We built a village

There’s a lot of talk about a village. And how we don’t have one anymore. How mothers before us knew it takes a village. That they spent their days at each other’s houses. Children happily playing outside as they laughed over tea and ate home-made biscuits.

How they talked about everything and nothing and they had connection.

How their babies grew together. Learning how to walk as they leaned on each other.

How life was simpler back then.

Your village was small. But you could call on each other.

And someone would come over and clean your house if you rang and said you’d had a rough night. The baby is teething and you just can’t stop crying.

And the mothers would come and they’d make you a good, strong tea. And they’d put you to sleep and take the kids for a walk.

And they say we don’t have that anymore. That life is too fast now. It’s too complex. We don’t have villages. We don’t look out for each other.

There are so many column inches talking about the mummy wars and how we labelled and separated ourselves from each other.

Not like back then when mothers were just mothers. And living next door was enough to build a friendship on nothing but the fact that the baby has a wail louder than a siren.

And they taught each other to feed their babies. And life was easy. It was different.

But we don’t have that now they say.

But it’s strange. I hear this but I am writing from within the village.

We didn’t build a village with bricks.

We didn’t lean over the back fence and say – would you like a cuppa?

We reached out and into a virtual world when we realised we were all going through the same thing.

We built a village not from mortar but from from tweets and fuzzy words on a forum titled “Why won’t my baby sleep?”

We built friendships on nothing but the fact that put baby cries with such ferocity that it makes our head spin.

We taught each other that we were enough no matter what anybody else said. It wasn’t always easy. It was different.

We know it takes a village.  As our children play we laugh with friends no less real because we happen to chat online. We make plans by instant message and catch-ups at a park because we built this village through tapping out SOS on a keyboard.

And the call was answered even across the seas and our village is wide and open.

We talk about everything and nothing and we have connection.

Our babies grow together but apart and we lean on each other as they learn to walk.

Life might not always feel simple but we simply know that whatever happens we will have a kind word lighting up a page when we turn to our phones.

No matter the time. Or our location. We have this village.

We can call on each other and we rally. We create more villages where there weren’t any before.

We use labels to identify needs to ensure support. This place a home for the mums who wait by hospital beds for babies that might not get better. This place a home for mums whose children struggle with social interaction or whose minds never stop racing. This place a home for the mums who feel so anxious so much of the time that we make sure we cheer the achievement of just leaving the house. This place a home for the mums who never felt comfortable calling themselves mums. This place a home for the mums who have grief raw and ragged at the surface. This place a home for the mums who feel they’re never quite good enough.

This safe village where there’s a place for everyone.

And someone will start a thread where they will share a bank account number so they can start collecting for the mum who needs her car fixed. She lost her job on parental leave and her partner left. They’re a message away when you have a rough night. The baby is teething and you just can’t stop crying.

And the mothers will come and they’ll tell you that you need a good, strong tea. And they’ll say I can’t be with you to hold you tight but I can promise you from here that you’ll be OK mama.

And they say we don’t have that anymore. That life is too fast now. It’s too complex.

We don’t have villages. We don’t look out for each other.

But I’m writing this from a village.

Where we always look out for each other.


6 Comments on “We built a village

  1. So very true. My village provided dinners, cleaned my house and entertained my daughter after I had brain surgery. Every single one of them was met through the internet. Some lived just around the corner, others further away. They all came and they all helped.
    When I was diagnosed with PND it was the online village that supported me, when a friends daughter was diagnosed with cancer it was the online village who got angry with her, stayed up late at night to talk to her when insomnia kicked in. There are plenty more stories.
    I have informed many a misguided person that the village is alive and well.

  2. And funnily enough, there’s a village before you even become a mother. I wouldn’t have coped with the 13 months of trying to conceive without my online village. They are in the US, Germany, France and here in the UK. I go there every day and we cheer for each other, comfort each other, answer each others’ questions. I would not have coped at all without them.

  3. And these wonderful villages are awake when your baby is up at 3am. Hurrah for the internet!

    • Yes! This is possibly the best thing about having a far flung village. I have people awake that I can tweet to at 3, 4, 430, and all of the above if needed. If my village were soley made up of women on my block I would be afraid to bother them and possilbly ruin any sleep they are getting.

  4. Real writers are born, not made. You don’t learn it. And I haven’t cried so hard since Anneka was born..I think. It’s all a sleepy blur. Thank you.