Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It Takes a Village

This is the truth: a couple hours ago I typed that post title up there and then got busy cooking dinner and tending to children and checking the mail, and as I absently flipped through my new issue of Wondertime magazine, I happened to see an essay by writer Brett Paesel, in part about how tough it is to raise kids when you don't have that infamous "village" of family and neighbors nearby to help occasionally, and the sentence that jumped off the page at me just happened to read, "My village is a mom friend who lives 45 minutes away and is allergic to my cat."

I love Brett Paesel. She's my people.

I've been thinking a lot this summer about this whole idea of the village. I don't have a village. I have friends, sure. I have people who theoretically wish me well. But I really don't have anyone nearby who is reliably free enough--or related to me enough--to help me out with my girls on short notice if I'm at the absolute end of my rope or if I need to go to the dentist or shop for a mattress. I wrote a whole essay about it once, and got it published, and reading it now makes me feel nothing but sick and tired.

Awhile back I agreed to volunteer as the president of the board at Julia's nursery school for the upcoming school year, having been assured it would involve a minimal investment of time and a totally manageable group of activities. I hesitated and hemmed and hawed and pointed out that I didn't have it in me--that my household didn't have it in us--to take on anything overly time-consuming or overwhelming, that my husband had recently committed to a long-term second job and I wasn't free for multiple evening obligations. But in the end I took it on, because everyone said, It's FINE, it's NO BIG DEAL, it's REALLY NOTHING MUCH. Are you sensing the extreme foreshadowing here?

A week and a half ago the director of Julia's nursery school unexpectedly submitted her resignation. With one month until the beginning of a new school year. The board is the entity responsible for finding, hiring, and installing a new director. The president is the head of the board. Why no, actually, I don't have a human resources background! Funny you should ask! I know; you'd think I might need one now, wouldn't you? And yet: do not have one.

And that's all I'm going to say about that little situation. But what I will say is this: when you don't have a village, even normal daily life with a difficult toddler and an ultra-sensitive preschooler will burn you out completely, and then when something unexpected arises you will find the wheels rapidly falling off the bus of your own personal well-being.

Do you have a village? Do you know how lucky you are?

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