Since having our daughter I have come to realise the adage of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is as true today as it was in the 1800’s the 1900s and in my own parents child rearing years.
I remember afternoons spent in the front garden of my neighbours while my mum ran around like a blue arsed fly trying to do the shopping, clean the house and get dinner ready — basically trying to run a house with 3 kids under her feet. Neighbours kids and cousins who lived nearby had part-time residence in our house too when needed. Back then it was so much the norm that I assumed that’s how life always was.
Time passed, I grew up, moved 100 miles from my home town, got married, made my own little space in the world with himself and we had a baby making our little world complete.
Yet suddenly, in the weeks following her arrival I found myself asking myself where the fuck is my village?!
There I was, knee deep in shitty nappies, newborn yet again mid cluster feed session and the faint smell of dinner burning in the kitchen when it hit me the reason why our families tended to all live within spitting distance of each other as we grew up — that undeniable need for support. I was exhausted, sleep deprived, my boobs ached, my tummy rumbled with hunger, himself had been reluctantly forced back to work after a month at home and I desperately missed having my mum just around the corner. I felt so alone.
At that moment of utter self pity my doorbell went, quickly I popped the boobs away (I figured after flashing the postman the day before he’d seen enough of my naked flesh for one week) and opened it to see a girl and a baby I recognised mainly from pictures online.
She handed me a flask, told me it is hot and to eat it now and the she went on her merry way.
I remember that day so distinctly. The weather was absolutely shite, she had her little one snugly wrapped in a sling and blanket and the flask she gave me was filled to the brim with homemade leek and potato soup. It was late afternoon and the soup was the first thing I had managed to eat all day.
The food delivery angel in question was a girl from my online group of mammy’s and she happened to live in the same area as me. There are tons of such groups but I had stumbled into the Rollercoaster one and I thank my lucky stars that I did.
On that day I had been once again stuck under a hunger monster on the sofa, unable to pee, or get food but the phone was within reach so I lifted it and went to a private group, a group of other mammy’s all in the same boat and I vented. I vented about needing to go to the loo, about being tired, about wishing I lived closer to family, about being hungry, it was frustrated word vomit on a page in a group of relative strangers, who I might not have known at the time but I knew would understand. And understand they did.
I might not live close to the village my mum had when I was a kid but I am so fortunate to have found my own modern day version. These ladies are my Queens, each and every single one of them. Two years on from the births of our little ones we are no more strangers, but sisters in this journey together. We have laughed together, cried together, supported each other, been a social outlet for each other and company during those endless night feeds. We have been both breastfeeding support and bottle feeding advice, sling recommendations and weaning recipe experts, an escape for coffee meet ups during those isolating early days and, of course, food delivery angels.
When someone tells me they are expecting, my advice tends to be to ignore the endless well-meaning but often pushy advice from everyone who will tell you how to be a parent. Just do it your own way and you will find your mojo. But if I can pass on one nugget of wisdom it would be this, find your village because, and you can trust me on this, not only does it takes a village to raise a child but it takes a village to make a mother.
To my own RC Queens, I am forever grateful.