it, and never take a sick day because it is always momma’s baby and daddy’s maybe. The silent selflessness became normal, beautiful, day in and day out, so it appears to be warmth. It’s actually worn down; she is actually worn, tired, exhausted and if she could reach a lighter, she’d probably set the village ablaze and destroy the bridges when she left. This village that they speak of: is it a myth? Maybe. It is possible, we are too exhausted from following the steps to seek and maintain our villages. Simply put, we do not need any more tasks, just real support. — If you are looking for resources that provide support for mothers I will link some of my favorites at the end of the post. I’ve used these resources to help me not only create an easy, and accessible village, but also as tools to end this cycle, heal the wounds, and close the gaps in the tribes we need the most. 

For me, I found myself needing a tribe the most about 6 months into my pregnancy with our second child. Suddenly, our daughter began an obsession with bandages and needed to heal wounds that were not there. Well, they were there, I just couldn’t see them. Around the time we gave birth to our son, our daughter started to regress in potty training, she started to fight sleep, to choose not to follow instructions at home. It was like experiencing an entirely new person. It was only after a horrible mutual meltdown that I finally realized what the bandages were for. She was beaten from trying to follow the steps. It wasn’t only me who had been trying so hard to follow all the good girl steps, she was too. She was trying to be a big girl, a nice girl, share her toys at a new school, share her mom with this stranger that came home out of nowhere, sleep in a bed because the crib is for babies, she was no longer the baby. She has to sit in circle time, she has to eat her morning snack before school because they do not allow outside food in, she has to learn the difference between L and 7, spell her name, constantly repeat things because an adult did not understand what she said, but she knows what she meant, and she knows what she feels. When I really thought about how she was feeling, I was sad for her. I wanted to solve her problems right then and there, but that is part of the problem. She is not mine to fix. She and I have to work together as a team to achieve her goals and desires. We both have to learn how to navigate what it looks like when she doesn’t get what she wants. We have to work together to understand what she actually wants and why. Does she actually want to follow the steps, feel selfless, feel villageless, feel cold, and come back and set something on fire? I couldn’t just pray everything remained unsigned I had to come up with a system that wasn’t designed to get her to do what I wanted. She has to follow enough steps. I had to come up with something that focused on being part of her village, being her support system, and her warm embrace. This is what prompted me to create the “I See You Doing Good Jar”.

First, I spent time talking to other trusted moms. Then I followed researched-based parenting social media pages. After that, I discussed with people I know who love and understand my child a system that I thought would fit my daughter’s needs and lifestyle. This is what prompted me to create the “I See You Doing Good Jar.” I purchased a large mason jar, jumbo popsicle sticks, and googly craft eyes from Walmart. I hot glued the eyes onto the jar. I had my daughter decorate a side of 30 popsicle sticks with paint, glitter, and rhinestones. Once they were dry, I wrote different items on the back of each one. Some examples are words of affirmation, age-appropriate mental or physical tasks, and power to do things like pick what we eat for dinner or select any snack or tv show, even extra screen time. I will link a list of ideas at the end of the article. I then sat with my daughter and came up with some things that make her proud when she does them. For a while these things were waking up dry, using a powerful voice to ask for what you need, and taking a nap during school. Each time she did one of these things any one of the trusted adults in her life, her village, could put one of her decorated popsicle sticks in the jar. Right away she gets the immediate satisfaction of praise and the added task or quality time permitted by whatever is on the back of that popsicle stick. Once she gets to 15 popsicle sticks she can use them just like cash money! She can save some or blow it all, on what she wants when she wants. This has become an extremely helpful tool to run errands without buying her something at every stop, and it is a great chance to introduce the concepts of financial literacy like saving and spending. Overall, it has become a system that is flexible and easy to change with age and time. It is something some moms can find useful. Tuning into your needs and trusting your gut are helpful tools to get through the challenges that society sits in a mother’s lap. There is no need to add more to your list. You have enough stuff, too many steps. I only ask you to examine your steps and ask yourself if you feel worn, or warm.

I’ll link one of my favorite resources to use below so take what you need. Feel free to share some of your resources in the comments and build a village with someone. We always hear of something mythical rising out of the ashes of a fire, maybe, just maybe it’s you, and the warm village you create to help raise our children. Imagine, a village where the fiery blaze was intentionally ignited and maintained with love and support. A place where the child who has lost their way, forgotten the steps, can return and feel the embrace.

~ Marcia

Village & Vine

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